Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern
Mountains Matter for Global Sustainable Development
Submission to the Rio 2012 Secretariat
for the ?Compilation Document?
by Dr. Thomas Kohler on behalf of the
Centre for Development and Environment CDE (University of Bern, Switzerland)
Water supply, food security and clean energy are likely to become the major challenges of humanity on Earth in the near future. A sustainable development of the world will require efforts to address critical shortcomings of these challenges. This understanding leads the Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) to make the following proposals for the ?Compilation Document? that will lead to the ?Zero Draft? of the Rio 2012 ?Outcome Document?:
CDE expects that the critical role and stakes of mountain ecosystems and mountain communities are adequately reflected in all documents and future sustainable development (SD) promoting structures emerging from the Rio 2012 Conference thus recognizing that half of the world?s population depends on water from mountain regions and that many mountain endemic plant and animal species may become of vital importance for food security on earth.
Comments on existing proposals
a) Green Economy (GE) Roadmap:Mountains provide through their low-input and environmentally friendly traditional agriculture and their hydro power potential a promising field for GE. This should be reflected in appropriate manner in the forthcoming content and structural proposals of Rio 2012.
b) Framework for Action: In order to give more weight to the role of mountain ecosystems in future SD efforts, the so-far marginalized and neglected mountain areas and mountain inhabitants need to be explicitly addressed as an asset for achieving SD.
c) Sustainable Development Goals:Specific targets addressing mountain regions with their critical ecosystem services and their strong socio-cultural identities need to be defined and included.
d) Partnership for Sustainable Development: New pathways and adequate incentives need to be explored to attract private investment in mountain areas based on fair access and benefit sharing.
Pathways for closing the implementation gap
To our understanding the active involvement of local actors as custodians of natural resources has failed. We thus propose to establish innovative multi-level multi-stakeholder platforms that can enhance dialogue, help exchange experiences and act as ?market place? where demands, offers and ideas meet.
Proposal for a specific cooperation mechanism
In the light of the above stated, efforts are under way to launch the ?World Mountain Forum for Sustainable Development? as a permanent platform with a peak event linked to the UN International Mountain Day (11 December). This endeavor shall be undertaken through a novel Public Private Partnership (PPP).CDE expects that through such an initiative the relationship between mountain people and lowland inhabitants can be improved and strengthened to jointly achieve a SD on Earth. The official launch could take place during the Rio 2012 Conference in cooperation with the Mountain Partnership hosted by FAO.
Objectives of the Conference / sectoral priorities
Given the high vulnerability of mountain ecosystems with regard to the negative impact of Climate Change (glacier melting, hazard impacts, changes in river flow) and their critical role as water towers of the world we strongly recommend to include explicit links to mountain systems for the expected sectoral priorities such as in particular water, energy, food security, agriculture, natural disasters and their prevention, biodiversity as well as possibly conflicts. As such, mountain ecosystems provide an ideal context to integrate sectoral initiatives with the three pillars of SD in a comprehensive approach.
Green Economy as a pathway for SD
In mountain regions ? probably more than anywhere else - it clearly appears that the environment is the biggest market(-ing) failure so far. The appropriate valuation of the environmental goods and services is thus one first step to reduce this failure and create markets where needed and meaningful. Hence we consider that in the context of mountains, GE has the potential to promote ?Sustainable Mountain Development? e.g. by promoting the principle of ?Payment for Ecosystem Goods and Services? that are of ?green nature? in the case of mountain areas. Furthermore most mountainous agricultural production systems are already ?green? and would need a corresponding recognition and support to be kept alive in future given the negative impacts of Global Change and migration.
Institutional framework for SD
Mountain dwellers are often living under very harsh conditions due to local climate and remoteness.However, while their traditional way of living is considered as ?backward?, it has proven to be much more sustainable than most urban livelihoods and lifestyles. . We urge decision makers to adopt a different attitude towards mountain communities and recognize their socio-cultural, spiritual and esthetic values. We thus recommendto include these aspects in the future institutional frameworks and at all levels. Moreover, the traditional institutions - such as e.g. the maintenance work for irrigation systems - that shape the life of mountain people, may well serve as examples or even models for lowland areas to move towards SD.
The above input is based on the following reference document: Draft Synthesis Report on Progress and Perspectives in Sustainable Mountain Develop-ment: From Rio 1992 to Rio 2012 and beyond. Draft prepared for the ?Lucerne World Mountain Conference? 10-12 October 2011. Prepared by Daniel Maselli, Thomas Kohler , Clara Ariza Niņo, and Greg Greenwood based on material provided by the regional reports and other sources. Revised version 1 November 2011