UN Secretary-General Releases Report on Sustainable Mountain Development

11 August 2011: The UN General Assembly (UNGA) has published a report of the UN Secretary-General that was prepared by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) in response to UNGA resolution 64/205 requesting the Secretary-General to report to it at its 66th session on the status of sustainable development in mountain regions.

The report notes that mountain regions face many challenges, including climate change, and calls for a prominent place for sustainable mountain development in the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) process. It briefly highlights examples of actions being taken at the national level in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe. At the international level, the report highlights thematic initiatives on biodiversity conservation and mountain ecosystems; climate change, particularly related to glacial impacts; watershed management; disaster risk management; indigenous peoples issues; payments for ecosystem services; high quality mountain products; and tourism.

The report also describes partnerships, transboundary cooperation and funding mechanisms. On partnerships, it highlights the Mountain Partnership, which was launched at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) and has over 180 members. On transboundary cooperation, it outlines regional efforts among national organizations, as well as relationships with international organizations. Over the decade 2000-2010, the World Bank identified global investments of approximately US$66 billion for sustainable mountain development.

The report includes recommendations related to international processes, calling for prioritization of mountain issues in development agendas, the promotion of regional coordination, support for the Mountain Partnership, increased efforts for mountain biodiversity conservation, integration of mountain issues into climate change and desertification processes, and ensuring a prominent place for mountains in the Rio+20 process.

On policy recommendations, the report, inter alia, encourages institutions for coordination, greater engagement by civil society and the private sector, the formulation of strategies, programmes and policies to address mountain issues, strategies of adaptation and mitigation of climate change that consider mountain issues, and integration of adaptation and mitigation into National Adaptation Plans of Action (NAPAs).

On financial mechanisms, the report calls for increased levels of investment for sustainable mountain development and the promotion of development of high-quality products and services from mountain areas. The report also describes recommendations related to raising awareness and research. [Publication: Report of the Secretary-General: Sustainable Mountain Development]