The Mountain Partnership is the only United Nations voluntary alliance of partners dedicated to promoting the world’s mountains and mountain peoples. Mountains contribute to sustaining the livelihoods of 1.1 billion people living in mountains and those of a much larger number of people in the lowlands. They provide up to 80% of the total freshwater used by humanity for domestic consumption, irrigation, industry, food, and energy production. Mountains are an important repository of agrobiodiversity that might be key to the future of world food security in the face of climate change by providing a gene pool of resilient crops.
The Mountain Partnership has actively engaged in the process leading up to the Food Systems Summit through the hosting of an independent dialogue and a parallel session during the Pre-Summit as well as contributing to a number of information materials to ensure the role of sustainable food systems in mountains is acknowledged.
The Mountain Partnership continues to advocate for policies, investments, and programmes for mountains in the form of actionable commitments to protect mountains as the “water towers of the world”, promote their adaptation to climate change, and recognize their role in ensuring food security. Food systems in vulnerable ecosystems such as mountains play a central role in the sustainable transformation and food security, both at the local through food provision and rural development and at the global level through the provision of ecosystem services such as water. Promoting more resilient and sustainable food systems in mountains is a prerequisite to lifting mountain communities out of high rates of food insecurity and malnutrition, which are expected to increase with the COVID-19 pandemic. Sustainable land-use practices, agroecological principles, traditional and indigenous agricultural knowledge and practices are essential for maintaining healthy mountain ecosystems. The investment and promotion of specialty mountain products and certification schemes can advance equitable livelihoods.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development explicitly recognizes the importance and vulnerability of mountains with three dedicated Sustainable Development Goal targets (6.6, 15.1, and 15.4). However, mountains’ role in supporting sustainable food systems is still neglected. We aim to heighten the visibility of and political support for the relevance of mountains to sustainable development and food systems, in the spirit of the 2030 Agenda of leaving no one behind.