Mountains and the decade of action and delivery: MP HLPF 2020 side event


Presented by the Government of Malawi, with the Mountain Partnership, and the Governments of Argentina, Kyrgyzstan, Italy and Switzerland

Held on the sidelines of the 2020 High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), this virtual event highlighted the crucial role of mountain communities in advancing the UN Decade of Action 2020-2030 and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly in light of the impacts of COVID-19. The event provided the opportunity to identify strategies, promote actions and build commitments to support sustainable mountain agriculture, biodiversity and livelihoods.

The Mountain Partnership, a UN voluntary alliance of governments, intergovernmental organizations, civil society and the private sector, has endorsed a Framework for Action to increase and coordinate efforts of its members towards implementation of the 2030 Agenda. The Partnership’s Secretariat is hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO).

Opening the event, Macpherson Nthara, Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, Malawi, emphasized the need to establish long-term processes and policies that strengthen the resilience of mountain peoples and environments. He welcomed support for the proposal for an International Year of Mountains in 2022.

Carla Mucavi, Director, FAO Liaison Office in New York, discussed the ways in which mountains help achieve the SDGs by providing biodiversity, food, water and clean energy to all. She considered the amplification of challenges posed by the pandemic in mountain regions, calling for supportive policies, investments, and actions to build resilience and achieve zero hunger.

Silvia Vázquez, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Argentina, shared her country’s efforts to mitigate impacts adversely affecting mountain regions, specifically for indigenous communities.

Gobinda Bahadur Shahi, Director, Karnali Integrated Rural Development and Research Centre, linking the impacts of COVID-19 on food security, urged every country to develop its own food security strategy. He shared examples of Nepal’s digital marketing initiatives, such as “agriculture-ambulance” services providing “door-to-door” direct relationships in the supply chain. He called on local governments to incentivize the use of locally available seeds, transfer of agricultural technologies and expansion of self-sufficiency measures such as home gardens and roof farming.

Mirgul Moldoisaeva, Permanent Representative of Kyrgyzstan to the UN, recognizing the impacts from COVID-19, identified opportunities to “build back better” through digital technologies. She announced a forthcoming draft UN resolution to be tabled by Kyrgyzstan during the 75th session of the UN General Assembly. She said the proposed resolution aims to promote cross-border cooperation, progressing on existing principles of mountain sustainable development.

Laura Sommer, Deputy Head, International Affairs and Food Security, Federal Office for Agriculture, Switzerland, pointed to sustainable food systems as a prerequisite for sustainable mountain development. Explaining no “one size fits all” solution exists, she endorsed site-adapted management practices. Sommer concluded that policies become actions when governments, international organizations and the private sector unlock investments.

María Argüello, Executive Director, Consortium for Sustainable Development of the Andean Ecoregion, shared regional successes in the face of COVID-19 through innovative approaches. She highlighted, in particular, the role of youth in utilizing communications tools to facilitate direct relationships between producers and consumers. She underscored the need for technical assistance in the region to continue to promote nature-based solutions with multi-stakeholder participation.

Yuka Makino, Coordinator, Mountain Partnership Secretariat, said the COVID-19 crisis has revealed the value of partnerships. She explained they enable joining forces for a common goal, building on diverse strengths, working at scale, and strengthening the message that “mountains are vital for our lives.” She announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Mountain Partnership and NaturaSì, an Italian organic food company, to improve the agricultural value chain globally by helping local, small-scale producers access markets.

During ensuing discussions, participants:

  • reiterated the need for a holistic approach to sustainable development;
  • underscored the value of mountain biodiversity to the world;and
  • highlighted the importance of addressing the needs of disabled and vulnerable populations within mountain regions.


In conclusion, Moderator Andrea Macchioni, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Italy, and Chair, Mountain Partnership Steering Committee, highlighted, inter alia: support for 2022 as the International Year of Mountains; the need to continue multi-stakeholder partnerships; acknowledgement of the nexus of land tenure and access to resources; and the role of new technologies to “build back better.”

Over 130 participants attended the virtual discussions on 9 July 2020.

Listen to audio clips, watch video excerpts and view more photos

Reporting and photo by IISD

Home > mountain-partnership > News