• Date submitted: 27 Oct 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Name: Euromontana
  • Submission Document: Download
Keywords: Vulnerability (1 hits), vulnerable (0 hits),

Full Submission

From Rio 1992 to 2012 and beyond: 20 years of Sustainable Mountain Development - What have we learnt and where should we go?

Key messages

Since 1992, when chapter 13 on mountains as fragile ecosystems was introduced in Agenda 21, the demand for goods and services from mountains has grown considerably.

We assert that mountains are territories with a future and opportunities for Europe and the world. They have much to deliver to society at large and have great potential for smarter, greener and more inclusive development. They are also distinctive areas, because of their altitude, their steep slopes, their low population density, their challenges and their opportunities, and consequently should be addressed specifically. We call for public and private investment in these areas. The return on investment might indeed take longer in these areas than in urban areas or lowlands, but the investment itself will undeniably be more sustainable.

At the same time, these mountain territories are faced with a number of challenges. Indeed, the ability of mountain systems to provide essential goods and services for all of humanity is increasingly under threat from climate change, globalization, a chronic lack of investment, ongoing land degradation in some areas, the absence of an integrated approach to territorial development in many countries, and increasing trends to the concentration of population in ever bigger agglomerations. We recognize that, despite the progress that has been made in promoting sustainable development in many mountain regions, most national and international development agendas still tend to treat mountains, if at all, as marginal environments.

On the basis of its experience in the field of sustainable mountain development, its role in development of mountain policies at European, national and regional level, and its specific economic, environmental and social contexts, EUROMONTANA recommends that the United Nations, in the discussion at UNCSD, to be held in Rio de Janeiro in 2012:

?h recognise the specific role of mountains and the corresponding need for integrated mountain development policies and targeted investment;
?h recognise in particular the role provided by mountain ecosystems in providing services that support and enhance the Earthˇ¦s sustainability, and the key role that mountain communities play in delivering these services, by developing concepts of payment and compensation for ecosystem services, and implementing such concepts, and considering the economic value of services provided in the general interest (green accounting),
?h integrate the assets of mountain regions in processes leading to sustainable development and green Economies, recognising that a geographical differentiation is needed; to identify therefore the conditions required to fully unleash mountain development potential and invest to secure that these conditions exist;
?h adopt a multi-sectoral, multi-level and multi-stakeholder approach enabling the UN to direct its Sustainable Development policy towards concrete areas of interest and to identify and strengthen entities for cooperation and the implementation of such policies at the appropriate levels, whether regional, local or mountain range,
?h promote networks and partnerships of mountain stakeholders at all levels (governmental, civil society, private sector) and encourage the relevant national and international organisations to consider mountain-related concerns.
?h to support mountain-specific observation, research, knowledge development and awareness on environmental, economic and social aspects of mountain areas.

Mountains can deliver green growth

Mountains and their economies are particularly well placed to deliver green growth, due to their rich natural and cultural heritage. They are the water towers of the world and major reservoirs of biodiversity and natural resources. Due to their topography, altitude and large forest areas, the renewable energy potential in mountain regions is superior to that of many lowland areas; though this also represents a challenge for landscape and biodiversity. As mountain agriculture provides many high-quality products and services, including organic or environmentally friendly farming and extensive rangelands, this sector, often in cooperation with others, can serve as a laboratory for the conservation of biodiversity in balance with human use of resources and interest. Mountains are also among the most exposed to global change. This means that greening the economy is important for mountain economies to reduce their Vulnerability and to increase local added value and employment as well as secure synergy between economic growth, environmental protection and social progress.

With their natural and cultural diversity and importance for downstream regions in terms of resources and ecosystem services, mountain areas are important innovation motors in Green Economies, particularly in sectors where they are ideally placed to invent new and promising solutions, such as green transport, renewable energy supplies, life sciences, new forms of food supply chains, sustainable tourism, or remote service delivery.

However, innovative institutional arrangements are urgently required to foster governance models and decision support systems aiming at both the integration of the social, ecological and economic capital at all scales in mountain regions, and the mainstreaming of mountains into overall national development and conservation processes.

This requires in particular:
?h major investments to assemble the conditions allowing these areas to fully and sustainably exploit their potential, notably in the sectors of environmentally-friendly transport, energy, ICT and services of general interest;
?h a multi-sectoral approach aiming, inter alia, at adequately rewarding the provision of ecosystem services from mountain areas in the general interest, where necessary by correcting market failures related to the specificities of mountain territories. Land managers such as farmers and foresters should, in particular, be equitably remunerated for the provision of public goods resulting from their economic activities .
?h general support to the development of initiatives adding value to mountain products (food, crafts) and services (tourismˇK) in relation to their specific cultural and environmental features.

Euromontana has elaborated, in relation to these issues, recommendations on how to remunerate positive externalities provided by mountain land managers; foster the innovation potential of mountain areas; support development of sustainable tourism renewable energies, and services of general interest in mountain areas. It also has developed the European Charter for Mountain Quality Food products, launched at the European Parliament in 2005 and signed by almost 70 governments and organisations. This should lead to the adoption soon of specific protection for mountain food products at European level, opening the way to a specific market segment for mountain quality products,expected by many consumers.

Mountain development can contribute to a more inclusive global development

Enhancing global political commitment that translates into increased investments tailored to mountain regions will directly benefit mountain communities, some of which are very poor, and indirectly humanity as a whole. Mountain regions are likely to contribute widely to social innovation, thanks to their intense community life. Their governance and cooperation models are often unique, but may also provide valuable models for other regions. Furthermore, sustainable mountain development is a component of a more balanced territorial and place-based development which is highly needed and likely to contribute to a more even and socially sustainable distribution of population and wealth on Earth.

A more inclusive and place-based approach to development requires the adoption of a multi-stakeholder approach and a multi-level governance approach.

Across the worldˇ¦s mountains, the numerous networking entities active at different (governmental, NGO, research level, development agenciesˇK) demonstrate a strong identification in the search for sustainable development solutions for mountains. The dynamism of the Euromontana network, bringing together different sorts of actors at different levels, since its creation in 1996, is a good demonstration of this. The UN can build on the European expertise in this respect ˇV including European networks, inter-governmental conventions such as Alpine or Carpathian conventions, as well as emerging institutions in mountain research and policy development.

The UN must also promote the development of multi-level governance. Mountain ranges are functional areas whose geographical extent often overlaps multiple administrative boundaries. Euromontana is convinced that a focus on functional areas such as mountain ranges can help UN Sustainable Development policies to approach environmental and Green Economy challenges on a regional level, according to the Local Agenda 21 concept (thinking globally, acting locally). Hence, sustainable mountain development, notably through integrated and socially inclusive policies, as well as low carbon technologies, should have a prominent place in the Rio 2012 agenda and in particular in its final declaration. To achieve these ends, strong and united advocacy for mountain issues with tangible results in future UNCSD negotiations is essential.

*** Euromontana is the multi-sectoral association for cooperation and development of mountain areas. It embraces regional and national mountain organisations throughout greater Europe, including regional development agencies, local authorities, agriculture organisations, environmental agencies, forestry organisations and research institutes. Euromontanaˇ¦s mission is to promote living mountains, integrated and sustainable development and quality of life in mountain areas. In order to achieve this, Euromontana facilitates the exchange of information and experience among these areas by organising seminars and major conferences, by conducting and collaborating in studies, by developing, managing and participating in European projects and by working with the European institutions on mountain issues. Euromontana is a member of the Mountain Partnership, former focal point for Europe for the FAO Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development in Mountains project, member of the UN ECOSOC, observer at the Alpine Convention, and provides expertise in groups advising various EU Institutions.

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