Peru holds brainstorming session with 20 countries to include mountains in Post-2015 development agenda


Diplomats from twenty countries convened at the Permanent Mission of Peru to the United Nations in New York, USA, on 6 February 2014 to discuss how to integrate mountains in the Post-2015 development agenda. Almost all of the countries in attendance belong to the Mountain Partnership and also serve on the UN General Assembly’s Open Working Group tasked with drafting the sustainable development goals.

In the midst of the Open Working Group’s eighth and final ‘stock-taking’ session, the ‘working lunch’ conversation revolved around several documents prepared by the Mountain Partnership Secretariat (MPS), who, alongside the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), provided support for the lunch-hour meeting. Highlighting the recognition of mountains in past UN sustainable development conferences as well as the benefits for human livelihoods derived from mountain regions, MPS Coordinator Thomas Hofer presented a short narrative text and other materials that Member States could modify and use. He handed out a series of policy briefs, created with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and other partners, calling for mountains to be included in the SDGs. Hofer also shared a matrix with suggestions for mountain targets in selected goals that have been proposed by the UN General Assembly Regional Group of African Countries, UN Global Compact, Sustainable Development Solutions Network and the UN High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

Over quinoa from the Andes, ambassadors and staff members exchanged ideas and experiences, such as promoting ecotourism as a tool to improve mountain community revenues as Morocco has undertaken and empowering the socially and economically disadvantaged mountain peoples as suggested by Italy and Sri Lanka. Environment-focused proposals came from Guatemala and Colombia, who wish to see the good management of life-support ecosystems.

The Permanent Representative of Peru, Ambassador Gustavo Meza-Cuadra highlighted the importance of having targets that can best be mainstreamed in the SDGs in an integrative manner. In this regard, he mentioned that the purpose of the working lunch was to start that thinking and, if at all possible, to come up with a number of targets that can be supported by the group during the next phase of the Open Working Group on SDGs.

Ambassador Csaba Körösi of Hungary sparked a discussion on universality, which led to the conclusion that although mountains cover 25 percent of the earth’s land surface, they have universal importance because of the essential goods and services – such as water, biodiversity and energy -  they provide to all humanity.

Hofer summed up the consensus drawn at the meeting when, at its conclusion, he said, “Defining the SDGs is a country-driven process. We only advocate that mountain ecosystems and their importance to people are not neglected.”

The meeting hosted by Peru saw the collaboration of the three UN agencies mandated by Rio+20 – FAO, UNEP and UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) – to support UN Member States in strengthening their sustainable mountain development efforts, as specified in ‘The Future We Want’.

List of participants
Flickr photogallery

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