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

 

Peak to Peak - July 2019

Peak to Peak - July 2019

peak to peak

Issue 128 - Month 7 - Year 2019

The newly designed July 2019 issue of Peak to Peak begins with survey results of members offering their feedback on their experiences with the MP. Part of the updated newsletter is a new section titled Members' Voices which showcases one member and their...

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Innovation for mountains

Innovation for mountains

peak to peak

Issue 127 – Month 6 – Year 2019

The June 2019 issue of Peak to Peak starts by discussing Innovation for mountains in Baku, Azerbaijan. The newsletter continues with stories about calls for engagement and building partnerships for mountains. 

Peak to Peak provides a sampling of Mountain Partnership members’ activities and events...

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Migration and Sustainable Mountain Development: Turning Challenges into Opportunities

Migration and Sustainable Mountain Development: Turning Challenges into Opportunities

publication

This issue is part of the Sustainable Mountain Development Series published by Mountain Research and Development, the leading international scientific journal specifically devoted to sustainable development in the world’s mountains. This edition of the publication concerns rural populations' migrations: its challenges and complexities, and how to implement policies.

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IMD celebrated in over 35 countries in 2018

IMD celebrated in over 35 countries in 2018

peak to peak

The February 2019 issue of Peak to Peak starts by discussing IMD 2018 celebrations that took place in over 35 countries. The newsletter continues with stories about revitalizing mountains through agriculture and tourism, and exploring mountain food systems. 

Peak to Peak provides a sampling of Mountain Partnership members’ activities and events...

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Indigenous mountain youth spotlight - Jessica Vega

Indigenous mountain youth spotlight - Jessica Vega

news

An interview with Jessica Vega 

1. Please introduce yourself and the work you are doing for the Latin American Indigenous Youth Network and the Global Indigenous Youth Caucus. 

The Latin American Indigenous Youth Network (Red de Jóvenes indígena de América Latina) is composed of collectives and grassroots organisations promoting human rights...

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The Suusamyr Declaration

publication

The future of mountain indigenous peoples depends above all on the maintenance of the sacred relationship between our cultures and water, air, plants, pastures, animals, mountains, and respect for the wisdom of our elders and the sacred position of women.

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