NICOSIA, CYPRUS, 29-31 May 2002

Agenda Item 10



1. In 1998 the United Nations General Assembly declared 2002 the International Year of Mountains (IYM) and invited FAO to be the lead agency to prepare and coordinate observance of the Year. Under the overall goal of ensuring the well-being of mountain populations by promoting sustainable development of mountain regions, IYM objectives are to:

2. The last objective has become increasingly relevant in the world today, given the large number of armed conflicts affecting mountain areas and the devastating impact this has had on already poor and marginalized populations. Peace and stability are an absolute prerequisite to development and prosperity and underlie all other objectives of the Year.


3. FAO has already taken a number of measures to fulfil its role as the lead agency to prepare and coordinate observance of the Year (2002). An IYM coordination unit has been established in the Forestry Department at FAO headquarters. Additional staffing has been recruited, mainly through extra-budgetary resources, to cover the various responsibilities related to this work. This strength will be sustained through the establishment of a new Regular Programme professional post in the Forestry Department in Sustainable Mountain Development in the 2002-2003 bienniums. Interdepartmental cooperation will be secured through the FAO Interdepartmental Working Group on Mountains.
4. An IYM Focus Group of Permanent Representatives to the United Nations in New York has been established to provide support and guidance to the IYM observance. The group has been closely involved in preparations for the official launch ceremony held in December 2001 at UN headquarters. The IYM Focus Group includes representatives from Austria, Bhutan, Bolivia, Ethiopia, France, Guatemala, Iceland, Italy, Jamaica, Kyrgyzstan, Lao PDR, Lesotho, Peru, Slovenia and Switzerland.


5. Communication tools to support and guide national participation, including information and promotional packages, has been developed and are being disseminated to a wide variety of partners, including IYM national committees. The IYM coordination unit at FAO has launched the official IYM logo and made it available for public use, while the dedicated IYM web site ( has undergone further development and is currently available in English, French and Spanish. Cooperation is being sought through bilateral arrangements to expand the language coverage. An official slogan for the IYM, “We are all mountain people”, is also now available. In addition, practical information materials have been developed and disseminated to countries to assist in mobilizing and organizing the observance of the IYM at the national level.
6. As one of the most important objectives of the IYM will be to raise awareness on mountain issues, the IYM coordination unit has prepared its communications plan. The plan defines the Unit’s strategy and approach to raising awareness, promoting and mobilizing action on the IYM. It indicates key audiences, main messages, means and opportunities to inform through a comprehensive public awareness campaign.


7. The main focus of attention and support for IYM observance is at country level. Although many global and regional mountain events are planned for 2002, awareness raising and mobilizing interested stakeholders at national level are viewed as the key to long term success of the IYM, particularly in terms of ensuring sustained action toward development and conservation in mountain regions. By mid April 2002, 59 countries had established or were in the process of establishing a National Committee or similar mechanism responsible for the preparatory activities and celebration of the IYM; many more countries had established a focal point for the IYM; and in the European region, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, France, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey and the Ukraine had established or indicated intent to establish a national committee or had designated a focal point. Through extra-budgetary resources, FAO was able to provide modest financial support to national committees in some developing countries or countries in transition to assist with national observance efforts.
8. National Committees have the potential to play an important role in many countries, not only in terms of the IYM observance in 2002, but well beyond that. In some countries, these committees provide an institutional setting that for the first time would allow different interest groups and stakeholders involved in mountain issues to come together and consider discussing these issues in a coherent and integrated manner. Given the broad-based membership of most national committees, a variety of perspectives from government, NGO, private sector and other interest groups are being brought to bear in determining how to move forward in implementing sustainable mountain development. These committees can play a key role in developing long term national strategies and programmes for mountain areas, and this has already happened in some countries.


9. Significant rearrangements of Regular Programme resources, largely regarding staff time, have been made to support preparations for IYM so far. Extra-budgetary resources are required to support the work being carried out directly by the IYM coordination unit in providing the necessary assistance for the preparation and observance of the IYM at national, regional and global levels. Resources are also needed to support the observance being organized within countries through direct support to National Committees and to assist countries in the formulation of national strategies and programmes for their mountain areas. To this end a comprehensive fund-raising and resource mobilization strategy has been formulated within FAO and a multi-donor trust fund has been set up to raise the US$ 6 million approximately needed to carry out the activities defined in the IYM project proposal. In the period leading up to April 2002 about US$1,000,000 had been contributed by donor countries (Italy, Switzerland and Austria) to the trust fund.


10. FAO, as lead agency, convened a meeting in July 2001 with representatives of the major global events currently scheduled for the IYM. The meeting, hosted by the Swiss Government, was held to establish closer collaboration among the major events to ensure a well coordinated and coherent overall approach to the IYM. The aim was to ensure that each of the major global processes and events has the opportunity and is encouraged to build on the results of the other processes that precede it, and that all the results are fully considered and duly recognized at the final IYM Conference. Furthermore, relevant global IYM meetings include:


11. In view of the coinciding observance in 2002 of the International Year of Mountains and the International Year of Ecotourism (IYE) (website: sustainable/IYE-Main-Menu.htm), member countries of the Committee on Forestry, who met in March 2001, urged FAO to collaborate with organizers of the IYE to ensure that both Years are fully synchronized. The World Tourism Organization (WTO) and UNEP are co-lead agencies for the IYE. Since a large portion of tourist activities occurs in mountain areas, simultaneous observance of both international years in 2002 provides an important opportunity to jointly build awareness and new synergies. A World Summit on Ecotourism will be held in Quebec, Canada, in May 2002 and is expected to discuss ecotourism in mountains.


12. Europe is very active in the implementation of Chapter 13 of Agenda 21 and in the observance of the International Year of Mountains. FAO is involved in many national and regional processes within Europe. A number of countries have organized their national launch events of the International Year of Mountains including France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland. A number of initiatives for global IYM-events (see above) originate in Europe including the High Summit 2002 (initiated by the Italian Committee for the IYM), the 2nd World Meeting of Mountain Populations (a follow up to the French-initiated World Mountain Forum held in Chambéry in June 2000) and the World Mountain Symposium as well as the conference on Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development in Mountain Areas (both initiated by the Government of Switzerland).
13. A number of important mountain-related regional networks and processes have emerged or have progressed over the last years, for example:
• European National Committees, focal points for the IYM and other European mountain stakeholders have met twice at the European Parliament at the invitation of its "Friends of Mountains" Group in order to share experiences and to discuss collaboration for IYM observance;
• The European Mountain Forum is very active at the regional and sub-regional levels. This structure ensures the exchange of information, experiences and concerns across the regional, national and local levels and caters to specific linguistic needs;
• Assisted by UNEP, Armenia, Georgia and the Russian Federation have initiated a process to develop a legal instrument for the protection of the Caucasian Mountainous Ecosystems.
14. A number of important regional mountain-related events are taking place during the International Year of Mountains. Some of the major ones include:
• The International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation (UIAA) hosts its main European celebration of the International Year of Mountains in Trento (Italy) during the period 2-4 May;
• The third European meeting on Mountains, organised by EUROMONTANA (European Association of Mountain Regions), is held in Inverness (Scotland) from 16-18 May;
• The 4th International Consultation on "Mountain Forests in 2002: Lessons Learned, Societal Challenges, and a Vision Beyond 2002", organised by the European Observatory of Mountain Forests, is held from 26-28 June in Navarre (Spain);
• The 50th session of the European Forestry Commission Working Party on the Management of Mountain Watersheds is held from 16-18 September in Davos (Switzerland);
• The conference on Nature and People: Conservation and Management in the Mountains of Northern Europe is held from 6-9 November in Pitlochry (Scotland).