A celebration of mountains at FAO


The Mountain  Partnership Secretariat held an event at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome, Italy to celebrate International Mountain Day with three Ambassadors to FAO – Italy, the Plurinational State of Bolivia and Switzerland; FAO; the Museo Nazionale della Montagna and Ministry of Environment of Italy. The event featured: the launch of a new publication, “Mapping the vulnerability of mountain peoples to food insecurity”, the inauguration of a photo exhibition showcasing musical traditions from the Bolivian Andes, the reading of mountain literature in several Alpine minority languages and a performance of traditional mountain songs by the Alpine Club Choir of Rome.

After welcoming the more than 100 guests, of which 25 were permanent representatives to FAO, Eduardo Mansur, Director of the FAO Forest Assessment, Management and Conservation Division, in presenting the new publication, announced that the number of people living in the mountainous regions of developing countries vulnerable to food insecurity has risen since 2000. In 2012, research revealed that 39 percent of this population was considered vulnerable to food insecurity, an increase of 30 percent in 12 years. “Having this level of alarming data sends a clear message to policy makers on the importance of including sustainable mountain development in their agendas. But it also underlines the need to make investments, and create an enabling environment to unlock the potential of mountain peoples”, said Mansur.

The three ambassadors highlighted the various roles that mountains play in sustainable development.

“Mountains provide essential benefits to humankind such as water, energy and food. However, let’s not forget that while mountains provide products and services to billions living downstream, they are incredibly fragile places”, said Ambassador Pierfrancesco Sacco of Italy, explaining why mountains matter to us all. He also recognized the work MP members have done to raise the profile of mountains on political agendas, highlighting their advocacy efforts that resulted in three targets dedicated to mountains in the Sustainable Development Goals in September 2015.

Speaking on the theme of this year’s International Mountain Day, Ambassador François Pythoud of Switzerland addressed mountain products and their importance in promoting livelihoods. He, the son of two mountain family farmers, provided the example of L’Etivaz – a Swiss cheese created by a village cooperative in 1932 that became the first Swiss product, other than wine, to obtain a registered designation of origin certification – to demonstrate what smallholders can do with a niche product.

Ambassador Luis Sánchez Gomez of the Plurinational State of Bolivia spoke about the country that inspired the works of art that were unveiled at the event. Explaining that Bolivia, a country of 36 nations, is geographically, ethnically, linguistically and culturally diverse, he encouraged the participants to discover for themselves the mystery and musical traditions of the Bolivian Andes captured in Craig Richard’s photographs.

The exhibition, “Bolivia. Places of Music”, was presented by Dr Aldo Audisio, the Director of the Museo Nazionale della Montagna, or National Mountain Museum.

The event ended with four readings of mountain literature in Alpine minority languages. Dr Paolo Angelini of Italy’s Ministry of the Environment, Land and Sea, also representing the Alpine Convention,  introduced the readings with remarks about the diversity of languages housed in mountains, and how mountain languages are unique to the individual communities that speak them.

After the readings, guests exited to songs sung by the Italian Alpine Club Choir of Rome, who also opened the event.

Read more

See “Mapping the vulnerability of mountain peoples to food insecurity

Download the event programme

View the event photo gallery

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