Between 11th and the 13th December 2017 Active Remedy directors (Stella Joy & Tara Joy) attended the fifth Global Meeting of the Mountain Partnership (MP) at UN/FAO in Rome, Italy. MP is a United Nations voluntary alliance of partners dedicated to improving the lives of mountain peoples and protecting mountain environments around the world. The theme of the meeting was ‘Mountains Under Pressure: Climate, Hunger, Migration’ and it celebrated fifteen years of MP. Its main focus was related to forward steps for the next thirteen years and over 220 participants attended it.
Active Remedy has been a member of the Mountain Partnership since 2012 and we were very happy to have the opportunity to join with the other MP members on this common goal. We have worked for many years on raising awareness about the fact that the health of mountain ecosystems is not simply a topic for mountain communities, but also an important topic for the whole global community. These ecosystems are an essential part of the global water cycle and climate systems.
It seemed very positive that the first day of the meeting 11th December, coincided with International Mountain Day. The event was started with high-level statements, given by founding members of the MP, including the FAO, the governments of Italy and Switzerland, and the UN Environment Programme. This was followed by remarks by three Mountain Partnership Goodwill Ambassadors, including His Holiness Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang, head of the Drikung Kagyu order of Tibetan Buddhism; Arjun Gupta, founder of TeleSoft Partners; and Jake Norton, founder of MountainWorld Productions. Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General, World Meteorological Organization also gave a keynote speech.
The MP Framework for Action was launched at the start of the meeting and throughout the three days, MP members discussed the challenges and responses to it and its alignment with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Both Stella Joy and Tara Joy took the opportunity throughout the discussions, to propose that the mountain agenda would be significantly strengthened by placing far greater emphasis upon the role of mountain ecosystems for regulating the global water cycle. They applauded the advocacy work of MP members and the Secretariat in getting 3 Targets for mountains into the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. They also emphasised that because Targets 6.6 and 15.1 of the 2030 Agenda included mountains, water and ecosystems, working for the achievement of these two Targets would facilitate the achievement of Target 15.4. This input seemed to be generally well received.
In November 2017 Active Remedy submitted a paper towards the Global Sustainable Development Report 2019, which focuses upon these issues and could be complimentary in implementing the framework for action.
The different MP members brought up some interesting and important points and it was refreshing to hear about their experiences in working for mountains and their communities throughout the world and their visions for a joint action plan for the next four years. Work priorities for the next four years, organised around MP’s functions of advocacy, capacity development, joint action, and communication, were identified. There was a general consensus that, somehow, far greater engagement with the wider global community was needed so that mountains are no longer viewed simply as a niche topic but instead as regions with very significant environmental impact. Grammenos Mastrojeni (Assistant Director-General, Coordinator for the Environment, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Italy) spoke very clearly about the urgency of this. It seemed very positive that the key role of mountains and their ecosystems for regulating water was discussed at some length throughout various meetings. However due to the urgency of the global water and climate situation, this discussion needs to be extended and given far great attention.
Active Remedy recently released a new book on this topic called ‘Earth’s Water Story- Taking a Closer Look’. Stella Joy and Tara Joy gave and shared copies of this with MP members throughout the event. The book is quite small yet it carries a large message told through the medium of striking photographs, quotes from experts, thought provoking statements and suggestions for innovative solutions to global water and climate related problems. Overall it received a positive response from MP members and was particularly appreciated by University Professors, who expressed interest in sharing it with their students.
Throughout the three days there were a number of side events. One that was of particular relevance to us at Active Remedy was the one titled ‘Understanding Landscape and Watershed Management in Mountains’. During this side event Petra Wolter (Senior Consultant, FAO) gave a keynote presentation on the new FAO publication entitled ‘Watershed Management in Action’. This was very interesting and during the questions and answers sessions Tara Joy commended the positive example of the 12 watershed case studies and suggested that it would be very beneficial if there could be a framework set-up, for an interlinking network of watershed management programs throughout mountain regions, for addressing many global water related issues.
On the final day of the Global Meeting, the Partnership considered how best to support the implementation of the Framework for Action. A few members suggested that it would be beneficial for MP to be more visible in the yearly session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Active Remedy is also a partner with the UNFCCC in the Nairobi Work Program (NWP) focused upon addressing the impacts, vulnerability and adaptation approaches to human induced climate change. Therefore when the COP Summits were mentioned Stella Joy proposed that Mountain Partnership joined forces with the Nairobi Work Program and as is recommended in the NWP Synthesis Paper on ‘Health and Adaptation’, 2017:
“Work with a combination of traditional and indigenous knowledge practices and modern techniques, to establish problem-based solutions focused on reducing water scarcity.”
In 2016 the Secretariat of the UNFCCC invited Active Remedy to contribute towards a worldwide database on the use of Local, Indigenous and Traditional Knowledge and Practices for Climate Adaptation. In response to this request, Active Remedy submitted a Report outlining a methodology for working with mountain communities in restoring and conserving mountain ecosystems. It has been accepted as a tool for implementation and can be found in the UNFCCC knowledge portal.
Because the global water cycle and climate are totally interlinked and healthy mountain ecosystems are essential for the regulation of both, collaboration between MP and the NWP could be very positive. This could significantly aid in achieving mountain, water and climate related Targets within the 2030 Agenda Goals and bring far greater awareness to the immense importance of mountains for all life on Earth.
Overall Stella Joy and Tara Joy felt that attending the Fifth Global Meeting of Mountain Partnership was very positive. They were delighted to meet with so many interesting and inspiring people, working for mountain ecosystems and mountain communities. They found it fascinating and encouraging to hear about all the different experiences in mountain regions around the world and to see the common links and areas for possible collaboration.
We at Active Remedy sincerely hope that this meeting has helped to forge stronger links between the MP members and that as a result, fresh collaborative initiatives will be implemented that aid in the large scale conservation and restoration of mountain ecosystems and empowerment of mountain communities.