Key messages                                      




  • Covering around 22 percent of the earth's land surface, mountains play a critical role in moving the world towards sustainable economic growth.
  • Mountains not only provide sustenance and wellbeing to 720 million mountain people around the world, but indirectly benefit billions more living downstream.
  • Mountains provide freshwater, energy and food - resources that will be increasingly scarce in coming decades.

Mountain Family Farming



  • Mountain Farming is largely family farming as mountain areas, with their dispersed patches of usable land at different elevations and slope conditions, are more efficiently managed by small scale farming.
  • Most of the production of mountain farming is for family consumption, playing a key role in ensuring household food security.
  • The production and marketing of high value mountain products can boost local mountain economies.
  • Mountain livelihoods tend to be highly diversified and this has proven to be a key to resilience. Some family members may work in agriculture (farming, forestry, aquaculture or animal husbandry), be employed on a regular or seasonal basis or even abroad.

Mountains and water



  • Mountains provide 60-80 percent of the world's freshwater - without which sustainable development that aims to eliminate poverty and hunger would not be possible.
  • Fresh water from mountains is fundamental for achieving global food security, as it is used by farmers to irrigate crops in many lowland agricultural regions.
  • Some of the world's largest cities, including New York, Rio de Janeiro, Nairobi, Tokyo and Melbourne, are dependent on freshwater from mountains.

Mountains and energy



  • Mountains have a key role to play in providing renewable energy, especially through hydropower, solar power, wind power and biogas.
  • Hydropower currently provides around a fifth of all electricity worldwide, and some countries rely almost exclusively on mountains regions for hydropower generation.
  • Mountains in regions with a dry or tropical climate hold particular potential for the generation of solar energy.

Mountains and food



  • Mountains contribute to food and nutrition security by providing land for crops, grazing for livestock, water courses for inland fisheries, and non-wood forest products such as berries, mushrooms and honey.
  • Mountain farming has been a model for sustainable development for centuries and is inherently "green" thanks to its small-scall character and low-carbon footprint
  • Of the 20 plant species that supply 80 percent of the world's food, six originated and have been diversified in mountains: maize, potatoes, barley, sorghum, quinoa, tomatoes and apples.

last updated:  Monday, December 8, 2014