Forum of Mountain Countries took place in Central Asia
More than 120 representatives of organizations from across Central Asia and from around the world whose work is dedicated to the concerns of mountain societies and environments, gathered in Dushanbe for the first ever Forum of Mountain Countries taking place in Central Asia, to share perspectives and best practices on sustainable mountain development.
Co-organized by the Central Asia Mountain Hub, hosted by University of Central Asia, in partnership with the State Committee on Environmental Protection, Government of Tajikistan and supported with funding from SDC (Switzerland), a day-long Forum work has been kicked off with the Knowledge Fair launching where Sustainable Development Good Practices by some 20 organizations have been show-cased. The photo exhibition which attracted much of interest featured work of 2 photographers on mountain glaciers, snow and ice in high Alps by Maralgua (Mongolia) and Laurence Piaget (Switzerland) under the Sustainable Mountain Art (SMArt) program implemented by the Foundation on Sustainable Development of Swiss Valais and the photos provided by the forum partner organizations: Oxfam Tajikistan, ACTED Tajikistan, CAMP Kuhiston (Tajikistan) and photo reportage by Alma Uzbekova, the Hub’s communication officer during her field trips throughout Kyrgyzstan.
The opening remarks have been delivered by H.E. Mr. Azim Ibrohim, Deputy Prime Minister, Republic of Tajikistan followed by Mr. Akbar Pesnani, AKDN Resident Representative to Tajik Republic, Ms.Regina Gujan, Program Coordinator, Swiss Cooperation Office, Tajikistan, Mr. Olimjon Boboev, Chairman, Ecological Commission, Lower House, Parliament of Tajik Republic and Ms. Sara Manuelli, Mountain Partnership Secretariat, FAO Rome.
The forum brought together government representatives at various levels, civil society groups, development agencies and researchers to explore the links between mountains and water and the contextual issues for sustainable mountain development including: climate change and its impacts on mountain agriculture, nutrition and health, the role of women in mountain ecosystem stewardship, integrated watershed management and disaster risk mitigation. Illuminating examples from across the region and around the world, eight sessions with 44 presentations and group discussions moderated by subject-matter experts from the global mountain community offered multiple perspectives on the challenges facing mountain communities. Issues explored included food security and creating conditions for entrepreneurship and better livelihoods, particularly among women; methods for conflict-resolution about pasture management, water and access to resources including frameworks for encouraging proactive participation by communities in the design of solutions; sustainable land management practices and the necessary governance mechanisms for achieving sustainable land management; land-use management practices and the need for integrating disaster risk mitigation into these systems; design and delivery of knowledge management solutions about water and mountains that offers not only technical solutions and platforms, but the capabilities to help transform information into action on the ground, designed by and for the communities it is intended to benefit; multidisciplinary and cross-cutting approaches to research problem formulation and project delivery and the requirement to strengthen communication between research and policy.
The conference concluded that priority actions should be to:
- Diversify food systems by supporting mountain farmers and encouraging climate-smart agriculture;
- Promote participatory governance of natural resources in watersheds;
- Upscale sustainable land management practices, including community-based climate risk mitigation plans;
- Introduce equitable benefit sharing and compensation mechanisms to properly reflect the services provided by mountains for all;
- Enable better knowledge exchange between practitioners, communities and researchers;
- Invest in decision-support tools and programs that integrate the concerns of mountain communities by working directly with them;
- Place sustainable mountain development concerns in development plans and use international meetings and conventions to emplace mountain issues in sustainable development goals and actions.
The forum results were presented by Svetlana Jumaeva, CCDR Tajikistan, at the final session of High Level International Conference “Water for Life” on June 10, 2015.
The conference declaration is open for review and inputs by all interested parties, until 22 June 2015.