cooperation focusing on the development needs of mountain regions continues to
deepen, thanks to an innovative new partnership and the designation of 11 December
as International Mountain Day.
This week FAO will be leading the world
in the first-ever celebration of the Day, established by the UN General Assembly
in recognition of the global importance of mountain ecosystems and as a mechanism
for promoting sustained attention to the development needs of mountain communities.
FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf will lead observances at the Organization's
Rome headquarters. He will be joined by various FAO partners, including Mr Franco
Frattini, Italy's Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Enrico La Loggia, Italy's Minister
of Regional Affairs.
During the celebrations, FAO will premiere a new
educational exhibit on mountains. A screening of the documentary "Angle on
Hunger" will also be given. The film was produced by FAO's International
Year of Mountains Coordination Unit in cooperation with the BBC.
also developed key messages, communication tools, public service announcements
and a series of information-rich briefing papers. These materials will be distributed
to partners around the world for use during various national events celebrating
A new global partnership
the source of most of the world's freshwater and harbour some of the world's richest
biodiversity," observes Douglas McGuire of FAO's Forestry Department, who
coordinates the agency's work on mountains.
"Yet, each day, crippling
poverty and armed conflict put these irreplaceable global assets at risk,"
he says. "The challenge now is to transform the momentum established last
year during the International Year of Mountains into on-the-ground action."
A lot has already been accomplished, McGuire adds.
coming out of FAO's efforts to consolidate progress made during the International
Year of Mountains was the creation in September 2002 of the International Partnership
for Sustainable Development in Mountain Regions.
Launched by FAO together
with the UN Environment Programme and the Government of Switzerland at the World
Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg and enjoying the strong support
of Italy, the Mountain Partnership now includes 40 countries, 15 intergovernmental
organizations and 38 other players who aim to pool resources, share knowledge
and coordinate efforts related to development and conservation in mountain areas.
The idea behind the Mountain Partnership is to establish clear commitments
and benchmarks for mountain work, develop prioritized plans of action and enhance
cooperation and coordination among its members on these issues.
a lot to be gained when people put their heads together and pool resources,"
explains McGuire. "When you break the issues down into smaller issues, consider
the expertise of those around the world who might work together to find and implement
solutions, you can begin to chart out the way forward."
Another important outcome of the International Year of Mountains
was the creation in 78 countries of national committees charged with coordinating
activities related to the Year.
Now those committees are looking at ways
to continue and deepen that work.
In June 2003 committee representatives
met with FAO and other partner organizations at Chambéry, France, to explore
the possible transition of national committees into more permanent institutions
for concrete and lasting country-level action. They also debated means of promoting
information exchange, networking and regional cooperation on mountain development.
Options for actively involving the committees in the Mountain Partnership were
also discussed at Chambéry.
For more on the challenges of sustainable
development in mountain regions, the importance of mountain ecosystems and FAO's
related work, read the articles and fact sheets featured in this Focus.
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