Climate Change in the Himalayas: The Prospect of Sino-Indian Collaboration

EPA Grant Number: FP917242
Title: Climate Change in the Himalayas: The Prospect of Sino-Indian Collaboration
Investigators: Rampini, Costanza
Institution: University of California - Santa Cruz
EPA Project Officer: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: September 1, 2010 through August 31, 2013
Project Amount: $111,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2010) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Fellowship - Global Change


The IPCC Fourth Assessment Report has concluded that the Himalayan glaciers are receding faster than in any other part of the world as a result of anthropogenic climate change. The accelerated melting of the Himalayan glaciers will have ripple effects on the entire Asian continent as Himalayan glacial runoff is at the center of Asia’s water supply, including that of India and China. Given the long-term implications of climate change in the region, it will be important to understand how the countries that depend on the Himalayan glaciers, and especially China and India, will align authority, responsibility, and expertise to collaborate in the resolving of this high-stakes crisis.


This research examines the prospect of scientific and political collaboration between China and India as the two countries face the challenges of climate change impacts in the boundary region of the Himalayas. It uses interviews and participant observation to examine the capacity of the region’s institutions and the role of Sino-Indian collaborations in addressing the crisis. This research will provide insight into the dynamics of transnational environmental governance.


This project mobilizes the disciplines of Science and Technology Studies (STS) and interdisciplinary research on Vulnerability and Resilience to understand and document the opportunities, successes, and failures of Sino-Indian scientific and political collaboration in the Himalayan region. The first stage of research will use semi-structured interviews and participant observation to identify the key players and institutions involved in climate change research in the region, and examine how China and India are monitoring, detecting, and analyzing the impacts of climate change in the Himalayas. By examining the points of contention and consensus between Chinese and Indian key players and institutions, this analysis will contribute to an understanding of the potential for Sino-Indian collaborations over climate change impacts in the region.

Expected Results:

Through an evaluation of the prospect of Sino-Indian collaboration over the impacts of climate change in the Himalayas, this research will provide important insight into the limits and benefits of cross-border collaborations between dissimilar actors in dealing with transnational environmental crises. An analysis of Sino-Indian scientific and political collaborations in the region and an understanding of the implications of such collaboration for knowledge production and political decision-making will help predict the climate change adaptation strategies of other neighboring countries in the Greater Himalayan region and the overall future of the uniquely diverse region and its people.

Potential to Further Environmental/Human Health Protection:

Understanding whether Sino-Indian scientific and political collaborations, as they are taking place in the Himalayas, display the prerequisite qualities to play a crucial role in resolving a water crisis in the region is imperative considering the relative importance of the Himalayan glaciers for the global community. A social study of the prospect for Sino-Indian collaboration with respect to climate change in the Himalayas will contribute to assessing the capacity for response of the region. In particular, by identifying barriers and limitations to cross-border collaboration, this research will emphasize the potential for bridging knowledge gaps, building institutions, increasing research capacity, and facilitating the transboundary flow of information and cooperation.

Supplemental Keywords:

climate change, water, Himalayas, glaciers, transnational governance, collaboration, science policy, risk, uncertainty, scientific expertise, vulnerability, resilience, science and technology,

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2011
  • 2012
  • Final