Indigenous peoples


The involvement of indigenous and traditional mountain communities is a prerequisite for sustainable mountain development. The culture of indigenous and traditional mountain communities is predominantly agrarian, shaped by harsh climates and rough terrain as well as the seasonal rhythms of planting, harvesting and transhumance.

For these peoples, land, water and forests are not simply natural resources to be used. As their ancestors before them, these communities understand that their well-being, their sense of 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 and traditional mountain farmers 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.

Therefore, traditional mountain communities serve as custodians of traditional knowledge on how to farm in difficult mountainous conditions and of important reservoirs of agricultural biodiversity. It is important to recognize in indigenous mountain communities that men and women have different areas of knowledge, experience and responsibility that contribute to preserving biodiversity.

The nutritional value of local foods is not determined simply by the different types of local crops, but by the way herbs and spices, the oils, meat, vegetables and condiments are combined and cooked (almost exclusively by women). This traditional cuisine, along with the knowledge and skills required to prepare it, represents another vital aspect of the intangible cultural heritage of mountain peoples. Unfortunately indigenous mountain food systems are at risk. Indigenous foods, stigmatized as ‘foods of the poor’, are often abandoned in favour of modern foods that are more convenient to cook but often contain high levels of sugar and fat and have relatively low nutritional value. This phenomenon compounds the problem of the relatively high rates of iodine and vitamin A micronutrient deficiencies found in impoverished mountain communities.

With climate change scenarios strongly suggesting that extreme weather events are likely to become 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 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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The Indigenous Mountain Peoples Database is live!

The Indigenous Mountain Peoples Database is live!

news

The Mountain Partnership Secretariat (MPS) in close collaboration with the Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment (GMBA) has developed a database and an interactive map which connects indigenous mountain communities and the mountain range they inhabit.

The scope of this project is to raise awareness about indigenous mountain peoples...

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Highlighting indigenous mountain food systems

Highlighting indigenous mountain food systems

news

Discussing what is needed to maintain indigenous food systems in mountain areas was the primary focus of a session held during the High-Level Expert Seminar on Indigenous Food Systems. The seminar was hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, Italy from 7-9 November 2018.

 The Mountain Partnership Secretariat Coordinator,...

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Raising awareness of protected mountain areas

Raising awareness of protected mountain areas

news

The future of Indigenous and Community Conserved areas (ICCAs) was discussed by a variety of stakeholders including community members, NGOs, donor organizations and academics at the ICCA Consortium in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan from 29-31 October 2018. The Mountain Societies Research Institute of the University of Central Asia (MSRI/UCA) and the...

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Leaving No One in Mountains Behind

Leaving No One in Mountains Behind

publication

The MRI and the Center for Development and Environment (CDE) present initial steps towards localization of the 2030 Agenda to mountain areas. To support this localization process, expert assessments were were conducted in Nepal, Uganda, Kyrgyzstan, Ecuador, and Switzerland based on the following questions: What SDG targets have a high priority in...

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The World Mountain Forum

The World Mountain Forum

news

The fourth World Mountain Forum (WMF 2018) took place from 23-26 October 2018, in Bishkek, the Kyrgyz Republic. Approximately 300 participants attended the meeting, which addressed the overarching theme, ‘Mountains in a Changing World: Strengthening Partnerships and Pathways Towards a Thriving Mountain Future.’ WMF 2018 was co-organized by the Read more »

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