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"The International Year of Mountains promotes the conservation and sustainable development of mountain regions, thereby ensuring the well-being of mountain and lowland communities"
- IYM Mission Statement

In November 1998, the UN General Assembly declared 2002 the International Year of Mountains (IYM). This decision offers a good opportunity and exciting challenge in the follow-up to Chapter 13 (Sustainable Mountain Development) of Agenda 21. It provides a unique platform to reinforce the long-term process started at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil of raising public awareness and ensuring adequate political, institutional and financial commitment to concrete action for sustainable mountain development, hopefully well beyond 2002.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) was invited to act as the lead agency for the IYM, a role approved by the FAO Council in November 1998. In the UN Resolution, Governments, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and other organizations, were requested to collaborate with FAO.

This section of our web site - based on a concept paper prepared by FAO - presents a guide for IYM preparation and implementation. It provides general guidelines and a framework for all institutions and individuals involved in mountain-related issues and in IYM preparations. It includes an introduction to Chapter 13, the IYM, and key players and networks involved in mountain-related issues, a description of possible and proposed activities, and a vision of projected IYM outputs. Funding issues essential for success are also considered.

More detailed and targeted information and awareness-raising material will be provided through a variety of media to facilitate preparing for the year during the period leading up to 2002.

M. Hosny El-Lakany
Assistant Director-General
Forestry Department
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

The IYM concept paper was prepared by Thomas Hofer, Douglas McGuire and El Hadji Sène of the FAO mountain programme team. Considerable input from within FAO was provided by members of the Interdepartmental Working Group on Sustainable Mountain Development. Invaluable contributions for ideas, orientation and guidance were received from the Inter-Agency Group on Mountains, which is composed of UN agencies, bilateral donors, non-governamental organizations (NGOs) and research institutions worldwide. Greatly appreciated and acknowledged, this important contribution demonstrates that the mountain agenda is led through a proactive and participatory process.