The World Mountain Forum


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 University of Central Asia (UCA) and the government of the Kyrgyz Republic, under the auspices of the Sustainable Mountain Development for Global Change Programme of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

With the overall objective of advancing the sustainable mountain development (SMD) agenda, discussions over the three days were organized around plenary sessions, parallel thematic tracks, poster presentations and featured focus events. The thematic discussions on the first two days addressed three overarching topics: current trends and dynamics; pathways towards a sustainable mountain future; and partnerships and alliances to advance SMD. On the final day, participants reviewed and consolidated messages for inclusion in the conference outcome document titled ‘A Call for Mountains,’ and convened in sessions exploring innovative partnerships and best practices in mobilization and financing for SMD.

The Forum was preceded by the Youth Mountain Forum, held on 22 October 2018, that brought together students and young professionals interested in climate change and SMD to serve as Youth Ambassadors during WMF 2018.

"The Plenary Expert Panel: Mountains in a Changing World" took place on Tuesday, 23 October, and was moderated by Carolina Adler, Mountain Research Initiative (MRI). Four keynote speakers introduced each of the themes to be addressed at WMF 2018.

Philippus Wester, International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), introduced the ‘Climate Change Affecting Water and Energy in Mountain Areas’ thematic track and presented the results of an assessment of the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) region. Explaining that the study was driven by concern about gaps in the 2007 and 2015 global assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), he highlighted, among key findings: projected losses of at least 30% of glacier mass under a 1.5 degree warming scenario; a doubling of flood magnitude by the end of the century; and the need for sustainable solutions to benefit the 80% of the population that lack access to clean energy.

Musonda Mumba, The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), introduced the thematic track on ‘Poverty, Food Systems and Agrobiodiversity.’ She presented a video on the ‘Vanishing Treasures’ initiative sponsored by the Government of Luxembourg that targets ecosystems that are home to three iconic species; the mountain gorilla, Bengal tiger, and snow leopard. She explained that the project seeks to understand the adaptive capacity of these species and ecosystems with local community participation to reduce human-wildlife conflicts that threaten their survival.

Yuka Makino, Coordinator, Mountain Partnership Secretariat, introduced the ‘Resilience and Transformation in Mountain Communities and Ecosystems’ thematic track. She stressed the need for targeted investments; sustainable production and diversification of food systems; strengthening skills and value chains, and further development of a resource mobilization strategy, including through the Mountain Facility.

Matt Reed, Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) introduced the thematic track on ‘Investing in Mountains – Securing the Future.’ He shared the Foundation’s experience in investing in mountain regions. He emphasized the need to make long-term investments and extend time horizons for success. Reed also called for an investment focus on critical infrastructure, such as irrigation and roads, that would help underpin broader development efforts. He proposed prioritizing initiatives around education, job creation and institutional development, and noted the value of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN)’s work with local and regional partners.

In the ensuing discussion, participants highlighted a number of success factors in SMD projects, including: promoting interdisciplinary thinking on mountain assessment; tackling trade-offs between conservation efforts and ensuring food security; harnessing the social and ecosystem resilience of mountain communities; carrying out due diligence before projects are implemented; tailoring early warning systems for mountains; and expanding market access for mountain communities.

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News by IISD

Photo by UCA/Alma Uzbekova

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