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

 

Mountain Homestays conducts transformative tourism workshops for Bhil Community of Madhya Pradesh

Mountain Homestays conducts transformative tourism workshops for Bhil Community of Madhya Pradesh

news

The Mountain Homestays team recently travelled to nine villages in Madhya Pradesh, India to conduct three-day workshops on homestay operations. Their objective was community empowerment and engagement that would lead farmers to gain an additional source of income from tourism.

After over a decade of working with communities in...

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IMD 2021 to focus on sustainable mountain tourism

IMD 2021 to focus on sustainable mountain tourism

peak to peak

The March 2021 issue of Peak to Peak announces this year's International Mountain Day theme of sustainable mountain tourism. This month, the 'Members' Voices' section highlights the story of a Mountain Partnership Product, Ulikan red rice, which is grown in the Philippine Cordillera. Top news stories from March focus on trainings for implementing...

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Red, the colour of prosperity for indigenous Ulikan rice farmers in the Philippines

Red, the colour of prosperity for indigenous Ulikan rice farmers in the Philippines

news

It is 6.00 in the Pasil River Valley of Kalinga Province in the Philippine Cordillera. Lucious green mountains dotted with rice fields extend as far as the eye can see. Lita Caniw, 72, is headed to work at her six parcels of land in the Fummag Rice Terraces. Throughout her...

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Mountain Partnership Governance and Strategy (2018-2021)

Mountain Partnership Governance and Strategy (2018-2021)

publication

This document presents the Mountain Partnership strategy and governance for the period 2018 to 2021.

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How to better include mountain areas in the next programming period? A step-by-step factsheet for managing authorities

How to better include mountain areas in the next programming period? A step-by-step factsheet for managing authorities

publication

Euromontana has created a timely factsheet to better consider mountain areas’ specificities and needs to address the challenges faced by managing authorities of mountain communities. Available in English and French, the factsheet gives recommendations on all steps of the design and implementation of operational programmes for mountain areas.

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Elevating Mountains in the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework

Elevating Mountains in the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework

publication

With the Aichi Biodiversity Targets coming to an end in 2020, the world is preparing for a new set of ambitious biodiversity targets and goals to follow. This brief, prepared for the second Open-Ended Working Group meeting on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework in February 2020, highlights how mountains are...

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