Following the adoption in December 2016 of a resolution on sustainable development in mountain areas by the United Nations, a report on the state of play was presented during the UN’s 74th session of the General Assembly on September 24, 2019. The 2016 resolution, acknowledging the various threats in mountain areas and recognising the high value of these territories for the environment, economy and for the populations, included a final request for a report to be presented in 2019 to highlight the developments achieved on sustainable development in mountain areas. Prepared by the FAO and the Mountain Partnership, the report reminds readers the importance of mountain areas, covering 41% of the European territory for instance – and presents the progresses made since the adoption of the resolution back in 2016.
The UN’s report recalls the important threats connected to climate change in mountain areas, with consequences on biodiversity, landscapes and natural disasters among others. A recent study indeed showed that Alpine glaciers could completely disappear by 2100 if no change was made in climate policies. The report however points out the efforts made in the world and in Europe, by for instance welcoming the publication of the “Outlook on climate change adaptation in the Carpathian mountains” on which the Carpathian Convention and our member EURAC Research have worked and which evaluates the efficiency of climate adaptation policies. The UN also welcomes the publication by the Alpine Convention of its recent report on “Natural Hazard Risk Governance”, encouraging a multi-stakeholder governance to build efficient strategies. The work carried out in the Pyrenees by the Observatory of Climate Change in the Pyrenees is another example of successful action taken to evaluate the impacts of climate change in mountain areas and to provide the keys of mitigation and adaptation to local and regional policymakers.
The United Nations moreover recall the importance of mountain agriculture, which contributes to a number of SDGs – particularly in Europe to SGDs 3, 12, 13 and 15. Mountain agriculture was represented during the launch of the United Nations decade for family farming (2019-2028), where Euromontana was the voice of European mountain farmers.
Through this report, the UN demonstrates a good understanding of challenges to be tackled in mountain areas. Not only the report focuses on climate, biodiversity and agriculture but does also mention governance in mountain areas, which is a critical factor for inclusive and efficient development in our territories. In this regard, the progresses made in Romania are warmly welcomed by the UN; Romania indeed adopted a mountain law during the Summer 2018, a few month only before the XI European Mountain Convention in Vatra Dornei in September 2018. Resulting from 15 years of work, this law provides a national framework for a sustainable and inclusive development in Romanian mountains, in order to valorise its population and culture, improve its quality of life and protect its environment. The integrated vision of mountains in Italian legislations, implementing a “mountain proofing”, was also applauded in the report.
The UN’s report is a good encouragement to continue promoting the sustainable development of mountain areas in Europe. To see our contributions to this multifaced challenge, please refer to our working topics.27 September 2019