International Year of Mountains closing ceremony starts a new era for action


Celebrations of the International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development 2022 officially concluded on Wednesday, 26 April 2023 with a ceremony at the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The event featured high-level guests, followed by voices of Mountain Partnership (MP) members in the field, and ended with a concert of mountain music.

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) declared 2022 as the International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development by resolution at the proposal of the Government of Kyrgyzstan. The Mountain Partnership Secretariat (MPS) at FAO facilitated the observance of the Year, including organizing the online opening ceremony on 28 April 2022, which saw the participation of many high-level officials. It further supported the organization of over 60 events, developed a global communication campaign and logo, and established and coordinated an Open-ended Scientific Committee that produced several policy briefs to support the policy-science dialogue for sustainable mountain development.

One of the main outcomes of the International Year was the UNGA resolution that proclaimed "Five Years of Action for the Development of Mountain Regions" between 2023 and 2027.

Moderated by Zhimin Wu, Director of the FAO Forestry Division, the ceremony kicked off with a video message from UN Secretary-General António Guterres. He thanked the Mountain Partnership for its support throughout the year and expressed looking forward to continued UN support for sustainable mountain development, led by FAO.

Director-General QU Dongyu affirmed FAO's commitment to the mountain agenda in its capacity as lead agency for mountains within the UN system. He noted the importance of mountains as opportunities for providing solutions for our sustainable future and the need for increased research to better understand and support these fragile ecosystems.

In a video message, Zheenbek Kulubaev, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kyrgyzstan, underlined the difficulties faced by mountain countries and stated that solving mountain problems is the responsibility of the global community because of the important benefits they provide us all.

Asein Isaev, First Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kyrgyzstan, followed the Minister's intervention, calling on the international community to make active efforts to jointly develop a global action plan for the practical implementation of the Five Years of Actions for the Development of Mountain Regions.

Maria Ubach, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Andorra, announced that the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will present the proposal for the inclusion of an agenda item on mountains in the plenary of the next Conference of the Parties at the 58th meeting of the Subsidiary Bodies in June in Bonn, thanks to the the initiative of the Andorran Government.

Next, Zoritsa Urosevic, Executive Director, World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), underlined that tourism is an economic lifeline for many communities in mountain regions. She launched a report published by FAO, UNWTO and the MPS on sustainable mountain tourism's potential to boost the incomes of local communities and help preserve their natural resources and culture. The publication seeks to address data and knowledge gaps in order to reach a better understanding of the way forward.

Quoting Italian alpinist Walter Bonatti, Bruno Archi, Permanent Representative of Italy to FAO, called for long-term vision, holistic approaches and mountain-specific policies to end poverty, address food insecurity, promote the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and fight against social exclusion, environmental degradation and disaster risk in mountain areas.

Julio Eduardo Martinetti Macedo, Permanent Representative of Peru to FAO, reaffirmed his country's commitment to the mountain agenda and announced that the Andean Mountain Initiative, under the regional coordination of Peru, has made important progress toward approving its 2022-2026 action plan.

Tim Kränzlein, Deputy Permanent Representative of Switzerland to FAO, stressed the importance of mountain food systems and the need to promote them toward sustainability. He highlighted the upcoming UN Food Systems Stocktaking Moment as an opportunity to build on the momentum of the International Year to spark action in mountains.

Voices from the field

The high-level segment was followed by the words of MP members across the world, sharing their experiences and ideas for the future.

Ada Rasulova, co-founder of the Topchu art group in Kyrgyzstan, was joined by fellow artisans Meerim Mambetakunova and Aida Urkumbaeva. Discussing the impacts of a project with fashion designer Stella Jean together with the MP and the FAO Women's Committee, she shared how the collaboration has boosted the women's economic autonomy, empowering them to defend their rights and opportunities.

Patricia Breuer Moreno, co-founder of Mujeres a la Cumbre in Chile and of the Mountain Women of the World network, presented some of the findings of the network's social research project, done in collaboration with the MP, to identify the main challenges faced by mountain women and collective power especially in the context of COVID-19. She urged for all parties involved in the local development of mountain environments to prioritize a sustainable, community-led approach, supporting the collective leadership of mountain women.

Before the session ended, in her closing remarks, FAO Deputy Director-General Maria Helena Semedo urged participants to build on the momentum generated by the International Year to continue working for mountains and mountain peoples.

Closing the ceremony on a high note, the Italy-based musical groups Dostuk from Kyrgyzstan and Grupo Los Alvarez from Peru played a concert of mountain music, performing traditional songs and dances from their mountainous home countries.

Watch the webcast
View the photo gallery
Download the publication
Read the press release
See the Mountain Women of the World video
Learn more about the International year of Sustainable Mountain Development 2022

Photo: ©FAO/Giulio Napolitano

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