Pre-Expo Dubai series highlights mountain products


The Pre-Expo Dubai programme series highlights the Mountain Partnership Products (MPP) Initiative during Climate and Biodiversity Week.

Selected as one of 25 Best Practices out of 1 175 from around the world, the MPP Initiative will be spotlighted at Expo Dubai. While the official Expo has been postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19, the online pre-programme series offers a preview of the diverse exhibition and conversations that will be brought to life next year.

In a segment titled "Expo Family Talks," Giorgio Grussu, Project Coordinator of the MPP Initiative at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, was invited to present alongside speakers from the Government of Chile, Government of United Kingdom, European Commission, Global Youth Biodiversity Network, Planet-Public Partnerships and other impressive guests.

Funded by the Italian Development Cooperation, the MPP Initiative has developed a labelling scheme for ethical, fair and organic mountain products, and created the first international network of Participatory Guarantee Systems for small mountain producers from developing countries.

As part of its scheme, the MPP initiative supports smallholder farmers in mountains to create enterprises, enhance their marketing skills and boost their livelihoods by improving the value chains of mountain products such as organic food, textiles and tourism services. It promotes short value chains and ensures transparency and trust between producers and consumers as well as fair compensation for the farmers, conservation of agrobiodiversity and ancient techniques.

"We are coming to Expo next year to showcase our mountain products with a dedicated exhibition, conference and hopefully a dinner with mountain products," says Grussu. "We hope all our activities there will show to the wide public why mountains matter in moving the world towards sustainable growth and why mountain peoples are so relevant in adapting to global changes – including climate change and biodiversity loss – and providing solutions."

In partnership with Slow Food, IFOAM Organics International, and Naturasi, the MPP Initiative is able to provide technical and marketing support to often marginalized mountain communities. So far, 10 000 farmers - of which 6 000 are women - have benefited from this initiative and the labelling scheme has, in some cases, contributed to an increase in the selling price of 25 percent and an increase in production of 40 percent in only two years.

Grussu hopes the experience of participating in Expo will help to expand the MPP initiative: "With the current funding, we can only assist a very limited number of farmer groups, in comparison to the requests of assistance that we keep receiving. The project needs to grow and expand, therefore we are looking for new partners, also from the private sector."

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