Almost one billion people live in mountainous areas, and over half the human population depends on mountains for water, food, and clean energy. Still, mountain ecosystems are under siege by climate change, land degradation, over-exploitation of natural resources, and natural disasters, with far-felt consequences.
To address the urgent challenges faced by mountain peoples and environments the UNDP implemented GEF Small Grants Programme and the Mountain Partnerships Secretariat (MPS) of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations joined forces and combined their efforts to build alliances with the common goal of improving the local economies and livelihoods of mountain communities through the strengthening of agri-food value chains.
The partnership was launched today during the UNHQ Celebration of the International Mountain Day, co-organized by FAO, the Permanent Missions of Andorra, Austria, Canada, and Kyrgyzstan, and UNDP.
As the vulnerability of mountain populations increase, migration to cities, urban centers and abroad also increases. This migration from mountain areas results in loss of traditional knowledge of the provisioning ecosystem services of mountains, as well as the loss of cultural diversity and agrobiodiversity. Investment and good policy can alleviate the harsh living conditions of mountain communities and reverse out-migration trends from mountain areas.
With this in mind, SGP, the Mountain Partnerships, and Slow Food created this joint program with the objective to improve the lives of mountain peoples and conserve mountain ecosystems. By providing technical and financial support to small-holders in mountain communities, the partnership hopes to increase the value-added mountain products and facilitate linkages with markets, including certification and labelling.
SGP is active in 24 countries with more than 30 projects in critical mountain ecosystems. With a Ecosystem and Biodiversity portfolio amounting to $450 million in grants in more than 80 countries, SGP focuses on capacity development for effective democratic biodiversity governance and ecosystem management, through innovative environmental financing mechanisms, accessible markets for ecosystem goods and services, and generating sustainable livelihoods.
It is our hope that this will build on SGP’s considerable mountain portfolio and find avenues for further collaboration for the benefit of mountain communities. It is expected that as the partnership strengthens, many mountain countries and partners with interests in mountain ecosystems, will join the initiative.