The UN reports on sustainable development in mountain areas

The UN reports on sustainable development in mountain areas

Every 3 years, the FAO and the Mountain Partnership prepare for the United Nations a report on the progress of sustainable development in the mountains. With only 8 years left to implement the objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, what has been the progress in mountains in recent years? The FAO and Mountain Partnership report notes progress in various areas, particularly in Europe.

The publication this year of the 6th IPCC report and its cross-chapter on mountains has greatly contributed to the dissemination of scientific knowledge on the state of climate change and adaptation solutions in the mountains. In terms of adaptation, the report also highlights the contribution made by the Swiss programme Adaptation at Altitude.

Moreover, 2021 was also marked by the official launch of the new Mountain Biosphere Network, whose objective is to promote the exchange of experiences between those responsible for biosphere reserves in order to improve their management and their contribution to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

With regard to agriculture, the report recalls the importance of supporting mountain production, which is often based on a small-scale family farming model. In this respect, it welcomes the efforts made in recent years by Romania in implementing the Optional Quality Term “mountain products”. Efforts made by the National Agency for Mountain Areas in Romania have resulted in the labelling of more than 3,300 mountain products and more than 1,200 producers in only 5 years.

Finally, the report underlines the importance of taking mountains into account in policies and governance. In particular, it welcomes the measures taken in Italy to target mountain areas in terms of access to services and the adoption of the first national strategy for the mountains in Cyprus. Other tools, such as the massif committees in France and Romania or European strategies such as EUSALP are also welcomed by the report.

How to go further by 2030?

The above mentioned initiatives can greatly contribute to integrated strategies for sustainable mountain development. Nevertheless, the report stresses the need to develop more policies targeted at mountains, in order to take into account their particularities and to respond effectively to their specific challenges. In addition, more mountain-specific data needs to be collected to allow for a detailed analysis of these issues. The recommendations also call for strengthening efforts to adapt to climate change by implementing appropriate governance and finance and by training stakeholders.

Several events will provide an opportunity to mobilise stakeholders and decision-makers on these issues. This is the case for 2022, which has been declared the International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development, and 2026 as the International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists. The authors of the report also expect the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030 to raise awareness on mountain ecosystem protection.