Governments and civil society step up efforts to help mountain people better cope with climate change, hunger and migration

Rome � Some 60 countries and over 200 civil society organizations pledged today on International Mountain Day to strengthen mountain people's and their environments' resilience in the face of rising climate change, hunger and migration, and ensure sustainable mountain development is integrated in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The members of the Mountain Partnership - an alliance founded in 2002 by Italy, Switzerland, FAO, and UN Environment Programme, with over 300 members from the government, intergovernmental, civil society and private sectors - pledged that, by 2030:

Governments will review and update their development policies to integrate appropriate strategies for sustainable mountain development and mountain ecosystem conservation;

Governments, intergovernmental organizations and donors will review and update their international development cooperation policies to make sustainable mountain development and mountain ecosystem conservation an integral part of these policies;

They will raise awareness on the importance of sustainable mountain development and mountain ecosystem conservation in all relevant international forums.

Mountain people at risk

The one billion mountain people � about 13 percent of the global population - are increasingly affected by climate change and climate-induced disasters. They are often geographically isolated living on the political and economic margins of their countries, making them more prone to hunger and poverty.

One in three mountain people in developing countries is vulnerable to food insecurity. For rural areas, it is one out of every two people, said Maria Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director-General.

As mountain people become more vulnerable, migration to urban areas and abroad increases. Those who remain are often women, left to manage the farms but with little access to credit, training and land tenure rights.

Building stronger mountain communities

Investing in sustainable agriculture in mountain regions is central to the response to climate and migration challenges as it promotes the adaptation to and mitigation of climate change and reduces other root causes of migration such as rural poverty and food insecurity, added Semedo.

In line with the commitments of the 2030 agenda - "no one is left behind" - and the Paris climate agreement, mountains must be at the center of global political discussion and cooperation as well as of development activities to promote policies, investments and research, said Andrea Olivero, Italy's Deputy Minister for Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies.

Italy played an important role in the country-led process that culminated in today's pledge.

Marking International Mountain Day

FAO today also launched the Watershed Management in Action publication, in recognition of the important role well managed mountain watersheds play in supplying freshwater to humankind and reducing the risk of natural disasters for downstream communities.

The publication presents lessons learned and recommendations based on a comparative review of 12 FAO-supported projects testing new watershed management approaches over the past decade in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Ecuador, the Gambia, Guatemala, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritania, Morocco, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Tanzania and Zambia.

Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations