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Federal Institute for Less-Favoured and Mountainous Areas
  • Date submitted: 24 Oct 2011
  • Stakeholder type: Major Group
  • Submission Document: Download
  • Additional Document:

Thomas DAX and Gerhard HOVORKA,

Federal Institute for Less-Favoured and Mountainous Areas (BABF),

Vienna, Austria



24 October 2011

Sustainable Mountain Development

(Contribution for the compilation document towards Rio+20)

Since 1992, when chapter 13 on mountains as fragile ecosystems was introduced in Agenda 21, the recognition of the need for mountain-specific development strategies has risen in many regions. As the demand for goods and services from mountains has grown considerably a stronger targeting of respective policies is sought. Moreover, the ability of mountain systems to provide essential goods and services for all of humanity is increasingly under threat from ongoing land degradation, a chronic lack of investment, climate change and globalization.

The Federal Institute for Less-Favoured and Mountainous Areas (BABF), a Mountain Partnership member, recognizes that despite the progress that has been made in promoting sustainable development of mountain regions, national and international development agendas still treat mountains, if at all, as marginal environments. As a result, poverty rates are in general higher than in non-mountain areas, depicting the excessive dependency of mountain regions on development centers. Regional initiatives to foster innovation and cooperation of mountains have started, but need further policy incentives and priorities for enhancing effectively the development process.

A positive example for international efforts to support sustainable mountain development and promote mountain ecosystem goods and services at the institutional framework level and green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication in Europe is the Alpine Convention (partners: eight alpine member states and the European Union; see: www.alpconvention.org). Recently similar transboundary activities were established in other mountain ranges like the Carpathians (www.carpathianconvention.org) and the Balkans and the Dinaric Arc (http://www.mtnforum.org/en/content/towards-network-mountain-protected- areas-balkans-and-dinaric-arc) and others. Specific support for mountain farming and organic farming are of crucial importance for sustainable development in mountain areas in Europe.

In the context of a Green Economy, new opportunities for investments by the private sector are emerging in mountain regions, especially in sustainable agriculture and forestry, and ecosystem goods and services. However, innovative institutional arrangements are urgently required to trigger governance models and decision support systems aiming at both the integration of the social, ecological and economic capital at all scales in mountain regions, as well as the actual mainstreaming of mountains into overall national development and conservation processes. Future action has to reflect increasingly the linkages to food supply and food sovereignty issues at a global scale.

Enhancing the global political commitment that translates into increased investments tailored to mountain regions will directly benefit poor mountain communities and indirectly humanity as a whole. Hence, sustainable mountain development, notably through integrated and socially inclusive policies, activities for a fair distribution of natural and human resources, 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 for the future of sustainable mountain farming, integrated development in mountain areas, people living in mountain areas and also people living in lowlands depending on mountain ecosystem services.
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