Mountains and the 2030 Agenda – COP22


Organized within the framework of the Mountain Partnership, the official side event “Mapping and understanding mountains to achieve the 2030 Agenda” was held on 11 November 2016 at the 22nd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP22). The session focused on assessing the wellbeing of mountain communities and ecosystems globally in the context of climate change, and reviewing ways to measure progress.

Moderator Simon Rietbergen, Senior Forestry Officer, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), opened the side event by stressing how the impacts of climate change on mountain environments affect everyone because of the essential ecosystem goods and services that mountains provide to upland mountain communities and lowland cities. He explained that food security in mountain areas has decreased over the last decade, with one in three mountain people currently vulnerable to food insecurity.

Andrew Taber, Executive Director, The Mountain Institute, underlined how mountains have an important economic role in tourism, mining and forestry, provide 60-80 percent of global freshwater and host a quarter of global terrestrial biodiversity. He noted mountains are recognized in 48 Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) and three targets under two Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Stressing that even though 40 percent of people vulnerable to food insecurity live in mountains and that mountains are not mentioned in SDG 2 (zero hunger), he recommended specifically assessing the role of mountains across all the SDGs.

Tilman Hertz, International Climate Initiative, followed Taber’s presentation underscoring the importance of ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA). He said EbA is a no-regrets measure that delivers many benefits, and is mentioned in 100 NDCs. He described EbA approaches in Chile to reduce avalanches, and in Nepal to reduce erosion rates near roads. He noted that eco-safe roads become cost effective in 12 years due to reduced maintenance costs.

Faya Ahmed, Guinea, noted climate change impacts in Guinea’s mountains, including disruptions in rainfall patterns and spread of diseases such as malaria. Ahmed stressed that those impacts are worsened by certain practices, such as unsustainable farming and forestry, and by the lack of local health services. He called for the urgent reduction of mountain peoples’ poverty in order to strengthen their resilience to climate change by teaching mountain farmers sustainable cultivation techniques and certifying their mountain products.

Eric Chavez Betancourt, President, Asociacion Oikos (OIKOS), presented on the case of vicuñas in Peru for ecosystem conservation, poverty reduction, development, adaptation and mitigation. He highlighted how, brought back from the brink of extinction, vicuñas provide an opportunity for lifting one million people in Peru out of poverty. Additionally, he noted that protecting vicuñas’ natural habitats, grasslands and wetlands provides key ecosystem services, such as water provision and carbon fixation. He called for Reduced Emissions from Avoided Degradation (READ) to be considered alongside REDD+.

The final speaker Charles Nyandiga, Small Grants Programme of the United Nations Development Programme and the Global Environment Facility (UNDP/GEF), underscored the central role of local communities in mountain conservation and adaptation strategies. He described examples of traditional crop usage to reverse agriculture degradation, agroforestry practices to reduce flooding and landslides, water management strategies to reduce water scarcity and ecosystem degradation, and ridge-to-reef strategies in Small Island Developing States (SIDS). He stressed that adopting improved energy cooking systems can significantly reduce pressure on mountain ecosystems.

In the discussion that followed the speakers’ presentations, participants considered the importance of both EbA and community-based approaches.

This event was convened by the Government of Guinea and NGO OIKOS and co-organized by the Mountain Partnership Secretariat.

See event programme 

See flickr album 

News adapted from article by IISD Reporting Services, through its ENBOTS Meeting Coverage - see original

Photo: The Mountain Institute

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