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.

United Nations General Assembly Resolution: Sustainable Mountain Development (2010)

United Nations General Assembly Resolution: Sustainable Mountain Development (2010)

publication

Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on Sustainable mountain development at the 64th Session. A/RES/64/205

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United Nations General Assembly Resolution: Sustainable Mountain Development (2008)

United Nations General Assembly Resolution: Sustainable Mountain Development (2008)

publication

Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on Sustainable mountain development at the 60th Session. A/RES/62/196

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United Nations General Assembly Resolution: Sustainable Mountain Development (2006)

United Nations General Assembly Resolution: Sustainable Mountain Development (2006)

publication

Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on Sustainable mountain development at the 60th Session. A/RES/60/198

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United Nations General Assembly Resolution: Rendering assistance to poor mountain countries to overcome obstacles in socio-economic and ecological areas (2005)

publication

Resolution adopted by the General Assembly at the 59th Session.
A/RES/59/238

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United Nations General Assembly Resolution: Sustainable Development in Mountain Regions (2004)

United Nations General Assembly Resolution: Sustainable Development in Mountain Regions (2004)

publication

Resolution adopted by the General Assembly at the 58th Session: Sustainable development in mountain regions. A/RES/58/216

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Quito Declaration Charter for World Mountain People (2003)

Quito Declaration Charter for World Mountain People (2003)

publication

The representatives of Mountain Territories from forty countries met on 20 September 2002 in Quito (Ecuador) taking into account the declarations issued at preparatory meetings of Achocalla (August 2002, Bolivia) and Yuksam (April 2002, India), adopted the main points of the following declaration during the 2nd World Meeting of Mountain...

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