The 8th Sustainable Mountain development Summit (SMDS-VIII) of the Integrated Mountain Initiative was held in North Eastern Council, Shillong, Meghalaya from 4-6th November. The annual Summits are a key convergence platform to share experiences, discuss issues of sustainable development, identify gaps and collectively work to arrive at policy recommendations. Every SMDS is based on a clearly laid out theme and is part of a strategy leading towards a more effective coordination amongst the Mountain States to influence policies.
This year’s SMDS solidified the learnings from the past SMDSs to come up with an effective strategy for sustainable development by building an ecosystem for young entrepreneurs. The identified areas critical to building an enabling ecosystem for entrepreneurs in the IHR was deliberated upon – Sustainable Agriculture, Sustainable Energy, Sustainable Agri-business, Sustainable Tourism.
The Summit was inaugurated by Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma. Emphasising on the gap between policies and action in the grassroots, Conrad Sangma said that this gap can be bridged only through entrepreneurship. He highlighted the urgency to build up the potential of the youth to face the future which is likely to be disrupted by climate change and emerging technologies, particularly Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Through the course of the summit, presentations were made by representatives from ICIMOD, SDC, IMI, NEC, SELCO Foundation, TRIF, ADB, amongst many others. On both the days, the deliberations were divided into two parallel thematic sessions. Other inspirational stories of entrepreneurs from different states fuelled the discussions on sustainable Agriculture, Sustainable energy, agri-business and sustainable tourism, and their potential as livelihood options in the mountain regions. The two days of discussions threw up many ideas for follow-up, but almost all emphasized on the need for an entrepreneurial ecosystem by convergence of government, civil society, industry and financial institutions. It was also underlined that there was urgent need to revitalize all government extension services.