Back in 2010, an event called Exit Strategy was held in the US where climber and environmental activist Dawa Steven Sherpa was invited to share about his mountain experience. The conference was then rebranded as Sustainable Summits in 2014, focusing on the impact of humans on mountains. The conference is organized every two years in various places and for its 2020 edition, it is going to be held in Kathmandu on June 1-5, as a Visit Nepal Year 2020 Special Event.
During the 2018 edition, Nepal Tourism Board lobbied for the conference to be held in the country so that it also helps the Government-run tourism campaign, Visit Nepal Year 2020. The summit is being co-hosted with Climate Alliance of Himalayan Communities (CAHC) and is being supported by ICIMOD, Petzl Foundation, UNDP and WWF.
During the press conference held on February 27 to announce about the summit, Dr. Dhananjaya Regmi, CEO of Tourism Board shared that most of the time, people who are directly involved in the business aren’t aware of how to manage the problems faced in the mountains, especially with regards to the climate change impact. On the other hand, he added that the scientists don’t have direct linkage with the areas. Hence, Sustainable Summit would hopefully bridge the gap as it not only brings the administrators responsible for the mountain areas and scientists who have been involved in the research but also users including those who visit, have businesses and live there.
Similarly, Dawa Steven Sherpa, who is part of the organizing committee along with Ang Tshering Sherpa, Prashant Singh, Dr. Ganesh Gurung, and Lisa Choeygal shared that since the Visit Nepal Year 2020 campaign also focuses on sustainable tourism, including policies, products, and experiences, conducting the conference would be very beneficial to the country. He also shared his experience from past events where there was a direct impact on the host country and hoped it will be the same with Nepal.
Likewise, Mr. Suraj Vaidya, the National Program Coordinator of VNY 2020, shared that the campaign aims to improve the policies regarding tourism, introduce new destinations and products and bring in new investments, which are sustainable both in terms of being environment-friendly and long-lasting. He also shared about the recent experience with Skate Nepal where various policies and permits had been challenging especially for promotion. “Skate Nepal was organized in Gokyo to see if the open lake ice hockey and figure skating is feasible in our country since we have around 1300 glacier lakes. So if only 5% of these lakes can be used to do this sport, it will create a new market and will help in developing the area. We need to focus on how to ease it for people, tourists, and the product developers,” he shared, adding that one of the main results in the summit should be making our national parks and other protected areas to be plastic-free zone.
In the end, Ms. Lisa Choyegal and Dr. Ganesh Gurung shared the press release of the event talking more about the summit and its purpose