Malawi forms national mountain committee


Malawi will form a national committee on mountains, decided the participants of an inception workshop on sustainable mountain development (SMD) held on 29 September 2017. The participants also agreed that there is a need to develop a national strategy on SMD to address the challenges facing the country’s mountain ecosystems and communities.

Organized by the by the Land Resources Conservation Department jointly with the Environmental Affairs Department (EAD) of Malawi, the inception workshop on SMD was held to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change on mountain communities and biodiversity; highlight the challenges and opportunities of SMD; identify strategies for adaptation for the country’s different sectors; create a national committee on mountains; discuss funding; and plan the 2017 celebration of International Mountain Day. Participants in the workshop included representatives of government departments, local and international NGOs, civil society groups and academic institutions.

Malawi organizes inception workshop on sustainable mountain development.Key partners gave presentations to provide an overview of the importance of mountains, the issues affecting them and the current initiatives in Malawi focusing on mountains. Macpherson Nthara, Mountain Partnership focal point of the Government of Malawi, introduced the Mountain Partnership and its activities, the key barriers to SMD in Malawi and the justification for developing a national strategy on SMD. Mphatso Kalemba, Principal Environmental Offer of the EAD, continued with a discussion of the EAD’s efforts to perverse mountain biodiversity and promote local communities’ access to genetic resources in relation to mountain biodiversity. Moffat Kayembe, Programme Officer of the Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust (MMCT), then highlighted the significance of Mulanje Mountain as the source of nine perennial rivers, a host of biodiversity, a key destination for tourists and an income generator for local communities. He noted the ecological and sociological threats to Mulanje Mountain and the MMCT’s strategies to address these threats.

During the plenary discussion that followed, the workshop participants noted that there are already ongoing efforts in Malawi to sustain the ecosystem services derived from mountains and that the formation of a national committee on mountains should not undermine the government departments and national parks involved but rather strengthen them. It was agreed that a holistic approach to creating a national strategy on SMD is needed due to the complex nature of issues in mountains; the strategy should balance the interests and concerns of all parties involved. Furthermore, the participants recognized the need to raise awareness about SMD so that government departments can institutionalize it and allocate resources towards SMD.

In closing, the meeting resolved to form a national committee on mountains. The composition of the committee, to include members of government departments and NGOs, was agreed upon, and the Terms of Reference of the committee were brainstormed. Workshop participants also agreed on the need to develop a national strategy on SMD, along with a work plan and budget to develop the strategy. Lastly, it was decided that Malawi should take part in activities to celebrate International Mountain Day. A task force will be formed to organize the observance, along with a concept note and budget to share with possible partners.

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Photo: Macpherson Nthara

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