The Andes to ‘bridge’ six nations


On 7-9 May 2014 in San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina, government officials representing Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and Colombia further elaborated an Andean governmental mechanism for the sustainable development of the Andean mountains. The meeting, organized by the Argentinean Mountain Committee and the Mountain Partnership Secretariat (MPS), built on the results of a project promoted by the MPS and funded by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), whose main outputs were the creation or strengthening of national mountain committees in six Andean countries (including Ecuador and Peru) and the set up of  a regional structure to address transboundary issues. 

Aware of the challenges affecting the sustainable development of the Andes, the participants agreed to make the regional mechanism operational as soon as possible and define its governance and workplan. It will be the only existing platform for addressing mountain development issues at regional political level and will also ensure that the voices of the Andes be heard at international level. 

The mountains, ‘with all their richness and wisdom,’ can now be ‘bridges to our Latin American brothers,’ said Argentina’s former Minister of Environment, Yolanda Ortiz, in her opening speech. The first female Minister of Environment in Latin America and a strong advocate for mountain development, Ortiz, jointly with Ambassador María Esther Bondanza, promoted the celebration of the International Year of Mountains in 2002 and the creation of the Mountain Committee in Argentina in 2005.   

Dr Silvia Revora, Under-Secretary of Planning and Environmental Policy of the Ministry of Environment  and President of the Mountain Committee of Argentina, told the meeting that the foundation has been laid for an effective regional mechanism. It should promote the sustainable use of Andean natural resources and have a positive impact on livelihoods, she said, noting that it is time to obtain some financial resources for a regional project aimed at promoting the development of the Andes.

“Over the last decade, we have seen political interest in mountain issues grow immensely,”  said Rosalaura Romeo of the MPS. Steps are being taken to engage the government of Venezuela, a member of the Mountain Partnership, in the regional mechanism in order to include all seven of the Andean countries. National Mountain Committees - comprising government bodies and non-governmental organizations - now exist or are being officially established in each of the six countries. 

The MPS-FAO project strengthened and expanded the institutional capacity of the six Andean countries to promote sustainable mountain development in the region.  It also aimed to improve the participatory management of natural resources in the Andes by strengthening national institutions, increasing political attention and training, and sharing knowledge about mountain ecosystems. 

Regional dialogue and transboundary cooperation on mountain issues are  called for, also to identify the activities, strategies and policies for the Andean mountain region at local, national and regional levels.
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Agenda: Reunión Subregional de la Iniciativa Andina - Mecanismo Regional

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