CL 115/INF/10


Hundred-and-fifteenth Session

Rome, 23 - 28 November 1998



I. Background

1. Chapter 13 of Agenda 21 (Managing Fragile Ecosystems: Sustainable Mountain Development) was endorsed by the Heads of State and government of most of the world’s nations at UNCED, recognizing, for the first time at such a level, the importance of mountain ecosystems and communities to the survival of the global ecosystem. It aims at generating and strengthening knowledge about the ecology and sustainable development of mountain ecosystems and promoting integrated watershed development and alternative livelihood opportunities for upland communities. There has been an active participation of UN agencies, national governments, NGOs, and research and academic institutions in both developed and developing countries in the follow-up of Chapter 13. It has considerable importance for many of the sectoral and cross-sectoral themes of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) such as freshwater, land resources, energy and tourism.

2. FAO has been serving as Task Manager for Chapter 13 since 1993. Many activities have been undertaken in the implementation of Chapter 13, which have resulted in heightened awareness of the global importance of mountain ecosystems and the need for concrete action for their sustainable development and conservation.


II. ECOSOC and the UN General Assembly Resolution proclaiming the International Year of Mountains (IYM)and FAO’s Role

3. Support for Chapter 13 has come from various horizons, including governments of developed and developing countries and major mountain interest groups. Realizing this broad support and momentum, the Kyrgyz Republic introduced a resolution in ECOSOC that the year 2002 be declared the International Year of Mountains (IYM), an initiative that was supported by 106 nations in ECOSOC resolution 1998/30. Subsequently, the UN General Assembly adopted a draft resolution (A/53/L.24) officially proclaiming 2002 as the International Year of Mountains and has invited FAO to be the lead agency for the IYM.

4. This is in recognition of FAO’s strong leadership in the implementation of Chapter 13 and the Organization’s important role in agriculture and natural resource management in mountain ecosystems throughout the world. The IYM is expected to contribute significantly to pursuing the goals of Chapter 13, as well as to addressing further concerns relating to conservation, culture and sustainable development. FAO’s focus on concrete goals relating to sustainable food production, improving nutrition and securing adequate water supply for rural people will also provide an opportunity to implement the IYM in a way that is consistent with the Organization’s mandate and meaningful to the needs of mountain communities and lowland people depending on resources of mountain ecosystems.


III. Conclusion and Recommendations for Action

5. The Council could welcome the adoption of UNGA resolution A/53/L.24 and the invitation to FAO to serve as lead agency for this year. It could further request the Director-General to transmit this message of support to the Secretary General of the United Nations.