MP's dialogue highlights sustainable food systems in mountains


The diversity of mountain food systems and the role of mountain people as custodians of knowledge and agrobiodiversity were highlighted in an Independent Dialogue organized by the Mountain Partnership Secretariat to inform the first-ever UN Food Systems Summit. This milestone Summit, which will take place in New York in September 2021, is drawing on the input of people all over the world to identify sustainable solutions for the future of food.

"Maintaining ecosystem health, improving livelihoods and increasing resilience through sustainable food systems in mountains are prerequisites so that mountain people are not left behind and can recover better from the COVID-19 pandemic," said Yuka Makino, Coordinator of the Mountain Partnership Secretariat.

"The vulnerabilities of mountain people, the potential of sustainable mountain food systems as development drivers, and the importance of mountain ecosystem services mean that including mountains in the discussions of the Summit is a requirement – if we want to progress on our path toward achieving the 2030 Agenda," said Andrea Macchioni, Chair of the Mountain Partnership Steering Committee and Coordinator for the Environment, Directorate General for Development Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Italy.

The Dialogue brought together over 100 participants for a lively and constructive discussion on how to make food systems in mountain areas globally safer, stronger and more equitable.

The Dialogue included a diverse array of perspectives from farmers, indigenous groups, youth, science and academia, non-governmental organizations, local and national government officials, members of parliament, United Nations representatives, consumer groups and private foundations.

The primary topics of discussion were on ensuring mountain food systems are based on the continued provision of essential ecosystem services and the conservation of agrobiodiversity; restoring degraded ecosystems for improving food availability to mountain populations; recognizing, promoting and protecting indigenous and traditional knowledge; making value chains for sustainable; strengthening livelihoods and improving mountain people’s quality of life through innovation and technology; and implementing and integrating gender transformative approaches and social protection in mountain food systems.

Participants agreed on a number of ways to strengthen food systems in mountains. These included, among a number of proposed solutions, the following:

  • Protect traditional and indigenous food systems, local knowledge and practices to maintain culture and agrobiodiversity and improve resilience in mountain food systems.
  • Include the impacts of climate change on mountains in policy and create opportunities for climate resilient crops and technology that are specific for mountains.
  • Address land rights and tenure issues through policy and advocacy by bringing everyone to the table.
  • Manage mountain food systems with a landscape perspective, understanding the ecosystem services they provide for upstream and downstream communities to address tradeoffs.
  • Promote specialized mountain products and protect communities through a sustainable value chain approach, narrative labels, traditional production certification and organic certification.
  • Tailor technology and innovations in mountain food systems to all people, including women and youth.
  • Recognize women as holders of agroecological knowledge and agents of agrobiodiversity conservation for food systems. Ensure inclusivity, equality and equity in all processes, decision-making and representation, and develop solutions that take the specific, local context into account.

The Mountain Partnership Secretariat will now submit the outcomes of the Dialogue to the organizers of the UN Food Systems Summit. The information will be used by organizers to feed into the Summit’s five priority Action Tracks, as well as the preparatory work of its Scientific and Advisory Groups, Champions Network and other Summit support structures.

"Food systems are a key pillar of sustainable development in mountains. They have huge potential for contributing to global food security, and there is great opportunity to develop niche markets and export to lowland," said François Pythoud, Special Envoy for International Sustainable Agriculture, Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture. "The contribution of mountain food systems to the provision of globally relevant ecosystem services and goods is why it is important to have this conversation on mountains in the context of the Food Systems Summit."

Update: The official feedback report, based on the outcomes of each breakout room, has been published on the Summit platform. It is now available here. It will feed into the synthesis report for pre-Summit preparations.

To learn more about the Dialogue, visit:

Download the Mountain Partnership's info sheet on sustainable food systems in mountains

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Photo by Vladislav Ushakov

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