CL 117/INF/14


Hundred and Seventeenth Session

Rome, 9-11 November 1999


Table of Contents

I. Introduction

1.     Chapter 13 of Agenda 21 addresses the sustainable development of mountains. These are considered fragile ecosystems and necessitate special efforts for a better knowledge of the resources they contain and sustained action for the development and conservation of mountain resources and communities. The main objectives of chapter 13 aim at i) raising awareness of the importance of and improving understanding of sustainable mountain development issues at global, regional and national level; ii) protecting natural resources and developing technical and institutional arrangements for natural disaster reduction; iii) strengthening a global information network and database, for organizations, governments and individuals concerned with mountain issues; iv) strengthening country capacity to improve planning, implementation and monitoring of sustainable mountain development programmes and activities; v) combating poverty; and vi) formulating and negotiating regional or sub-regional mountain conventions and possibly developing a global mountain charter.

2.     FAO has fully addressed the internal aspects of its task manager responsibility in the implementation of Agenda 21 chapter 13 in an expanded mountain programme, which is supported by the Forestry Department but also various units of all other departments of the Organization. An interdepartmental working group, drawing its resources from all units interested, supports the implementation of the mountain programme. Cooperation with and decentralisation towards regional offices have increased significantly in the implementation of chapter 13, and an unprecedented mobilisation of non-governmental and governmental institutions in developed as well as in developing countries has served to strengthen implementation and make this a truly participatory process at all levels.

3.     The objective of this document is essentially to report to the Council, prior to the Thirtieth Session of the Conference in November 1999, on activities specifically focused on the preparation of the International Year of Mountains and to assess the financial requirement for this undertaking.

II. Organizational Activities for the Implementation of Chapter 13

4.     The implementation of chapter 13, the related reporting and the preparations of the observance of the International Year of Mountains constitute a compact body of activities in the FAO programme. The efforts to maintain these activities together and create positive synergies among these are an important target. A number of organizational arrangements have been effected which are recalled below.

Reactivating the Inter-agency Group on Mountains

5.     FAO convened the Fifth ad hoc inter-agency meeting on chapter 13 implementation in Rome, 10 to 12 March 1999, thus restarting the collaborative mechanism on chapter 13. The Inter-agency Group on Mountains, which has provided support and guidance to the task manager in the implementation of chapter 13, will continue this role in the preparation and observance of the IYM. The March meeting brought together this group of leading international agencies and organizations involved in chapter 13. It laid the groundwork for further coordinating action and preparing the observance of the International Year of Mountains. The Meeting discussed ideas and vision and started the process of sharing responsibilities among institutions to implement the IYM at regional and international levels.

6.     The Sixth ad hoc inter-agency meeting on chapter 13 was organized on 2 October 1999. It examined among other issues the draft Concept Paper on the IYM and generally approved its content. It also made a number of suggestions concerning a draft proposal to establish a multi-lateral trust fund, stressing the importance of a close scrutiny and careful prioritization of activities to be supported centrally.

Promoting Networking on Mountain Issues

7.     Networks of governmental and non-governmental institutions and individuals have become over time an essential tool in the implementation of Agenda 21 chapter 13. FAO, along with relevant CGIAR and non-CGIAR centres competent in mountain issues, The Mountain Institute and a number of national institutions have facilitated the advent of mountain related networks after the Mountain Forum has been constituted. Regional nodes of the Mountain Forum have been now constituted in all regions, Africa and North America having been the last on board respectively in August and September 1999. The establishment of these networks in all regions and in some cases the existence of sub-regional networks will help build an exceptional outreach that will put the observance of the International Year of Mountains under particularly favourable conditions.

Improving FAO organizational readiness

8.     The implementation of Agenda 21 chapter 13 has helped further promote integration and inter-departmental cohesion in the development of activities relating to the conservation and development of mountain resources, especially in mountain watershed management, agricultural and range management activities, sustainable management of mountain forests and other related issues. To further promote this interdepartmental cooperation and integration, an interdepartmental working group on mountains has been reactivated. This group has started gathering information on relevant activities and contributing to the preparation of the International Year of Mountains at the conceptual phase and will contribute actively to the operational phase when the moment arrives.

Strengthening Activities in the Watershed Management and Sustainable Mountain Development Programme:

9.     The preparation of the PWB 2000-2001 has provided the opportunity to strengthen the programme on mountains and watershed management. The new programme includes several clusters, which will promote substantive activities in pursuing the following objectives:

10. The identification of the major partners and collaborators in mountain-related activities and the promotion of a process to share responsibility and avoid unnecessary overlap including with NGOs will of course accompany this.

III. Steps Towards the Observance of the International Year of Mountains

11.     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.


12.     In a drive to fully inform and enlist the support of those governments particularly interested in mountain issues FAO organized at its headquarters on 9/7/99 a briefing meeting on the mountain agenda and on the IYM. Permanent Representatives to FAO provided guidance in the preparation of the IYM. The importance of information and educational material on the IYM were deemed very important, with special attention reserved to children and schools. The IYM should be implemented in a way that is beneficial to people in an operational manner and not only limited to external and event related celebrations. The specific role of NGOs should be well clarified and special attention to gender issues should be secured. Attention was drawn on the many uses of mountain resources and services. The aspect of conflicts in use was highlighted and care advised so as to present and cater for a balanced approach. The call was renewed to interested countries to support the process and provide necessary supplementary resources for a successful preparation and observance.

13.     Countries have started their process towards the International Year of Mountains. As an example Italy has just set up its national committee for the IYM which was launched in a meeting held in June 1999 in Rome, starting what promises to be an active preparatory process towards 2002. Lessons from this experience have already been shared and a number of other countries are currently starting the same process and already requesting support to FAO and other technical cooperation agencies.


14.     The activities that most centrally address the request of the 115th Session of the Council have been the preparation of the concept paper for the observance of the International Year of Mountains and the formulation of a trust fund project that will support the observance of the year. The concept paper is intended to be a policy-cum-strategy of the observance of the year. Following the 115th Session of the Council the response to the call for cooperation with and support to FAO in the preparation and observance of the year is the formulation of a project that would support the various financial needs to prepare and observe the year.

Concept Paper

15.     The IYM concept paper is in an advanced state of formulation. In the spirit of a cooperative approach to the mountain programme, the document was discussed at the 6th Session of the ad hoc Inter-agency group on mountains and is being finalised based on review and input from the group's members. It aims to provide general guidelines and a framework for all institutions and individuals involved in mountain-related issues and in the preparations for the International Year of Mountains. The document includes elements such as: i) an introduction to Chapter 13 and the International Year of Mountains; ii) the key players and networks involved in mountain-related issues; iii) the substance of the IYM observance comprising clusters of necessary, possible and proposed activities; and iv) fund-raising considerations. The IYM mission statement in the concept paper states that the International Year of Mountains, "through adequate information and promotion by the collaborating agencies, helps to ensure the sustainable development of mountain regions and the well being of their populations".

Resources Needed to Implement the International Year of Mountains: Trust Fund Proposal

16.     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, in particular the advice gathered from the consultations organized in-house and with partners in the Mountain Forum and in the ad hoc Interagency Group on Mountains, suggest an observance with the following characteristics.

17.     The elements of the proposal are expected to support the following major clusters:

a)     Establishment of a specialised Promotion and Coordination Unit: this unit will start being operational by June 2000. It should plan, coordinate, facilitate, monitor and report on IYM preparations and observance. The cost of establishing and operating the Coordination Unit for a period of 3 years is estimated at approximately US$1,000,000 (see Annex). This is additional to the Regular Programme resources that will be allocated for this purpose, which consist mainly of staff time. The establishment of this unit is an overriding priority and should be given immediate attention.

b)     Production of Information, Awareness-raising and Education Material to support the IYM: one of the main objectives of international years is achieving greater awareness and sharing information on the particular theme of the observance. For the IYM, the production of various types of material for this purpose will be produced under all available forms of advanced information technology. This material includes promotional packages, issues paper, information on facts and events on mountains, education material and ideas and suggestions for national and local observance.

c)     Support to and Promotion of National Observance. In all internationally supported programmes there is always expectation that some support accrue from the international mechanism to catalyse national and local activities including training. This function should be envisaged in this case.

d)     Key International Events. Support is expected to be provided to regional processes of the International Year of Mountains. These will include regional and/or mountain range-based workshops and consultations or conferences, and initiatives from academic and research institutions.

e)     Support to Programme Formulation. The International Year of Mountains should start and finish with programme development addressing mountain populations and the conservation and development of mountain resources. Achievements and impact of the Year should translate into more action being implemented in mountain ecosystems for mountain communities. The international mechanism supporting the year should facilitate and promote national policy formulation and programming.

f)     An International Conference on Mountains. The holding of an international conference on mountains has been considered since the beginning of the chapter 13 process. No decision has been taken on this so far and the activity has not been included in the proposed trust fund. The guidance of the Council is needed on the issue. Although separate, the preparation of such a conference will affect the work of the coordination unit.

18.     The overall cost of the trust fund will amount to approximately US$5 million, all of which needs to be mobilised through extra-budgetary sources. A wide-reaching fund raising strategy is envisaged for this purpose. It will include bilateral and multilateral sources, as well as contributions 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.

IV. Conclusions and Recommendations for the Steps Ahead

19.     With no doubt the mountain programme has produced a lot of interest from countries and institutions and the observance of the International Year of Mountains should benefit from this situation and expand interest. This entails the obligation to facilitate a meaningful programme of action that is concrete and focused at the national level and capable of producing significant and durable impacts. To achieve this, there is a need for broad-based funding and immediate commitment. The process has received positive support and encouragement, but up to now, only the Swiss Government has provided substantial financial support. Accordingly, the Council might want:



Multi-lateral Trust Fund






1. Coordination Unit        
   1 Professional Officer 3 yrs 130,000/yr 390,000  
   1 Support staff 3 yrs 36,000/yr 108,000  
   Consultants 12 person/months 15,000/mo 180,000 Includes fees, travel and per diem
   Contracts 3 yrs Lumpsum 150,000  
   Equipment   Lumpsum 30,000 Computer equipment, color printer, photocopier, scanner, etc.
General Operating Expenses 3 yrs 24,000/yr 72,000  
Travel (2 persons x 4 trips/yr) 3 yrs 4,000 96,000  
2. Information packages + promotional material   Lumpsum 500,000 Includes material produced in various media (printed material, , posters, video, etc.)
3. National observance activities (seed money for 50countries)   5,000 250,000  
4. Key international events1        
   Regional meetings (4)   200,000 800,000  
   Other technical
   workshops (10)
  25,000 250,000  
5. Studies and publications (2 global, 6 regional)   Lumpsum 350,000  
6. Support to national programme formulation (20 countries)   100,000 2,000,000  
Total     5,176,000  


1 Funding for an International Conference on Mountains will be considered under separate arrangements