MPS Coordinator urges action on mountains


A paradigm shift is needed in recognition of the global importance of mountains and the ecosystem services they provide, Thomas Hofer, Mountain Partnership Secretariat (MPS) Coordinator told United Nations Radio in May 2016 ahead of a meeting with diplomats about hunger in the mountains. “There is a mismatch. There is the fact that mountain areas have a global importance… It is obvious that for the survival of the planet mountain areas are very crucial. On the other hand there is a neglect [of mountain areas]. They hold the key to global survival and deserve the requisite attention”, he said.

The focus of the conversation was on the new Mountain Facility that the Food and Agriculture Organization and the MPS introduced on 22 April 2016 as a funding mechanism to strengthen the capacity of governments and NGOs in addressing long-term and emerging challenges related to climate change, market access and management of natural resources, among other issues.

According to Hofer, “If you look at developing country mountain areas, every third person is potentially food insecure. And the global average is one in eight.” It is worse in rural mountain communities where almost every one in two people is vulnerable to food insecurity. Since the beginning of the century, these numbers have grown at least 30 percent as mountain environments suffer from harsh conditions relating to slope, altitude and now climate change. Natural hazards and climate change drastically impact the cropping systems and food production of the regions, he explained.

Mountain communities are disproportionately forgotten in national policy but are fundamentally important to survival of the planet, Hofer said, recalling that 60 to 80 percent of freshwater comes from mountains and at least a quarter of global biodiversity is in mountain regions. Yet they are not factors in national decision-making. Mountain communities tend to lack access to education, health services, training and markets. These issues become even more pressing in the face of conflict, which often take place in the mountains where national borders lie.

Listen to the interview in:

Photo: FAO/Sudeshna Chowdhury

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