CL 119/INF/8


Hundred and Nineteenth Session

Rome, 20-25 November 2000


Information Note

Table of Contents



1. In 1993, FAO was designated Task Manager for the implementation of Agenda 21 Chapter 13 (Managing fragile ecosystems: sustainable mountain development). In that role it is responsible for coordinating, steering and animating UN agencies' efforts to implement measures and recommendations prescribed in this chapter on implementation of sustainable mountain development. Since then, it has been carrying out this responsibility through a variety of means, both internal and external, which are described below.

2. In 1998, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) took an additional important step in recognizing the importance of sustainable mountain development by declaring 2002 the International Year of Mountains (IYM) and invited FAO to be the lead agency in the UN system responsible for preparing the observance of this year.

3. Under the overall goal of ensuring sustainable development of mountain regions and the well being of their populations, the International Year of Mountains should serve, inter alia:

4. These objectives will be achieved through a variety of means, including: generation and exchange of information; awareness raising and sensitization; education, training and extension; documentation of best practices based on successful field case studies; and promotion of mountain-specific policy formulation and legislation. Efforts will have to be made at both international and national levels and the IYM will be only considered a success if there is significant follow-up at both levels.


5. The implementation of Chapter 13, the related reporting and the preparations for the observance of the IYM constitute a compact body of activities in the FAO programme. A number of organizational arrangements have been effected. These include the following:

6. FAO has strengthened the programme on mountains and watershed management programme initiatives have been taken and a senior watershed management consultant has been recruited, whose main role is to ensure that FAO's technical programme in watershed management is revitalised and maintained at a high level of activity, including both field and normative aspects, while the Organization is carrying out its lead agency role for the IYM.


7. A number of initiatives have been taken to start the preparation for the IYM, including dissemination of information, enlisting country support and guidance, conceptualisation of the IYM programme and consolidation of funding.

Enlisting country support and guidance

8. In a drive to fully inform and enlist the support of those governments particularly interested in mountain issues, FAO held a briefing meeting (Rome, July 1999) and discussion on the mountain agenda and on the IYM for Permanent Representatives to FAO. The outcome of the discussion emphasized the need to ensure that IYM implementation provides direct benefits to people, recognize the special role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the importance of gender issues.

9. By December 2000, more elements to support and guide national participation will be available, including information and promotional packages. The IYM coordination unit at FAO has already been established and begun preparing the IYM, despite a lack of adequate resources. It is expected to be fully operational by early 2001. The official IYM logo has already been released and made available for public use and a dedicated IYM web site has been established (

Concept and resource needs

10. To fully inform the preparatory process and provide a clear framework for the observance of the IYM, a concept paper has been formulated. It aims to provide general guidelines and a framework for preparations for the IYM for all institutions and individuals involved in mountain-related issues. In addition, an assessment of needs and the formulation of a multi-donor trust fund were developed, in response to the request by the 115th session of the FAO Council which recommended countries, in particular donor countries, to provide support, including extra-budgetary resources, for this effort.

11. The 115th session of the Council recommended that FAO look into the needs for funding and to report to it in one of its upcoming sessions. The discussions and exchange of views developed on the subject, including the advice gathered from the consultations organized in-house and with a number of external partners, in particular through the ad hoc Inter-Agency Group on Mountains, suggest an observance with a multi-faceted approach that deals with a variety of issues at national, regional and global levels. However, the greatest emphasis is being placed on action at the national level, which is expected to have the most effective long term impact on sustainable mountain development.

12. The means needed for the observance of the IYM are aimed to support the following major clusters:

13. Resources needed to cover all these activities and measures have been estimated at a minimum cost of US$ 5 million, all of which need to be mobilized through extra-budgetary sources. A comprehensive fund raising and resource mobilisation strategy is being formulated within FAO and with the assistance of the Inter-Agency Group on Mountains, which recently addressed this issue at its most recent meeting, held from 13 to 15 November 2000 in Geneva. The fund raising strategy will include not only bilateral and multilateral sources, but will aim to mobilize significant financial resources from non-traditional sources such as private foundations and corporations. However, immediate contributions essential for the effective start-up of core activities, especially related to promotion and coordination of the IYM, will depend primarily on bilateral sources.

14. The Inter-agency meeting mentioned above also served to define a practical plan of action to address not only the immediate observance of the IYM in 2002, but also a more long term approach to sustainable mountain development that builds enhanced partnership and strives to achieve concrete objectives by means of clearly defined and tangible outputs.

UN Secretary-General's progress report on IYM preparations

15. The UN Secretary-General issued a report to the 55th session of the UN General Assembly in October 2000, wich deals with the status of preparations for the IYM. The report, prepared by FAO as lead agency in close collaboration with other partners, describes activities at national, regional and international levels, and provides examples of specific action taken in selected countries. The report also explores areas that require greater attention in preparing for the Year and reiterates the need for additional mobilization of funds for a successful observance, emphasizing the importance of innovative approaches that include private sector and philanthropic sources. Finally, proposals for the next steps to be taken in preparing for the Year are suggested in the report.

16. Additional overall support to IYM preparations has also been provided through a draft UNGA resolution that was prepared during the 55th session of the UNGA, which again encourages support for the IYM, including voluntary financial contributions, from a wide variety of actors and covers the issue of mobilizing adequate funding to implement the Year.