Action in mountains vital to global goals


United Nations (UN) diplomats in New York, USA, called for efforts to address the rising rate of food insecurity in the mountainous areas of developing countries on 6 May 2016, and to meet the goals defined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Gathered by the Permanent Missions to the UN of Italy, the Kyrgyz Republic, Malawi and Peru and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Liaison Office in New York, meeting participants discussed the findings of a study called “Mapping the vulnerability of mountain people to food insecurity”, published by FAO with Mountain Partnership Secretariat support.

“Every third person in the mountains in developing countries is food insecure, a rate that is unacceptably high,” Thomas Hofer, Mountain Partnership Secretariat Coordinator, said while presenting the study that gives a current picture of hunger in the mountains globally and by region.

Carla Mucavi, Director of the FAO Liaison Office to the UN, highlighted FAO’s interest to end hunger in the mountains. Specifically, she spoke of the Mountain Facility that FAO launched at a meeting of UN diplomats in Rome, Italy on 22 April 2016. “We believe this could be an excellent mechanism to fight food insecurity in the mountains and promote development,” she said.

The Permanent Representative of Italy to the UN Italy called on all partners to contribute to the Facility. “Italy welcomes FAO’s initiative to launch a Mountain Facility as a new funding mechanism, linked to the Mountain Partnership, to address food security crises in mountain regions,” said Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi, who noted that Italy’s foreign policy and development aid, in fact, has traditionally prioritized the most vulnerable: the most fragile societies, but also the most delicate ecosystems.

“As Peruvian history shows, mountain agriculture has significant potential to contribute to improving food security,” said Ambassador Gustavo Meza-Cuadra, Permanent Representative of Peru to the UN, underlining the Andean country’s gastronomic boom as a good example, given its clustering of the food chain to the safeguarding of the cultural and biological diversity that is on its base. He furthered, “Investments and technical support are however needed to diversify and boost mountain production systems through, for example, integrating indigenous knowledge and traditions with modern techniques.”

Emphasizing the need for national governments to “expand their support to rural communities with the support of the UN and development partners,” Ambassador Mirgul Moldoisaeva, Permanent Representative of the Kyrgyz Republic to the UN, recognized the importance of the Mountain Partnership. “Global alliances such as the Mountain Partnership,” she said, “allow us to create an effective global platform for poverty alleviation and food security in support of our national efforts.” She noted the investments in institutional capacity, food security and resilience building being made in the Kyrgyz Republic, where elevations range from 401 to 7 439 metres above sea level.

“We hope that the findings of this study will bring to the fore the need to invest in data and evidence-based research on mountain ecosystems and peoples,” Ambassador Lot Dzonzi, Deputy Permanent Representative of Malawi to the UN, told the gathering of about 80 people, representing various UN Member States, UN agencies and civil society organizations. He urged targeted policies and investments to improve resilience by improving local mountain economies and slowing outmigration, which would allow for mountains to continue providing the ecosystem services that are crucial to everyone.

UNDESA Assistant Secretary-General Thomas Gass explained why the international community must prioritize mountains. “The 2030 Agenda is telling us why – we have promised to leave no one behind, and mountain peoples are among the furthest behind,” he said, recalling that “the transformation to a more sustainable pathway includes mountains”.

Mountain Partnership Ambassador Jake Norton spoke on behalf of mountain peoples around the world, as they are “often marginalized and cut off by geography and politics.” Sharing his personal interactions with mountain dwellers in Africa and Asia, he underscored their resilient natures, robust histories, profound cultures and keen knack for survival in at-times inhospitable environments. ”If we want a healthy earth, we have to have healthy mountains, and to have healthy mountains, we must have healthy mountain communities,” he asserted.

Andrew Taber, The Mountain Institute Director and Mountain Partnership Steering Committee Chair, drew attention to the many grassroots initiatives that are improving mountain peoples’ livelihoods by combining local knowledge with modern science. “The Mountain Partnership is a vehicle for sharing and upscaling these wonderful initiatives,” he said.

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Ambassador of Italy remarks

Ambassador of Kyrgyz Republic remarks

Ambassador of Peru remarks

Dr Andrew Taber remarks

See the photos on Flickr

FAO Liaison Office of New York news story

Inter Press Service news story

Photo: FAO/Sudeshna Chowdhury

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