FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

FAO supports Kyrgyzstan's shift to more sustainable mountain management

©FAO/Igor Kovalenko

01/02/2024 , Bishkek

Mountain societies are highly vulnerable to the potentially severe impacts of climate change on their livelihoods and well-being.  The remote location, ageing infrastructure, poor access to information and markets and a distinctly continental climate are factors that exacerbate the situation of mountain communities in the Pamir and Tien Shan mountains in Central Asia. Assessing the vulnerability of mountain societies to provide data that can inform communities and government in developing climate change-adaptation strategies is an essential task that requires a thorough understanding of a range of technical and socio-economic parameters.

A four-day national training on mountain vulnerability assessment was conducted in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, from 30 January to 2 February 2024 within the framework of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) project “Sustainable management of natural resources in mountain areas.”

The 20 participants representing the Ministry of Natural Resources, Ecology and Technical Supervision, the Ministry of Water, Agriculture and Processing Industry, and the National Academy of Sciences produced maps and statistics that identified areas of prominent land degradation and critically remote villages. 

“As a high-altitude country, Kyrgyzstan has been experiencing the effects of climate change earlier and more acutely than most,” said Dinara Rakhmanova, Assistant FAO Representative in the Kyrgyz Republic. “Changes in temperatures are leading to changes in precipitation patterns and more frequent peaks in temperature, causing aridity and drought, especially in mountain pastures. Because mountains cover more than 90 percent of the country, it is increasingly important to build resilience to the effects of climate change and to enable the continued sustainable use of natural resources.”

The first part of the training introduced tools and methods to estimate land degradation in compliance with the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)’s Good Practice Guidance SDG Indicator 15.3.1 Proportion of land that is degraded over total land area. The second part of the training assessed levels of physical remoteness to estimate mountain communities' access to facilities and services.  

The information generated will be used in conjunction with other SDG indicators to characterize areas according to a vulnerability scale. This will enable the evaluation of potential and actual environmental and socioeconomic threats. 

“Our objective is to sensitize national institutions to the importance of addressing the needs of the vulnerable mountain communities and to encourage institutions to prepare suitable development plans to support mountain areas’ economies and conserve their environments,” said Fabio Grita, FAO Natural Resources Management and Geospatial Specialist. “The first step to achieving this is to apply an unbiased and scientifically-sound methodology to identify the underlying causes of vulnerability and assess their relevance and intensity at national and district levels. This project provides opportunities to gather national experts from different institutions to review the results of the data analyses and to discuss options for development actions and emergency interventions.”      

The FAO-hosted Mountain Partnership Secretariat works for sustainable management of natural resources in mountain areas and is funded in part by the Government of Italy through the Directorate General for Development Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. The project aims to generate critical information to improve the livelihoods of rural communities through the sustainable management of natural resources with a focus on mountain areas. The countries involved in the project include Afghanistan, Albania, Kyrgyzstan, Montenegro, and Pakistan.

The training was conducted in collaboration with the University of Rome "La Sapienza”, the main implementing partner of the project.