Indigenous peoples and local communities

The involvement of indigenous peoples and local communities is a prerequisite for sustainable mountain development. The traditional knowledge and food production systems of indigenous and traditional mountain communities provide important lessons on how to adapt to climate change, and are a reflection of value systems that place ecosystem preservation at the centre of their belief systems.

For indigenous peoples and local communities living in mountain areas, land, water and forests are not simply natural resources to be used. As their ancestors before them, today’s mountain dwellers understand that their well-being, their group identity and their children’s future depend on the careful stewardship of the environment. This ‘intangible heritage’ also enriches the global community, providing inspiration and insights for realizing a more sustainable relationship between humankind and the environment.

Mountain peoples cultivate a wide variety of crops that are adapted to a range of different elevations, slope conditions and microclimates. Moreover, indigenous local farmers in mountains around the world have explicitly designed their agricultural systems to protect the soil from erosion, conserve water resources and reduce the risks of disasters triggered by natural hazards. These agricultural systems contribute to the protection of ecosystems, with tangible benefits also for communities downstream. In fact, it is widely recognized that while indigenous peoples only make up 5% of the world’s population, they are considered custodians of as much as 80% of the world’s biodiversity.

Therefore, mountain-dwelling indigenous peoples and local communities serve as custodians of traditional knowledge and biodiversity, including agro biodiversity. It is important to recognize in indigenous mountain communities that men and women often have different areas of knowledge, experience and responsibility that contribute to preserving biodiversity, therefore special attention should be given to the knowledge and contributions of indigenous women.

Despite the demonstrated importance of indigenous food systems and the broader set of cultural practices from which they derive, these are in danger of being transformed beyond recognition by the demographic, economic and environmental changes underway in mountain areas today. Many indigenous mountain peoples are losing their lands as a result of phenomena such as encroachment, forced displacement, rural-to-urban migration and soil degradation. Indigenous foods, stigmatized as ‘foods of the poor’, are often abandoned in favour of non-local foods that may be more readily available or convenient to cook but often contain high levels of sugar and fat and have relatively low nutritional value. This phenomenon compounds the problem of relatively high rates of iodine and vitamin A micronutrient deficiencies found in impoverished mountain communities.

With climate change scenarios strongly suggesting that if current trends continue, extreme weather events are likely to become ever more common and more intense in mountain areas, it is necessary integrate indigenous agricultural systems and their historical perspectives on climate variability as key-tools in climate change adaptation strategies. The Mountain Partnership advocates for global attention and tangible commitments from the international community to achieving sustainable mountain development. This includes the inclusion of indigenous knowledge in responding to climate change adaptation, as stipulated by the UNFCCC COP21 Paris Agreement, and the right of indigenous peoples to their land, territories and resources, as stipulated by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Indigenous Mountain Peoples Map

 

 International Mountain Day 2019 Einaudi concert in Milan

International Mountain Day 2019 Einaudi concert in Milan

peak to peak

The December 2019 issue of Peak to Peak highlights International Mountain Day, held every year on 11 December. The newsletter includes an announcement of the Einaudi concert to be held in Milan to celebrate this year's IMD. The newsletter continues with the Members' Voices section, this month featuring a college...

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WMO Summit identifies priority action for high mountains

WMO Summit identifies priority action for high mountains

peak to peak

The November 2019 issue of Peak to Peak begins with an overview of the WMO High Mountain Summit, which concluded with the adoption of a Call for Action on High Mountain Weather, Climate and Water, and a roadmap of priority activities. The newsletter continues with the Members' Voices section, this...

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Creating a Global Mountain Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) Workshop concept note

publication

This document is a concept note for the Creating a Global Mountain Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) Workshop in Ranikhet, Uttarakhand, India in April 2019.

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An introduction to Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS): Presentation by IFOAM-OI

publication

This presentation about PGS was prepared and presented by Federica Varini, IFOAM-OI.

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Linking mountain farm gates to markets: Presentation by Carlo Murer

publication

This presentation about marketing mountain products was prepared and presented by Carlo Murer.

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Celebrating best practice: Expo 2020 selects 25 development projects providing tangible solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges

publication

This press release, issued by Expo 2020 Dubai, announces the 25 chosen Global Best Practice Programme projects, including the Mountain Partnership Products (MPP) Initiative.

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