Third Mountain Futures Conference forges sustainable solutions in Kunming, China


Over 200 participants from 20 countries worldwide convened on 16–18 April 2023 for the Third Mountains Future Conference: Mountain Communities in the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework in Kunming, Yunnan Province, China. Launched to support the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, the conference revolved around four main themes: Scientific Exploration, Ecological Restoration, Indigenous Wisdom and Future Living. A range of plenary and parallel sessions, workshops and exhibitions were organized to highlight innovative sustainable development in mountain regions.

The conference opened with a series of high-level interventions from Elizabeth Murema, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD); QU Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); Sara Manuelli, Advocacy and Outreach Officer of the Mountain Partnership Secretariat, Xiaojun Grace Wang, Trust Fund Director of the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation; and Zhang Linxiu, Director of the UNEP International Ecosystem Management Partnership (IEMP).

Researchers, policymakers and practitioners joined together to discuss the most pressing issues facing mountain regions today. Through 22 keynote speeches, 65 parallel sessions and 72 paper/poster presentations, participants explored innovative solutions based on natural, cultural and interdisciplinary approaches to biodiversity conservation and rural revitalization in mountain communities, calling for greater attention and resources to the protection and restoration of mountain areas.

"The III Mountain Futures Conference is an opportunity to share innovation, scientific achievements and social action for mountains," said Sara Manuelli, Advocacy and Outreach Officer of the Mountain Partnership Secretariat at FAO. “Through advocacy and communications, over the past 20 years, the MP has put mountains firmly into the spotlight, now it’s time to turn the attention into investments and policy action,” she emphasized during a round table on setting a Roadmap for Mountain Futures. Sara Manuelli also presented the Fashion for Fragile Ecosystems initiative during the Future Living Museum Opening ceremony in which the potential of the Calotropis gigantea (giant milkweed) as a plant-based cashmere fibre was outlined and the Saharong Academy was launched.

The Mountain Futures Conference was hosted by the Kunming Institute of Botany of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) International Ecosystem Management Partnership (IEMP), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Mountain Partnership, World Agroforestry (ICRAF) and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD).

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Photo: ©Centre for Mountain Futures

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