World Forum Calls for Increased Ambition to Advance Sustainable Mountain Development Agenda
Photo by Ivetta Gerasimchuk | IISD
story highlights

Noting that mountain areas are particularly vulnerable to climate change, discussions highlighted the impact of trends such as changing precipitation and shrinking glaciers, peak water, and increasing water demands.

Mountain stakeholders were advised to focus on “priming the pump” by developing investment-ready projects, gathering compelling data, and improving awareness of investment opportunities in mountain regions.

Participants emphasized the importance of strengthening partnerships to raise awareness on mountain issues and ensuring a “bold and ambitious” outcome from the Forum.

26 October 2018: The fourth World Mountain Forum (WMF 2018) brought together around 300 participants to discuss the overarching theme, ‘Mountains in a Changing World: Strengthening Partnerships and Pathways Towards a Thriving Mountain Future.’ Highlights included consolidation of messages for the outcome document titled, ‘A Call for Mountains,’ that will be released on International Mountain Day 2018, and a proposal to embark on a process towards a global convention on mountains.

The Forum also launched the issue brief titled, ‘Leaving No One In Mountains Behind: Localizing the SDGs for Resilience of Mountain Peoples and Ecosystems.’

In diverse plenary and parallel thematic sessions, participants highlighted current trends and future pathways for sustainable mountain development (SMD), with a focus on lessons from ongoing SMD initiatives and entry points for strengthening partnerships under each theme. The four themes addressed by the Forum are: Climate Change Affecting Water and Energy in Mountain Areas; Poverty, Food Systems and Agrobiodiversity; Resilience and Transformation in Mountain Communities and Ecosystems; and Investing in Mountains – Securing the Future.

Noting that mountain areas are particularly vulnerable to climate change, discussions under the climate change track highlighted the impact of trends such as changing precipitation and shrinking glaciers, peak water, and increasing water demands. Results of a recent assessment of the Hindu Kush Himalaya region were presented, which projects losses of at least 30% of glacier mass under a 1.5°C warming scenario and a doubling of flood magnitude by the end of the century.

Discussions emphasized the need for transformative education systems that build on local knowledge systems and innovation.

Under thematic discussions focusing on agrobiodiversity and resilience, participants noted the high rate of biodiversity loss in many mountain regions, while also highlighting opportunities to improve livelihoods and adaptation of mountain communities through diversification in agriculture and expansion of non-agricultural income opportunities such as tourism and handicrafts. Discussions emphasized the need for “mountain friendly” and transformative education systems that build on local knowledge systems and innovation.

Discussions on financing SMD concluded that while there is a dearth of mountain-specific financing mechanisms, there are opportunities to tap into the estimated US$10 trillion in impact investments targeting projects that contribute to environmental and social governance. Mountain stakeholders were advised to focus on “priming the pump” by developing investment-ready projects, gathering compelling data, and improving awareness of investment opportunities in mountain regions.

In a session highlighting key messages for the outcome document, participants called for a dedicated SMD fund; enhanced research collaboration and knowledge sharing, especially at the regional level; and recognizing the rights of local mountain communities to land and natural resources. Other recommendations highlighted the need for additional analysis on the impact of different global warming scenarios on mountain areas; and including valuations of mountain regions in natural capital accounting approaches.

Discussing how to raise the profile of mountains in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other global processes, participants emphasized the importance of strengthening partnerships to raise awareness on mountain issues and ensuring a “bold and ambitious” outcome document from the Forum.

WMF 2018 took place from 23-26 October 2018, in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, and was co-organized by the University of Central Asia (UCA) and the Government of Kyrgyzstan, under the auspices of the Sustainable Mountain Development for Global Change Programme of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). [IISD RS Coverage and Summary of WMF 2018] [WMF 2018 Website]


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