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

 

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...

Download »
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 »

World Mountain Forum 2018

World Mountain Forum 2018

event

Under the theme “Mountains in a changing world: strengthening partnership and pathways towards a thriving mountain future”, the fourth World Mountain Forum will be held on 23–26 October 2018, in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, hosted by the Government of Kyrgyzstan with support from the Government of Switzerland, the...

Read more »
#MountainsMatter Photo Contest

#MountainsMatter Photo Contest

news

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has launched a #MountainsMatter Photo Contest in celebration of International Mountain Day that is observed every year on 11 December 2018. Participants from around the world are encouraged to submit photos showing why mountains matter to them. Approximately 13 percent of the world’s population...

Read more »
Call for papers, mountain research and development

Call for papers, mountain research and development

news

Mountain Research and Development (MRD) are pleased to announce the call for papers on the role of culture in transformation towards sustainable development in mountains. Mountain communities are undergoing rapid sociocultural change, caused by drivers such as outmigration, urbanization, and increasing insertion into the market economy. Mountain cultural heritage...

Read more »
Mountain Access Seminar in Chile

Mountain Access Seminar in Chile

news

The Government of Chile, the national committee for mountains in Chile with the support of the UN Environment, GEF project biological mountain corridors hosted the Seminario Acceso a las Montañas “Mountain Access Seminar”, on 3 August 2018. The Andes stretch along the eastern border of Chile; mountains are...

Read more »
Home > mountain-partnership > Our work > Indigenous People