Key messages

  • Mountains cover 22 percent of the world’s land surface  and are home to 13 percent of the world’s population, some 915 million people.
  • They provide between 60-80 percent of the world’s population with fresh water for drinking, domestic use, irrigation, hydropower and industry. 
  • They support approximately 25 percent of terrestrial biodiversity as well as vital genetic resources for locally adapted crops and livestock.
  • Mountain ecosystems are extremely vulnerable to climate change – and consequences such as rapid glacier melting are far-reaching and potentially devastating.  
  • Mountain people are among the world’s poorest and hungriest: in developing countries, 39 percent are considered vulnerable to food insecurity, an estimated 329 million people.
  • Climate change, inappropriate land use, deforestation and population growth can endanger livelihoods, threaten biodiversity and trigger disasters such as floods and landslides


Expert interviews


Keeping an Eye on SDG 15 28 June 2017 The brochure presents the three indicators under SDG 15, for which FAO is the custodian agency: 15.1.1-Forest area as a proportion of total land area, 15.2.1-Progress towards sustainable forest management and 15.4.2-Mountain Green Cover Index. Countries provide FAO with data for indicators 15.1.1 and 15.2.1 as part of the Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA) process. The Mountain Partnership Secretariat (MPS) produces data for indicator 15.4.2 using remote sensing, and national-level data are distributed to governments for validation. FAO supports countries in their monitoring efforts through advanced software tools, training and networking. [more]
Working together for mountain peoples and environments 24 November 2016 The Brochure explains the mission and the vision of the Mountain Partnership and illustrates the key challenges that mountain ecosystems and peoples face. It lists the activities of the Mountain Partnership in its aim of promoting sustainable mountain development. and its shows concrete examples of the Partnership in action. [more]
Infographic: Mapping the vulnerability of mountain peoples to food insecurity 11 December 2015 While global hunger figures are decreasing, the number of food insecure people in mountain areas rose 30 percent between 2000 and 2012. Mapping the vulnerability of mountain peoples to food insecurity found that the number of food insecure people living in mountain regions in developing countries grew to nearly 329 million in 2012, up from 253 million in 2000, even though the overall population of the world's mountain peoples increased only by 16 percent during that same time. That means that one in three mountain people, both urban and rural, in developing countries faced hunger and malnutrition, compared to one out of nine people globally. And focusing on only rural mountain populations, which depend on natural resources such as land, water and forests for their livelihoods, the numbers get even starker: almost half of them are food insecure. [more]
Mapping the vulnerability of mountain peoples to food insecurity 11 December 2015 For millions of people living in mountainous areas, hunger and the threat of hunger are nothing new. Harsh climates and the difficult, often inaccessible terrain, combined with political and social marginality make mountain peoples vulnerable to food shortages. One in three mountain people in developing countries is facing hunger and malnutrition. This study presents an updated geographic and demographic picture of the world’s mountain areas and assesses the vulnerability to food insecurity of mountain dwellers in developing countries, based on a specially designed model. The final section presents an alternative and complementary approach to assessing hunger by analyzing household surveys. [more]
Understanding mountain soils 1 December 2015 Produced by the Mountain Partnership as a contribution to the International Year of Soils 2015, this publication presents the main features of mountain soil systems, their environmental, economic and social values, the threats they are facing and the cultural traditions concerning them. Case studies provided by Mountain Partnership members and partners around the world showcase challenges and opportunities as well as lessons learned in soil management. This publication presents a series of lessons learned and recommendations to inform mountain communities, policy-makers, development experts and academics who support sustainable mountain development. [more]

Field projects

FAO is an active member of the Mountain Partnership, a voluntary alliance of partners dedicated to improving the lives of mountain people and protecting mountain environments around the world. Through its membership and expertise the organization addresses the challenges facing mountain regions and stimulates initiatives that will ensure improved quality of life and environments in the world’s mountain regions.

FAO has been actively conducting work in the fields of sustainable mountain development, watershed management and forest hydrology;

last updated:  Monday, October 17, 2016