ADELBODEN, (SWITZERLAND) 20
June 2002 -- The international community should pay more
attention to the plight of millions of people in mountain areas,
according to the final declaration of a four-day international
conference, which ended today.
people are often exposed to poverty, hunger, social and
political marginalization and conflicts, according to the
Adelboden Declaration, adopted by 200 representatives of
mountain people, governments, international organizations and
civil society groups from about 50 countries. FAO estimates that
about 770 million people, or 12 percent of the world's
population, live in mountain areas.
International Conference on Sustainable Agriculture and Rural
Development in Mountain Regions was organized by the Swiss
Federal Office of Agriculture in close collaboration with FAO.
Because globalization has often had
negative effects on mountain areas, the Declaration calls for
the removal of market distortions.
Declaration states that mountain people should have better
access to markets and financial services and should receive fair
compensation for environmental and other goods and services.
These regions require special attention
because mountain ecosystems are exceedingly fragile, mountain
communities are geographically isolated and mountain people face
difficult climatic conditions, making production, marketing and
development more difficult, according to the Declaration.
Conference participants pointed to the key
role of agriculture in the development of mountain areas and
emphasized the need for more economic diversification.
To improve living conditions in mountain
areas, the Declaration called for recognition of the rights of
local communities, indigenous and tribal people and vulnerable
groups based on their knowledge, natural resources and
technologies, property and access to land.
to the Declaration, people in mountain areas should have access
to food, clean water and basic services such as education,
health, sanitation, housing and energy. The legal status and the
rights of women should be respected.
Conference participants also called for the promotion
of all forms of sustainable farming practices in mountain
countries and said that efforts should focused on combating
deforestation, soil erosion and land degradation, loss of
biodiversity, disruption of water flows and retreat of glaciers.
If illegal crops are eradicated, compensation should be
The results of the
conference will be presented at the World Summit on Sustainable
Development, to be held in Johannesburg 26 August to 4 September
2002, and at the Bishkek Global Mountain Summit to be held in
Kyrgyzstan in October 2002.
FAO is task manager for
chapters 13 (mountains) and 14 (sustainable agriculture and
rural development) of Agenda 21 and the lead United Nations
agency for the International Year of Mountains.
Some key facts on mountain areas:
- Around 20 percent of South Asia consists of
highland and mountain zones suffering moderate to severe levels
of poverty and having low potential for agricultural growth and
- More than 25 percent
of the East Asia and Pacific region is categorized as uplands
and highlands with extensive poverty.
Latin America's hillside agricultural ecosystems sustain an
estimated 10 million small farmers, most of whom live in
marginalized communities. About half of these ecosystems show
signs of serious environmental degradation resulting from
deforestation, over-grazing and harmful agricultural practices.
- Over 60 percent of the hillsides in
Central America are subject to severe water erosion caused by