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.

8th International Meeting of Rural Andean Peoples

8th International Meeting of Rural Andean Peoples

event

The eighth International Meeting of Rural Andean Peoples will be held in San Pedro De Atacama, Chile on 12-15 October 2017. Organized by the village of Lickanantay, Red de Agroindustria Rural del Perú (REDAR Perú), the Programme for the Development of Rural Agricultural Production of the Peruvian Ministry...

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Eradicating poverty in mountains

Eradicating poverty in mountains

news

The Russian Academy of Natural Sciences (RANS), a Mountain Partnership member in General Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), contributed a written statement on behalf of the Mountain Partnership to the 2017 ECOSOC Integration Segment on 8-10 May 2017. As the theme of...

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Mountains, one year after the Paris Agreement

Mountains, one year after the Paris Agreement

news

One year ago, on 22 April (Earth Day) 2016, 175 of the 197 Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) gathered at United Nations Headquarters in New York to sign the Paris Agreement, an international treaty to address climate change. As of today, one year after...

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Mountains and Sacred Landscapes

Mountains and Sacred Landscapes

event

The India China Institute (ICI) at The New School, the International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture (ISSRNC), American University’s Center for Latin America and Latino Studies (CLALS) and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) announce an international conference on the theme of mountains...

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Call for papers on shifting cultivation

Call for papers on shifting cultivation

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Work has begun on a new book, focused on “Farmer Innovations and Best Practices by Shifting Cultivators in Asia-Pacific”. The Editor of the forthcoming volume invites those working with or studying shifting cultivation in the Asia-Pacific region to submit papers and supporting photographs documenting and analysing farmer innovations and best...

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March 2017 update on mountain protected areas

March 2017 update on mountain protected areas

news

The 93rd edition of the Mountain Protected Areas Update, the quarterly newsletter of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) Mountains Specialist Group and Network, is now online. Edited by Gillian Anderson, the newsletter summarizes news and events from members...

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