المدير العام  شو دونيو
Qu Dongyu بيانات المدير العام
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Keynote speech at the opening of International Mountain Day

Madrid, Spain

11 December 2019

 

Excellencies,

Distinguished delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I’m so glad on behalf of FAO to open the celebrations of International Mountain Day.

People cannot forget where we are originally from. We are originally from mountains. People cannot only look forward, we also have to look backwards to see where our ancestors came from.

Covering almost 27 percent of the planet’s surface, mountains provide freshwater to more than half of the world population. They are home to more than 1.1 billion people, and hold a rich variety of cultures, religions and languages and also biodiversity.

We have to make this information more internationally disseminated. Not only in this room. I think everyone in this room knows more than I do. But we have to look outside to really know what we can do.

Our mountain ecosystems, and the benefits for the planet are under threat. So we have to convince the politicians first. I am originally from China, I try to convince the Chinese politicians and that’s a responsibility. In India, Italy and other countries, people have to convince their politicians there. I will talk to some leaders in this climate summit.

We also have to think about small islands. If global warming causes water surface increases by one meter, it’s a disaster for some islands. But it’s not a disaster for mountain people, there one meter is nothing. So we have to rebuild our own confidence, to work together harmoniously with small islands. Small islands are our strongest partners. Next time, I would like to see invited ministers from small islands. They are really suffering from global warming. And in relation to mountains, we have to find the strong partner – not only look to and invite people from mountains.

We also need to change the business model. I always encourage my colleagues at FAO to change their business model, their way of thinking, to get attention and visibility. Otherwise you are always doing business as usual and you build your own small silos. It’s not movement.

Climate change is not the only threat.

Deforestation, mining, tourism, unsustainable farming and population growth – these all increase erosion and desertification, threaten biodiversity and trigger floods and landslides.

In addition, hunger, malnutrition and poverty are rising in mountain areas, especially in developing nations.

In these countries, vulnerability to food insecurity in rural mountains areas increased by 12 percent between 2012 and 2017. In Africa, it rose by 23 percent.

All these facts you already know. I don’t want to repeat them again but this year’s International Mountain Day theme is Mountains Matter for Youth. I would say not only for youth but for the future. Because the youth is our future and the future for this planet.

As FAO DG, the first thing I said in terms of mountains was to change the business model in FAO to draw more attention to mountains in line with the environment and in line with biodiversity. Next year we will have COP15 in China and we want to bring this issue on the stage. Not only small links here, we want to bring those things to the big stage so more people understand what the challenge and what the opportunity are. It’s an opportunity for that, if you want to solve the problem that you face.

Of course, by harnessing the innovation of youth, we can transform agriculture and food systems in mountains.

What is the value of mountains for the food systems? We have to ask ourselves three times or five times to really find a solution to offer the other people. Second, you have to ask yourself to give a solution, a practical solution, to the big picture, not the small system. What is the big system of the mountains in my opinion? Mountain environment is not only for the environment. It is a value for forest. It’s a value for people to build up their personality.

You can see people who grow up in mountains have more persistence. When a child had to climb a mountain to reach five kilometers away on the other side of the mountain. But if you grow up in the flat area, it’s so easy, 5 kilometers. So you have to attract more young people from plain areas and from cities to come to the mountains and build up their personalities to be persistent, to be determined, to be optimistic.

I am from mountains in the south of China, but they are not big mountains. So I was walking five kilometers, ten kilometers when I was a kid. So for me walking five kilometers in Rome is nothing. Because a city walk is so easy. So I think that is some of the value for human beings not only for life. And then what is the mountain environment for industry and for other sectors, for sports and education?

We have to integrate mountain issues related to all the social and economic effects, and then you will be a key player, essential players. That’s one of my assets. And of course for the food system and cultural system transformation. Furthermore, most of the happiest people are from mountains, from Nepal and Bhutan. What is a real sustainable life for the future? We can find solutions in Bhutan and Nepal.

So let’s do it and work together!

Thank you.

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