Story | 18 Feb, 2022

Winter Festival at Gilgit Baltistan - IUCN's efforts for promotion of eco-tourism

IUCN Pakistan with the financial assistance of Agency for Italian Development Corporation, Government of Italy in collaboration with District Administration of District Nagar and Nagar Tourism Promotion Committee organised winter sports with the theme “Preservation of Environment” in Hoper valley of District Nagar, Gilgit Baltistan on 13 February 2022.

This year, the sports festival was largely cheered and celebrated by the International Development Partners as well as our Prime Minister in an effort to promote eco-tourism which will improve the livelihoods of local communities.

The event was attended and applauded by the legislators including Mr. Nazir Ahmad Advocate Deputy Speaker, Mr. Javed Ali Manwa Minister of Finance, Syed Sohail Shah Minster of Law and Mr. Wazir Shakeel Minister of Works GoGB. The district administration was represented by the Deputy Commissioners of Districts Hunza and Nagar and their teams respectively.

Earlier, IUCN Pakistan with the financial support of Agency for Italian Development Corporation and Government of Italy sponsored youth (20 boys and 5 girls) from District Nagar and trained them for a period of two weeks in January 2022 for the promotion of winter sports including ice hockey, ice skating, ice curling and skiing to attract tourists in winters as alternate livelihood option, which usually is considered as off-season. Experts from Pakistan Air Force trained these youngsters.

Mahnoor, a four-years old girl from Hoper valley after being trained by IUCN showed her extraordinary talent in the ice ring in back-to-back winter sport events across Hunza and Nagar Districts by winning Silver medal at national level event at Ghulkin, Hunza and is emerging as icon for hidden talent of the North. It is worthy to note that she has been training other young girls in the area at this early age. At Hoper event, Mahnoor and team raised IUCN flag to commend its efforts for training of the youth group and promotion of tourism activities in that region. Afterwards the team demonstrated their ice skating skills in the ice ring during the presence of thousands of audience.

The efforts of IUCN in safeguarding biodiversity and livelihoods were applauded by Canadian High Commissioner, Her excellency Wendy Gilmour and GB's Minister for Tourism Raja Nasir Ali Khan on social platforms apart from high officials from GoGB and local communities.

Mahnoor, a silver medal winner of the National winter sports event of 2022 while talking to media and participants showed her intent to volunteer as “Honorary Ambassador” for IUCN to join its vision for valuing and conserving nature.

About the Global Assessment of the State of Nature and Biodiversity Safeguarding Actions in Northern Pakistan project :

To safeguard biodiversity and livelihoods of northern mountain communities and incorporation of green concept in the development specially in the wake of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), IUCN Pakistan is undertaking a project titled “Global Assessment of the State of Nature and Biodiversity Safeguarding Actions in Northern Pakistan” with the financial assistance of the Agency for Italian Development Corporation and implementing it in collaboration with the line departments, private sector and local communities.Under this project IUCN Pakistan aims to promote alternate livelihood options in the project area, the winter festival was sponsored by the project as an alignment to one of its major activity.