FAO celebrates International Mountain Day in Turkey


The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) celebrated International Mountain Day with the “International Mountain Day Panel” held at Middle East Technology University (METU) Technocity Cozone on the evening of 11 December.

The day, celebrated this year under the theme of "Mountains matter for Youth”, hosted discussions on the importance of young people's roles as active agents of change and leaders of the future in the conservation of mountain ecosystems.

The event started with a short video message from Yuka Makino, Coordinator of the Mountain Partnership Secretariat, addressing Turkey.

In his opening speech Viorel Gutu, FAO's Subregional  Coordinator for Central Asia and FAO Representative for Turkey, underlined that mountains are home to 15 percent of the global population and a source of food for 1.1 billion (and even more) people living in the mountains. Gutu highlighted that the disasters created by the climate crisis affect the mountains and the resources it provided to us:

“It is no coincidence that our theme this year is 'Mountains matter for Youth'. Young people are not only agents of change and leaders of the future; they are also guardians of the mountains and natural resources. With our theme this year, we are honored to offer opportunity for young generations to take the lead and request that mountains and mountain peoples become central in the international community."

Following the opening speech, FAO Forestry Specialist Peter Pechacek stated in his presentation that mountains cover 27 percent of our planet and, of the 20 plant species that supply 80 percent of the world's food, six originated and have been diversified in mountains.

”The international community must be able to address the needs of mountain communities to continue their lives and mountain ecosystems sustainable development of through national and regional policies and activities," he stated.

The event continued with the panel, “Why are mountains important to younger generations? “ The panel, moderated by Yıldıray Lise, Deputy General Manager of Nature Conservation Center (NCC), was conducted with the participation of Gökmen Argun, UNDP GEF SGP National Coordinator; Ercan Selim Kolbakır, Founding Partner of MONTIS Trips and Expeditions; Ece Saraoğlu, Expert in Ministry of Environment and Urbanization and high-altitude climber; Amy Lillis, US Embassy Political Affairs Officer and Professor Mehmet Somuncu, Head of Geography Department at Ankara University.

The panel highlighted the ongoing migration from the countryside to the city and that young people in rural areas leave their region to meet their basic living needs rather than contributing to their region. The discussion also underlined that local authorities in developed countries take economic measures to conserve the employment rate contributing to the sustainable development of the region and that similar practices should be implemented in Turkey as well.

Despite the increasing migration, the panel noted the increasing interest of urban individuals moving to mountainous areas; yet it should not be perceived as a temporary trend, instead urbans should bring their knowledge and expertise to rural areas.

International Mountain Day, celebrated since 2003, has attracted worldwide attention every year and also provides an important opportunity for people living on the mountain to focus on developing the production value chains on which their livelihoods depend.

Local UN employees, as part of IMD, took part in a nature walk.

Read original version in Turkish

News from FAO in Turkey

Photo from Mehmet Kandemir

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