Sustainable development in mountain regions: the path ahead
The Adelboden Group meets to launch an ambitious project for mountain people
4 October 2004, Rome -- More effective and sustainable agriculture and rural development policies and practices in mountain regions to improve the livelihoods of mountain people will be the focus of discussion at the second meeting of the "Adelboden Group", which brings together governments, civil society organizations and international organizations, opening today at the Rome headquarters of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
"Better sustainable agricultural and rural development policies are critical for fostering the environmental, social and economic well-being of mountain people. There is an urgent need to support mountain regions by helping countries to formulate and implement appropriate sustainable agriculture and rural development policy options," said John Monyo, FAO Assistant Director-General, Sustainable Development Department.
"While the vast majority of mountain people are rural, agriculture alone can not ensure their livelihoods." Mr Monyo added.
During two days of discussions, representatives from governments, international organizations and civil society, including major groups, will put the final touches to an interregional and multi-stakeholder project designed to support mountain people.
The four-year project, to be launched in early 2005 should mobilize around US$6 million and be implemented in each continent. Formulated by FAO with the contribution of Switzerland and the participation of a broad range of stakeholders, it will support specific policies and institutions aimed at promoting food security, rural livelihoods and sustainable development in mountain regions.
High levels of hunger and malnutrition
Mountains are home to 12 percent of the world's population, or 720 million people, of whom some 270 million are vulnerable to food insecurity and, of these, 135 million suffer chronic hunger and malnutrition.
These high levels of hunger and malnutrition are related to the inaccessibility, complexity and fragility of mountain environments. In addition, mountain people often are politically and socially marginalized as a result of their physical isolation and do not always have a say in decision making.
"Policies need to address the specific needs of mountain people, as well as the essential linkage between mountain and lowland populations. These policies should take into account agricultural, economic, social and cultural issues at all levels," John Monyo also said.
Follow-up to the Adelboden Conference
The second meeting of the Adelboden Group is a follow-up to the Adelboden Conference, held in Switzerland in June 2002, on the eve of the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development.
The Conference drew attention to the vulnerability of mountain people and called in a Declaration on governments, international organizations and civil society to develop and improve sustainable agriculture and rural development policies and action for mountain regions in order to improve the livelihoods of their populations.
The Adelboden Declaration gave birth to the Adelboden Group, which functions as a platform for discussion of policies and policy instruments, exchange of experience and preparation of initiatives for sustainable development in mountain areas.
Updated information and outputs of this second meeting of the Adelboden Group will be available from the 6th of October.
Information Officer, FAO
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