Twenty-three governments plan efforts to include mountains in the Post-2015 development agenda


The Mountain Focus Group, a group of countries committed to sustainable mountain development, strategized on ways to include mountain-related issues in the Post-2015 development agenda on 17 October 2013. Gathered at the Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations (UN) in New York, 23 governments planned to take actions, such as holding side-events and disseminating policy briefs, to draw attention to mountain communities and environments during the Open Working Group sessions on the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Many of the nearly 40 participants, which also included representatives of US-based Major Groups, intergovernmental agencies, academic institutions and civil society, belong to the Mountain Partnership (MP), a UN alliance established in 2002 to promote the health of mountainous regions and their inhabitants.

“In 2015, we have to be ready with a new agenda and a new plan for preserving the planet and its resources for future generations. With this in mind, and very much aware that mountains must be at the forefront of the development architecture, we must work together at the international, regional and community level,” said Ambassador of Italy to the UN Sebastiano Cardi, host and chair of the meeting.

 “Mountains supply more than half of humanity with water and are vast reservoirs for food, energy, and biodiversity, said Ambassador Talaibek Kydyrov of Kyrgyzstan, who, together with Ambassador Gustavo Meza-Cuadra of Peru, is proposing a resolution on Sustainable Mountain Development (SMD) to the UN General Assembly this year.

Efforts to include mountains in the SDGs must be made for many reasons, said Mia Rowan, Communication Officer of the Mountain Partnership Secretariat, co-organizer of the meeting. She explained that mountains have been included in the outcome documents of past world conferences on sustainable development, including three paragraphs in “The Future We Want,” but are not currently on the OWG agenda.

While representatives of Austria, Romania, Slovakia and Switzerland expressed their hope to see mountains ‘mainstreamed’ across the SDGs on topics such as water, climate change and energy, participants also discussed the merits of a stand-alone goal.  Andrew Taber, Executive Director of the Mountain Institute, pointed out that a specific goal could be proposed since mountain communities are often overlooked due to their extreme levels of poverty and remoteness.

Participants planned to advocate for the inclusion of mountains in their regional group meetings and during other consultations, in addition to the OWG sessions. SMD organizations intend to partake in the OWG sessions dedicated to dialogue with Major Groups.  

The Mountain Focus Group agreed that goals, targets and indicators to measure progress will be needed for mountains in the SDG process. Other proposals included forming a task force to meet regularly, inviting mountain community representatives to the OWG side-events and creating an award for SMD research or activities.

The 30-member OWG will hold four more sessions prior to submitting a draft of the SDGs to the UN General Assembly in September 2014. The SDGs will succeed the Millennium Development Goals when they come to term at the end of 2014.

Some of the topics pertinent to mountains yet to be discussed by the OWG are: sustained and inclusive economic growth and energy in late November 2013; the needs of countries in special situations in mid December 2013;  climate change and disaster risk reduction in early January 2014 and forests, biodiversity and promoting equality in early February 2014.

Major Groups can join the UN Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform and submit their proposals to the Sustainable Development Goals e-Inventory.

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