Youth Safeguarding Sustainable Mountain Development
Only recently, mountains were recognized as a key pillar for the achievement of the Agenda 2030. Following the International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development (IYM 2022), light was shed on mountains’ importance as a reservoir of resources and ecosystem services such as water provision, food security, biodiversity conservation, livelihoods, cultural heritage, indigenous knowledge, tourism and sports. The main outcome of IYM 2022 was the 2023-2027 Five Years of Action for the Development of Mountain Regions.
However, mountains are facing multiple challenges including vulnerability to climate change, extreme weather events, deforestation, forest fires, land degradation and frequent natural disasters. These unfortunate scenarios raised the need to mobilize resources, spark political interest and initiate collective efforts on mountain development.
For the first time in 16 editions, the International Programme on Research & Training on Sustainable Management of Mountain Areas (IPROMO) course targeted youth participants from 26 countries. After years of success in training more than 500 professionals, the UN Mountain Partnership Secretariat passed on the legacy to youth, to support the mountain agenda globally and implement development projects and campaigns at the local and regional scale. Members of the Silva Mediterranea Youth Task Force participated in this edition of the Summer School.
Titled “Youth and the Future of Mountain Forests”, the summer school involved youth in the sustainable management of mountain forests through research, practice and policies. From 10 to 25 July 2023, participants visited the Alpine mountains of Italy from East in Pieve Tesino, to West in Ormea through intensive hands-on field excursions.
Through a series of lectures and workshops by experts from United Nations agencies, international organizations and renown universities, the young participants were introduced to overarching key topics such as science communication, climate smart forestry, circular bioeconomy, dendrochronology, attribution science, soil profiling, and green entrepreneurship all while valorizing the mountains’ nature, culture and spirituality.
By the end of the course, participants refined their skills and were able to present their own innovative group projects. Additionally, they joined a network of mountain researchers and practitioners, setting the path for future collaborations within their countries and beyond. Lastly, in order to catalyze actions towards the achievement of the 2023-2027 Five Years of Action for the Development of the Mountain Regions, participants provided guidelines for youth inclusion to be considered for the development of mountain regions through advocacy, capacity building, communication and joint action.
Leila Rossa Mouawad (Mediterranean Youth Task Force)