As a UN
agency charged with strengthening agriculture, improving nutrition and alleviating
hunger, FAO has a long history of working in sustainable mountain development.
The Organization was tasked with overseeing implementation of the mountain-related
chapter of Agenda 21, the blueprint for sustainable development that came out
of the 1992 UN Earth Summit. And when 2002 was designated as International Year
of Mountains, FAO was selected to oversee the Year.
More recently, the
Organization has been suggested as the logical place to situate the Secretariat
of the Mountain Partnership, a collaborative effort that now brings 40 countries,
15 intergovernmental organizations and 38 other players together to pool resources,
share knowledge and coordinate efforts related to development and conservation
in mountain areas.
This past October, at the first global meeting of
the Partnership in Merano, Italy, delegates endorsed this plan. Italy and Switzerland
are already providing financial support to FAO for an interim arrangement pending
formal establishment of the Secretariat.
"In this capacity, FAO
will provide crucial support, particularly in the areas of information and communications,
to ensure that members needs are met and that the Partnership is able to deliver
on its promise to be a more effective collaborative mechanism for action in mountain
areas" says Douglas McGuire, head of the Mountain Group at FAO.
will play a key role in developing partnership initiatives related to specific
issues and areas, and will also act as an honest broker to identify resources
and expertise and channel requests for assistance to the right places," he
Beyond these efforts, FAO carries out regular programme work related
to mountain areas on a number of fronts, including:
projects that provide funding and expert advice in mountain areas ranging from
Bolivia to Kazakhstan. FAO's Special Programme for Food Security is also helping
high-altitude low-income food-deficit countries;
deepening our understanding
of mountain ecosystems and of the needs of the often-vulnerable communities
that live there through research, studies and tools like FAO's Food Insecurity
and Vulnerability Information and Mapping Systems;
playing a leadership
role in diverse international efforts to establish cooperative mechanisms to promote
sustainable development and poverty alleviation in the world's mountain zones;
technical guidelines and educational materials on issues such as watershed management
that can be used to apply sustainable development practices in highland areas;
in-depth reviews of mountain-related laws, policies and strategies to help countries
avoid mistakes and implement successful mountain initiatives.
Information Officer, FAO