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Summary Report of the International Conference on Green Economy and Sustainable Mountain Development: Opportunities and Challenges in View of Rio+20
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Volume 188 Number 2 - Saturday, 10 September 2011
INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON GREEN ECONOMY AND SUSTAINABLE MOUNTAIN DEVELOPMENT: OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES IN VIEW OF RIO+20
5-7 SEPTEMBER 2011, KATHMANDU, NEPAL

The “International Conference on Green Economy and Sustainable Mountain Development: Opportunities and Challenges in View of Rio+20,” organized by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), with support from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), took place in Kathmandu, Nepal, from 5 to 7 September 2011. International Development Research Center (IDRC) and UNEP GRID/Arendal provided financial support to the International Conference. The International Conference, consisting of a two-day Workshop and one-day Conference, brought together international, regional and national experts and policy makers to discuss the relevance and scope of the green economy in the context of sustainable mountain development. It explored strategies, approaches and options for enhancing the role and prominence of mountain systems in regional and international debates and discussions. Participants contributed to the “Kathmandu Declaration on Green Economy and Sustainable Mountain Development.” Some of the recommendations in the Declaration include: the recognition of benefits derived from mountains; the establishment of global, regional, national and local mechanisms to compensate and reward mountain communities for the services mountains provide; the establishment of favorable conditions for improving markets for mountain ecosystem goods and services; a green economy in mountains based on equity; and access to resources and property rights for mountain women, indigenous communities and marginalized groups. The Declaration, once finalized, will feed into the forthcoming UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or Rio+20).

OPENING OF THE WORKSHOP

On Monday morning, Naina Shakya, International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), welcomed participants to the meeting, highlighting the meeting’s aim to position mountains in the green economy. In a welcome address, Andreas Schild, Director General, ICIMOD, noted that mountain systems already have green or “low-carbon” economies, and explained the challenge is how to keep mountain systems and communities green without leaving them poor.

Lamenting that mountain systems have not been strongly represented in international meetings in spite of their importance for providing goods and services to downstream communities and the world, he stressed the need for arguments to “defend and advocate for the interest of mountains,” especially at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or Rio+20).

He said the Hindu Kush-Himalaya (HKH) region and ICIMOD are well-positioned to promote mountain systems in the international forum, explaining that the HKH is home to roughly 50% of the world’s mountain population and provides extensive ecosystem services for large downstream populations, and that ICIMOD has participation from all of the HKH states.

Matthias Jurek, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), highlighted strategic cooperation with many actors, including ICIMOD, and the importance of mainstreaming mountain issues in the Rio+20 agenda. Golam Rasul, ICIMOD, described the organization of the Workshop and the Conference, its aim of raising the voice of mountain communities as well as its objective to develop a basis for common understanding on the role of mountains in the green economy.

Explaining that he would speak to larger issues that define the green economy in mountain regions, RK Pachauri, Director General, The Environment and Resources Institute (TERI), India, and Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), highlighted, inter alia, the need to measure flows and assign economic values to ecosystem services provided by mountain systems, and to the negative externalities borne by these regions from consumption and production in non-mountain regions. MF Farooqui, Ministry of Environment and Forests, India, highlighted the role of the meeting in emphasizing the importance of mountain ecosystems as well as in identifying elements of the green economy that can bolster the economies of mountain communities.

The chair of the workshop, Krishna Gyawali, Ministry of Environment, Nepal, noted that not all countries are on equal footing and that there are obstacles to the sustainable development of mountain communities. He praised ICIMOD for providing an opportunity to mainstream the interest of this region in the Rio+20 preparatory process.

SETTING THE STAGE OF THE WORKSHOP

Shoko Noda, UN Development Programme (UNDP) Country Director, Nepal, introduced a morning plenary session on “Setting the Stage of the Workshop.” She recalled that the outcomes of the meeting would act as a voice for mountain people at Rio+20 and encouraged participants to keep in mind the “big picture” and focus on concrete contributions.

On a framework for the green economy, Matthias Jurek, UNEP, outlined the need for “sustainable globalization” with innovative market mechanisms that capture the true value of nature-based goods and services. He pointed to UNEP’s Green Economy Initiative which aims to provide policy support and analysis for investments in green sectors and in greening environmentally-unfriendly sectors. He also highlighted the Green Economy Report as one of the main recent outcomes of this Initiative.

Golam Rasul, ICIMOD, presented the International Conference Background Paper, focusing on the role of mountain systems in the green economy. He underlined a lack of adequate incentives and compensation mechanisms for mountain communities to conserve mountain resources, the lack of mountain-specific data and valuation of intangible benefits, and unclear property rights. Rasul challenged participants to consider questions including: the costs of promoting a green economy in a mountain context; how the green economy can be made more relevant to mountainous developing countries; and whether the green economy can be pro-poor.

Gopal Kadekodi, Center for Multi-Disciplinary Development Research, India, discussed a paper on possibilities for mountain regions to follow a green economy path. He highlighted the importance of: creating a payment for ecosystem services (PES) market as an institutional mechanism; establishing appropriate prices for ecosystem services; and developing a compensation system.

In the ensuing discussion, one participant emphasized including non-mountain stakeholders in conversations about mountains; another called for greater investments in technologies. Kadekodi highlighted bringing a regional perspective to Rio+20 to make the contribution of mountains more visible.

MOUNTAIN ECOSYSTEM SERVICES

Session Chair MF Farooqui introduced a series of presentations on mountain ecosystem services.

On water and hydropower in the Himalaya region in the context of green economy, Ramesh Anand Vaidya, ICIMOD, urged a shift away from an “opportunity-driven and hydropower-focused” to a “scarcity- and challenge-driven” approach. Noting the unrealized potential for hydropower in the HKH region, Vaidya identified the need for benefit-sharing mechanisms with clear financial transactions to equalize the upstream and downstream impacts of hydropower projects and also the need for small and medium-hydroelectric power projects. On the financing constraints hindering hydropower development, Vaidya outlined barriers in the region to using instruments like the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).

Promode Kant, Institute of Green Economy, India, presented on forests and carbon in mountain land use systems. He identified reasons for the undervaluation of forests by mountain communities, and outlined potential benefits to communities from encouraging the productive use of forests using the principles of Sustainable Forest Management (SFM). Kant highlighted the potential for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation “plus” conservation, the sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD+) in mountain economies, but noted concerns with inter- and intra-community conflicts that might arise, particularly in areas with unclear property rights and unequal traditional governance structures.

SP Singh, Centre for Ecology Development and Research, India, highlighted the relevance of mountains to global biodiversity conservation, noting that mountains provide asylum to lowland species migrating under the influence of climate change. He also noted the relevance of valuing biodiversity-generating ecosystem services and incorporating them into various accounting systems to encourage local mountain communities to adopt conservation initiatives. Madhu Verma, Indian Institute of Forest Management, India, discussed examples of forest ecosystem services and explored the role of policy, institutional and market failures as a cause for the low appreciation of the economic value of these services.

In a presentation on governance options for sustainable mountain development, Matthias Jurek, UNEP, described a spectrum of existing approaches and initiatives for regional cooperation on transboundary mountain ranges, from legal to “soft” mechanisms. He stressed the importance of regional approaches as a tool for the promotion of a green economy, addressing mountain development and managing mountain ecosystems. Jurek noted the need for common targets and coordination, platforms for integrated ecosystem management for stakeholder interactions, and mechanisms for implementing global agreements on regional levels, and he added that such arrangements can contribute to sustainable development and to regional peace and stability. He also emphasized the need for greater “mountain-to-mountain cooperation” and the possibility for establishing regional approaches in other mountain regions.

PANEL DISCUSSIONS

MANAGING WATER FOR GREEN ECONOMY AND GREEN GROWTH: A parallel session on managing water for green economy and green growth was chaired by David Molden, Deputy Director General, International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and Director General designate, ICIMOD. In presentations and ensuing discussions, participants considered: governance and political agendas; policy and integrated water resource management (IWRM); management through water harvesting and in-stream storage; and designing effective PES. Governance was identified as a global, regional, and transboundary challenge, and was linked to poverty reduction. Several participants stressed the importance of a benefit-sharing rather than a resource-sharing approach to water governance. For in-stream storage and water harvesting, participants considered how to affect changes to water access and availability for mountain communities, especially through locally-appropriate technologies. Participants heard evidence that erosion and sedimentation, not runoff, were most affected by land use change in mountain regions, and that as a result, upstream land use changes might have the greatest effect on hydropower and reservoirs and PES schemes should be designed accordingly.

CARBON SERVICES IN MOUNTAIN ECOSYSTEMS: This panel was chaired by Gulam Mohammad Malikyar, National Environmental Protection Agency, Afghanistan. Lin Zhen, Chinese Academy of Sciences, highlighted that investment in forest carbon regimes can shift energy consumption patterns leading to higher greenhouse gas emissions. Promode Kant, Institute of Green Economy, India, highlighted the role of REDD and associated risks, and the challenges of balancing carbon, biodiversity and other ecosystem services. He noted that valuing biodiversity, given these challenges, could be an impossible task. He also stressed that free and prior informed consent has the potential of being exploited. Purnamit Dasgupta, Institute of Economic Growth, India, noted that adaptation costs should be built into mitigation and that non-market mechanisms for carbon services should be explored. Mohammad Hashim Barakzai discussed the role of rangelands in environmental services. He highlighted that the new Afghan National Plan for Management of Rangelands emphasizes the role of community-based rangeland management organizations.

MOUNTAIN BIODIVERSITY FOR PROMOTING GREEN ECONOMY: Myint Oo, University of Forestry, Myanmar, chaired this panel. Panelists discussed, inter alia, green economy and agrobiodiversity conservation for poverty reduction; policies and institutions focused on conserving mountain biodiversity; policy gaps; sustainable economic development based on the biological wealth of mountains; and community-based conservation. Participants highlighted the importance of making explicit the link between regional mountain biodiversity and global ecosystem integrity, including ecosystems in non-mountainous areas. They noted the lack of policy frameworks for compensating mountainous regions for the ecosystem services they provide. One participant noted the focus on floral and faunal biodiversity in the mountains, and lamented the relative lack of focus on microbial biodiversity, which he described as a potential source of diverse medicinal compounds. The economic potential of community-managed trophy hunting initiatives was discussed, as well as the economic benefits of improving hydropower transmission efficiency.

RECREATIONAL AND CULTURAL SERVICES FROM MOUNTAIN SYSTEMS: This panel was chaired by Ganesh Raj Joshi, Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation, Nepal. Panelists discussed, inter alia, policies and institutions for promoting mountain cultural and recreational services, ecotourism and green economy, and appraising recreational and cultural services from mountain systems. Participants discussed measures needed to bring the benefits of ecotourism to communities, such as: increased community involvement; more public-private partnerships; skill development in local communities; and marketing strategies targeted toward the promotion and branding of mountain products

VALUATION OF ECOSYSTEM SERVICES AND POLICIES FOR CREDITING THESE SERVICES: This panel was chaired by Gopal Kodekodi. The presenters and participants considered green accounting for promoting the green economy, with one presenter noting that regulating services constitutes one of the biggest challenges. They also explored: forests as a way to provide sustainable income for the poor; economic instruments for promoting green economy; and alternatives to conventional evaluation, with one highlighting the limitations of PES.

POVERTY, EQUITY AND SUSTAINABLE MOUNTAIN DEVELOPMENT: In the parallel session, chaired by Jorn Sorensen, Deputy Country Director, UNDP, Nepal, participants discussed: “bio-trade” involving trade in native biodiversity, goods and services; rural and local resources; food security and the vulnerability associated with biodiversity loss and environmental hazards; social equity in the green economy; and governance mechanisms for compensating mountain communities for protecting ecosystem services. They addressed the unfair distribution of the benefits from mountain ecosystem services, with one presenter pointing to the potential of non-forest timber products and tourism to generate benefits for communities. Noting that mountain communities are rich in resources but economically poor, another presenter explained the need for product diversification, and urged the consideration of the “Gross Environment Product (GEP)” to counterbalance GDP.

PERSPECTIVES FROM MOUNTAINS: REFLECTIONS

On Tuesday morning, participants reconvened to hear Andreas Schild, Director General, ICIMOD, provide a broad context for the mountain agenda and to reflect on the first day of the workshop. In describing key international events on mountains, Schild proposed raising the mountain agenda, explaining it had initially been developed from a science-, biophysical- and watershed development-focused perspective, and in the context of development approaches that were country, not ecosystem, based. He opined that the mountain agenda remained marginal in part because of failures to identify to non-mountain communities, what is important about mountains. Calling climate change adaptation an opportunity to highlight ecosystem-specific strategies and policies for development, he stressed the need to retain the low-carbon footprint of mountain systems while pursuing poverty reduction and sustainable development.

Reflecting on Monday’s meeting, Schild observed that discussions had not yet led to convergent conclusions. He highlighted, among other things, discussions on: benefit-sharing instead of resource-sharing; exaggerated expectations of the economic potential from carbon services; and mountains as an “asylum of biodiversity” for species migrating in response to climate change. He urged participants to continue work on: defining mountain development; agricultural modernization; expectations for public-private partnerships; and ways to quantify and communicate the value of ecosystem services. He expressed concern about promoting only self-sustained, rather than commercial, agriculture in mountain regions, worrying that this might condemn the regions to ongoing poverty. He also challenged participants to further debate the merits of developing an alternative indicator to GDP versus finding ways to include natural capital within GDP measures. Noting the consensus of participants on the value of mountain ecosystems, the need for institutional strengthening, and the elaboration of upstream-downstream relations, he stressed the underlying need to convince non-mountain people, and politicians with other priorities, of the importance of mountains to society as a whole.

key learning, experiences and messages from the asia-pacific mountain regions

Krishna Gyawali chaired this session. Madhav Karki, ICIMOD, outlined ICIMOD’s vision for Rio+20 and its commitment to sustain the process of poverty eradication and sustainable development while reducing the carbon footprint. He provided an overview of ICIMOD-led initiatives and case studies, including on medicinal plants, community-based natural resource management, community forestry and REDD+. He highlighted some key messages, including the importance of developing negotiation skills of stakeholders in and using REDD+ and PES to enhance property rights.

Naseer Ahmad Gillani, Pakistan Water Partnership, Pakistan, described his country’s priorities and the role the Pakistan’s mountains play in the country’s economy. He emphasized the importance of community-based trophy hunting for livelihoods and biodiversity conservation, the role of mountains in regulating water flows and the contribution of mountain regions like Baluchistan to food security and the export economy.

Naba Bikram Singh Tripura, Ministry of Chittagong Hill Tracts Affair, Bangladesh, described his country’s experiences with ensuring and furthering political representation for and recognition of mountain communities.

BMS Rathore, Ministry of Environment and Forests, India, encouraged examining institutions, policies, markets and finance to maintain the green nature of mountain economies while promoting poverty reduction. He noted that although institutional fragmentation ought to be avoided, as long as they share common goals and visions, diverse institutional landscapes are needed to address the diversity of mountain systems.

In discussions, one participant lamented the undervaluation of goods produced by mountain agriculture, and another called for greater attention to the role of youth. Participants also commented on, among other things: scaling up best practices and regional examples; benefit-sharing and green job creation; resource rights and community roles in protecting forests; and ongoing conflicts in mountain areas, including those linked to land submergence from hydropower projects.

GROUP WORK

Session chair Madhu Verma introduced the group work sessions, explaining the task of revising and refining the International Conference Background Paper for submission to the Rio+20 process. She encouraged groups to propose toolkits and calculators for assessing the value of mountain ecosystem services, and also urged participants to think beyond a low-carbon economy when addressing a green economy, to address other environmental concerns.

IDENTIFICATION OF ISSUES AND CHALLENGES IN PROMOTING A GREEN ECONOMY IN MOUNTAIN REGIONS: This session was chaired by Sara Ahmed, IDRC. Participants lamented the lack of discussion on equity issues and reflected on social relations of power, identifying other gaps and oversights, opportunities provided through transboundary conservation and the lack of public awareness, communication, lack of capacity and modern technologies. Some lamented the absence of community participation and called for greater institutional support and leadership to promote the green economy agenda. One participant reflected on youth and migration, and the possible benefits of migration. Others suggested investment opportunities that can create incentives for youth to return to their mountain communities. A participant highlighted the unintended consequences of a green economy, such as increasing workloads and the risk of creating gender-imbalances.

IDENTIFICATION OF THE POTENTIALS AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR SUSTAINABLE MOUNTAIN DEVELOPMENT IN THE CONTEXT OF THE GREEN ECONOMY: The group, chaired by Promode Kant, focused on what was missing in workshop discussions so far. Many underscored the disconnect between benefit and resource flows, from and to the mountains. Several underlined the unrealized potentials of pastures in a market economy.  They also looked at REDD+ and capacity building for communities as opportunities for further mountain development and discussed the energy potential of mountain regions, including from harnessing hydropower.

HOW TO CREATE ENABLING CONDITIONS FOR PROMOTING GREEN ECONOMY FOR SUSTAINABLE MOUNTAIN DEVELOPMENT: Session chair Priya Shyamsundar guided the discussions with several questions, which, with modification by participants, focused on how to facilitate regional coordination, reduce the undervaluation of mountain ecosystem services and support diversification of mountain economies. On regional cooperation, some interventions focused on inter-regional trade, with some participants debating the merits and challenges of certification systems. While participants agreed on the need for a regional vision, several proposed that efforts be focused on existing bilateral arrangements, and on strengthening existing institutions rather than creating new ones. Safe minimum standards were proposed to help with valuation of mountain goods and services, with some proposing seeking financing for valuation studies. Ideas for supporting the diversification of mountain economies included: creating zoning policies and infrastructure hubs to enable investment; including gender considerations in support for specific sectors; recognizing barriers specific to mountain regions, such as the lack of economies of scale and limited availability of credit; and the need to consider local markets when promoting commercial agriculture.

IDENTIFICATION OF PRINCIPLES AND ACTIONS THAT DEMAND PRIORITY IN THE GLOBAL GREEN ECONOMY AND RIO+20: Participants in the session, chaired by Eklabya Sharma, ICIMOD, revisited the content of the mountain agenda developed at the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development, to determine how to update and identify the priorities for Rio+20. They deliberated on two lists, one identifying the central principles, and the other focused on actions, to guide the development of a green economy. The group agreed that poverty reduction must be the central principle, with one noting that country-based poverty reduction strategies often do not include mountain-specific perspectives. Other principles proposed by participants included: integrating flexibility into policy and planning to address dynamism and uncertainty; prioritizing resilience and the reduction of vulnerability over economic considerations alone; and inculcating the principles of local economies in the green economy. The actions proposed were to, inter alia: develop urban services in rural areas; intensify monitoring and evaluation and monitoring, reporting and verification; consider immediate resource depletion; and liberalize trade and services for mountain regions for the green economy and local economies.

REFLECTIONS FROM THE REPRESENTATIVES OF OTHER MOUNTAIN REGIONS OF THE WORLD

In this session, chaired by Olman Serrano, Mountain Partnership Secretariat, panelists presented on their regions and participants commented on their interventions. Miguel Saravia, Consorcio para el Desarrollo Sostenible de la Ecorregion Andina, Peru, discussed developments in the Andean region. He questioned how the proposals for the green economy agenda could contribute to addressing the challenges in his region. He suggested making the concept of green economy “more operational,” and wondered how to develop a concept that reflects many different contexts and scenarios. One participant asked how far a low-carbon economy can be promoted and what are the consequences for mountains, such as in the Andes, where the extraction industry is present.

Matthias Jurek emphasized the importance of mountain areas as social, natural and economic capital, and the role biodiversity plays in many of them. He also underscored the supportive role the European Union provides in the field of green economy. In response to some comments, he underscored that in some mountain areas, mining is an important activity and thus there are efforts to promote more responsible mining practices.

Presenting perspectives from the Middle East, Reginald Victor, Sultan Qaboos University, Oman, spoke about the green economy in the context of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region fossil-fuel dominated “brown economy.” He explained that mountain livelihoods have improved in MENA’s mountain regions, but that this has been the product of subsidies from the non-mountain brown economy, rather than developments in green economies of the mountain areas. Describing the regions’ inadequate investment in the natural capital of mountains, the absence of hydropower capacity, and the greater investment required for green than the brown economy, he recommended increasing support and incentives for green initiatives and investments in green technology.

Noting that this year represents the 20th anniversary of independence of former Soviet states, Chad Dear, University of Central Asia, Kyrgyz Republic, explained that mountain issues in Central Asia are framed by the political, economic and social transitions that accompanied independence. Pointing to economic contraction, land reform and redistribution, and the cessation of resource provision to mountain areas by the centralized government as examples of challenges that have particularly affected mountainous regions, he said that mountain regions have had high levels of labour migration and are highly reliant on remittances. He lauded the message of internalizing externalities to reflect the true cost of resources, but highlighted the challenges of negotiating PES and other compensation mechanisms across borders, especially in the context of increasing nationalism and political and economic conflict.

Luca Listo, Evk2 CNR, highlighted his organization’s activities in Nepal and high-altitude monitoring stations across different regions. Noting the levels of pollution in high-altitude areas, which he said are on occasion as high as in urban areas, he stressed the importance of focusing on what green economy means.

DRAWING KEY MESSAGES AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Andreas Schild highlighted proposed workshop recommendations, including that: benefits deriving from mountains be recognized, captured and valued; global, regional and national mechanisms be established to compensate mountain communities for their role in providing benefits; governments create an enabling environment for promoting green economy and encouraging investment; governments create mechanisms to improve markets for mountain ecosystem services such as hydropower and ecotourism; regional collaborations be prioritized; and transition to green economy be supported by policy changes, including for sharing knowledge and technologies.

Many participants suggested that some of the recommendations should be more specific.

INAUGURATION OF THE CONFERENCE

On Tuesday evening, Naina Shakya, ICIMOD, welcomed participants to the Conference, explaining the goal of the meeting is to ensure that mountain systems, especially the HKH region, is accorded consideration in global green economy debates.

Noting that deliberations were held over the past two days on the meaning of sustainable mountain development and the role of mountains in the green economy, Andreas Schild, Director General, ICIMOD, stressed the need for evidence to convey the importance of mountains to non-mountain communities.

The Right Honourable President of the Republic of Nepal, Ram Baran Yadav, then lit the Panas (a Nepali traditional candle), to inaugurate the Conference.

Calling the meeting “important and timely,” Robert Piper, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nepal, outlined areas relevant to mountain development for policy development and action, including improving valuation of ecosystem services and expanding access to modern energy services.

Golam Rasul provided an overview of the workshop and its recommendations, including the shared view that mountains provide benefits that go beyond mountains.

Pema Gyamtsho, Honourable Minister for Agriculture and Forests, Bhutan, commended ICIMOD for organizing the workshop and encouraged participants to have “green minds, green hands and green hearts” so that when they return to their home countries they can encourage a greener path. President Baran Yadav congratulated ICIMOD for organizing the workshop and for its contribution to research that helps inform Nepal’s policies. He also urged that mountains be included in the Rio+20 deliberations. He noted that highlands and lowlands are economically and environmentally interlinked, as well as transboundary in nature. Madhav Karki, ICIMOD, concluded the opening of the Conference by proposing a “vote of thanks.”

PRESENTATION OF KEY MESSAGES AND RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE GREEN ECONOMY WORKSHOP

On Wednesday morning, Andreas Schild, ICIMOD, introduced a session to present the key messages and recommendations from the two-day Workshop to the Conference.

Yuba Raj Bhusal, Member Secretary, National Planning Commission, Nepal, outlined the structure of the workshop, highlighting, among other things, its objective of enhancing the understanding of the scope and relevance of the green economy and recognition of mountain ecosystem services in policy decisions. He presented a synthesis of messages that had emerged, including that: mountains are global natural assets; the value of ecosystem services is not adequately recognized and captured in decision-making and GDP; cumbersome processes of international instruments like REDD+ need to be improved; and there is a disconnect between the flow of resources and services out of and into mountain regions. He stressed that a green mountain economy must be based on equity, inclusive growth and the provision of benefits to poor people.

PANEL DISCUSSION WITH KEY STAKEHOLDERS FROM MOUNTAIN REGIONS AND INTERNATIONAL AGENCIES

The workshop summary was followed by a panel discussion with key stakeholders from mountain regions and international agencies, chaired by Thomas Gass, Ambassador of Switzerland to Nepal. Calling green economy the “new buzzword,” and pointing to past trends in the international community to frame their efforts in terms of sustainable development, environmental protection, poverty reduction and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), he encouraged participants to articulate how mountains are relevant to a green economy to gain a voice at Rio+20. Introducing the panelists, he charged them with the task of identifying opportunities and challenges for mountain development in view of Rio+20, and providing key messages they would like to see reflected in the Rio+20 outcome document.

Challenging participants to clarify their expectations of what would change if mountains were reflected in Rio+20 outcomes, MF Farooqui, Ministry of Environment and Forests, India, proposed that the message from mountain community should be that mountain communities have solutions for global problems. He also underscored the need for providing a scientific and economic basis for including mountains in policy, and for the identification of local solutions and initiatives to address markets, improve value chains, build capacity and create upstream and downstream linkages. Pema Gyamtsho highlighted that the message contained in Chapter 13 on mountains of Agenda 21 is highly relevant in today’s context. Wang Yi, Chinese Academy of Sciences, highlighted some in-country experiences relevant to sustainable mountain development. Arzu Deuba Rana, Constituent Assembly, Nepal, emphasized that one of the outputs she would like to see emerge from Rio+20 is a convention on mountains.

Olman Serrano, Mountain Partnership Secretariat, highlighted some of the Secretariat’s activities and the importance of influencing the Rio+20 Co-Chairs’ “compilation document” by providing the inputs of this workshop. He asked participants to help in this process by reaching out to member countries and those responsible for the preparation of this document. He also highlighted the three regional meetings being organized in Central Asia.

In discussions, panelists and participants commented on, among other things: support for the upscaling and implementation of successful initiatives; mechanisms for incorporating mountain region inputs into the Rio+20 process; mountain-related statements adopted by the UN General Assembly; and the potential contributions of the Mountain Partnership. Several reiterated the need for collecting and communicating scientific support for the submissions made by mountain communities, and one emphasized the role of social as well as natural sciences in this process. One representative from the Andean region encouraged providing evidence not only of mountain contributions to the world but also of the external forces threatening the capacity of mountain ecosystem to provide these services.

Gass then asked participants to reflect on how mountain communities can become actors in Rio+20 rather than victims of climate change. One participant noted that having a chapter on mountains as an outcome of Rio+20 may not be enough and integrating mountains into other issues, such as water and energy, might have a greater political impact.

WAY FORWARD: SUSTAINABLE MOUNTAIN DEVELOPMENT AND RIO+20

On Wednesday afternoon, Andreas Schild, ICIMOD, introduced the session on the way forward for sustainable mountain development and Rio+20.

Stressing the need for concrete and focused contributions from the mountain community, Olman Serrano, Coordinator, Mountain Partnership Secretariat, described a current short draft document from the Partnership that would be circulated, and told participants about the upcoming Lucerne World Mountain Conference in October, in Switzerland, as an initiative on the path to Rio+20.

Schild invited Langston James “Kimo” Goree, International Institute for Sustainable Development, to suggest ways to bring the mountain agenda to the attention of the UN Secretary-General for his high-level report on sustainable development for Rio+20.

Schild then introduced representatives from the HKH and other mountain regions, international agencies and scientists to contribute additional perspectives on the mountain agenda.

Miguel Saravia stressed the need to bring mountain issues into other discussions, including on energy, water, food security, land planning and industrial development, given both the effects on and the potential of mountain communities to provide solutions to many of the world’s problems.

Chad Dear, drew attention to his institution’s participation in mountain partnerships, and, saying a “united voice in this effort is a stronger voice,” commented that mountain areas share more commonalities than differences.

Amir Muhammed, Evk2 CNR, called poverty alleviation and resource conservation the two central issues of the green economy, and urged resource use efficiency to lessen the pressure on mountain resources and increase incomes in mountain communities.

From the HKH region, Naseer Gillani suggested that mountain issues might be most effectively brought into the Rio+20 process through national reports. Purushottam Ghimire, Nepal National Planning Commission, Nepal, called mountains the top priority in the HKH region, and pointed to financing as the central challenge to sustainable mountain development.

Zhen Lin noted that participants have a common understanding of the value of mountain ecosystem services and that instead of focusing on problems in this area it might be more productive to focus on solutions. Schild recommended using the language of the global community, providing evidence-based information of the value of mountains to the world, and assessing the value of mountain goods and services, though in ways not limited to monetary terms. Mohammad Malikyar noted his country’s willingness to support the recommendations of this International Conference. Sara Ahmed discussed the role of cross-regional collaborations as well as interdisciplinary partnerships, noting that the resulting research helps build a better understanding of the issues and problems. Subroto Roy, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), highlighted the absence of strong tools to measure ecosystem services. Vijaya Singh, UNDP, discussed opportunities for supporting ICIMOD’s work in Nepal and outline more broadly UNDP’s interests in areas, such as renewable energy, PES and climate risk management.

SP Singh highlighted the importance of physical interlinkages between physical processes and human activities, as well as the importance of mountains to biodiversity. Bhupesh Adhikary, Evk2 CNR, highlighted the need for more long-term data on mountains.

KATHMANDU DECLARATION ON GREEN ECONOMY AND SUSTAINABLE MOUNTAIN DEVELOPMENT

Madhav Karki, ICIMOD, presented the draft “Kathmandu Declaration on Green Economy and Sustainable Mountain Development,” and Andreas Schild led discussion among participants on its content, noting that the declaration would be finalized the following week to provide time for additional comments to be submitted in writing. He reminded participants to focus on issues linked to the green economy, rather than attempting to outline a comprehensive strategy for rural development.

On the preamble, one participant recommended using more positive language, pointing to successful experiences in mountain region development and suggesting the need to build on these successes. Some commented on the need to refer specifically to poverty alleviation, vulnerability and resilience.

They also discussed, inter alia: reference to a range of financial services, including crop insurance; health issues in mountain communities; low-carbon production systems; and qualifying the types of technology referred to, as not all technologies are sustainable or mountain-appropriate.

Following deliberations, and encouragement to provide further input within a few days, the Conference applauded the adoption of the draft declaration.

In the Declaration participants recommend, inter alia, that:

  • Benefits deriving from mountains need to be recognized, valued, and captured based on scientific evidence, reliable data and information, and existing good practices;
  • Global, regional, national and local mechanisms need to be established and/or strengthened to compensate and reward mountain communities for the services they provide;
  • Governments, civil society organizations, and development partners should create an enabling environment for promoting green economy and encouraging investment in mountain regions;
  • Governments should create favourable conditions for improving markets for mountain ecosystem goods and services;
  • Networks, partnerships and regional collaboration should be promoted to ensure sustainable development.
  • An integrated ecosystem-based management approach is carried out;
  • Approaches to green economy in mountains will differ according to local conditions and must be context appropriate;
  • A green economy in mountains needs to be based on equity, inclusive growth, and ensuring that benefits reach poor people;
  • It is necessary to improve and ensure access to resources and property rights for mountain women, indigenous communities, and marginalized groups, and to strengthen their role in resource governance and their voice in decision making; and
  • Traditional knowledge and practices need to be documented, evaluated, and built upon to solve local problems.

CLOSING REMARKS

Mathias Jurek, UNEP, urged the mainstreaming of the outcomes of the International Conference in the Rio+20 preparatory process. Andreas Schild, ICIMOD, highlighted that this is the first time that there is an opportunity to mainstream mountain conservation and sustainable development concerns. Eklabaya Sharma, ICIMOD, thanked the participants of the Workshop and Conference. The meeting closed at 4:45 pm.

UPCOMING MEETINGS

Seventh “Environment for Europe” Ministerial Conference: The Seventh “Environment for Europe” Ministerial Conference, convened by the UN Economic Commission for Europe (ECE, or UNECE) Committee on Environmental Policy, is being prepared in accordance with the provisions of Reform Plan of the “Environment for Europe” process. This Conference will consider two main themes: “the sustainable management of water and water-related ecosystems” and “greening the economy: mainstreaming the environment into economic development.” While the Astana Ministerial Conference is expected to address identified environmental issues of common concern in the UNECE region, the Conference provides an opportunity to address priority environmental issues in the Central Asian sub-region.  dates: 21-23 September 2011   venue: Independence Palace   location: Astana, Kazakhstan   contact: Ministry of Environmental Protection   phone: +7 7172 74 00 09   fax: +7 7172 74 07 77   e-mail:anara_bulzhanova@eco.gov.kz www: http://www.unece.org/env/efe/Astana/welcome.html

Conference on the Green Economy and Sustainable Development: Bringing Back the Social Dimension: The UN Research Institute for Social Development will host this conference that will examine: the social impacts and distributional consequences of policies and processes associated with green economy; the potential and limits of structural and institutional change; and agency and social mobilization for institutional and policy change.  dates: 10-11 October 2011  location: Geneva, Switzerland  contact: Kiah Smith, UNRISD email: smith@unrisd.org www: http://www.unrisd.org/

UNCSD Regional Preparatory Meeting for Africa: The UN Economic Commission for Africa and partners will convene an African regional preparatory meeting for the UNCSD (Rio+20). dates: 10-14 October 2011  location: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia  contact: UNCSD Secretariat  email: uncsd2012@un.org www: http://www.uncsd2012.org/rio20/index.php?menu=26

Lucerne World Mountain Conference: This Conference will present and discuss regional and global experience in mountain development since Rio 1992. It will identify challenges and opportunities for the future of global sustainable mountain development. The results of the Conference will produce insights that will feed into initiatives and events such as the UN Secretary General’s High-level Panel on Global Sustainability (GSP), the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) Rio 2012, and the CSD biennal cycle 20/21 in 2013 and 2014 where mountains will be one of the five priority themes, as well as into other global sustainable development processes. Among the themes debated will be the role, in mountains, of green economy and institutional frameworks for sustainable development and poverty alleviation. dates: 11-12 October 2011 location: Lucerne, Switzerland contact: Mountain Partnership Secretariat e-mail: mountains_lucerne2011@deza.admin.ch www: http://www.mtnforum.org/en/content/lucerne-world-mountain-conference

Sharing Green Economy Best Practices Towards Rio+20: The Polish Ministry of the Environment is organizing a high-level conference aimed at consultation between EU member states and key countries in the process of preparing for the Rio+20 conference.  date: 11 October 2011  location: Warsaw, Poland  contact: Agnieszka Kozłowska-Korbicz (Ministry of the Environment)  phone: +48-22-57-92-855  email: agnieszka.kozlowska-korbicz@mos.gov.pl  www: http://pl2011.eu/en/content/sharing-green-economy-best-practices-towards-rio20?mini=calendar%2F2011-10

UNCSD Regional Preparatory Meeting in the Arab Region: The UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia and partners will convene an Arab regional meeting in preparation for the UNCSD. dates: 16-17 October 2011 location: Cairo, Egypt  contact: UNCSD Secretariat  email: uncsd2012@un.org www: http://www.uncsd2012.org/rio20/index.php?menu=26

UNCSD Regional Preparatory Meeting in the Asia-Pacific Region: The UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific and partners will convene a regional meeting in preparation for the UNCSD. dates: 19-20 October 2011 location: Seoul, Republic of Korea  contact: UNCSD Secretariat email: uncsd2012@un.org www: http://www.uncsd2012.org/rio20/index.php?menu=26  

UNEP FI Global Roundtable 2011: Organized by the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative, this meeting will convene under the theme “The tipping point: Sustained stability in the next economy.” The 2011 Roundtable aims to provide a platform for the global financial sector to define what it expects to achieve at UNCSD. dates: 19-20 October 2011  location: Washington, DC  contact: Cecilia Serin  fax: +41-22-796-9240  email: roundtable@unepfi.org www: http://www.unepfi.org/washington

Bonn 2011 Conference: The Conference on “Water, Energy and Food Security Nexus: Solutions for the Green Economy” organized by the German government, pursues two objectives: to develop cross-sector solutions for achieving water, energy and food security; and to position the interface of water, energy and food security within the discourse of the Rio+20 process and green economy.  dates: 16-18 November 2011  location: Bonn, Germany  contact: Ms. Imke Thiem, Secretariat  phone: +49-6196-79-1547 email: bonn.conference2011@giz.de www: http://www.water-energy-food.org/

UNCSD Regional Preparatory Meeting for ECE Region: The UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) will convene a regional meeting in preparation for the UNCSD. dates: 1-2 December 2011  location: Geneva, Switzerland  contact: UNCSD Secretariat  email: uncsd2012@un.org  www:  http://www.uncsd2012.org/rio20/index.php?menu=26

Mountain Day at UNFCCC COP 17: Mountain Day 2011 is being organized by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the Mountain Partnership Consortium, and will seek to highlight the critical role of mountain ecosystems for climate adaptation and sustainable development. It will be held during the 17th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 17) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), scheduled to take place in Durban, South Africa, at the end of 2011. The event will assemble a high-level panel to advocate the value and role of mountains and call on COP 17 delegates and global development partners to act to save vital mountain ecosystems from the vagaries of climate change. It will also issue policy messages and recommendations relevant to the deliberations at COP 17.  

date: 4 December 2011   venue: The Breakers Resort, 88 Lagoon Drive, Umhlanga Rocks, KwaZulu Natal, 4321   location: Durban (Kwazulu-Natal), South Africa   contact: Madhav Karki   phone: +977 1 5003222   fax: +977 1 5003299   e-mail: mountainday@icimod.org   www: http://www.icimod.org/?q=3895  

Second Intersessional Meeting for UNCSD: The second intersessional meeting for the UNCSD will be convened in late 2011.  dates: 15-16 December 2011  location: UN Headquarters, New York  contact: UNCSD Secretariat  email: uncsd2012@un.org www: http://www.uncsd2012.org/rio20/index.php?menu=25

Third Intersessional Meeting for UNCSD: The final intersessional meeting for the UNCSD will be convened in March 2012. dates: 26-27 March 2012  location: UN Headquarters, New York  contact: UNCSD Secretariat  email: uncsd2012@un.org www: http://www.uncsd2012.org/rio20/index.php?menu=25

Third PrepCom for UNCSD: The third meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the UNCSD will take place in Brazil just prior to the conference.  dates: 28-30 May 2012  location: Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.  contact: UNCSD Secretariat  email: uncsd2012@un.org www: http://www.uncsd2012.org/

UN Conference on Sustainable Development: The UNCSD will mark the 20th anniversary of the UN Conference on Environment and Development, which convened in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  dates: 4-6 June 2012  location: Rio De Janeiro, Brazil  contact: UNCSD Secretariat  email: uncsd2012@un.org  www: http://www.uncsd2012.org/

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The Summary Report of the International Conference on Green Economy and Sustainable Mountain Development: Opportunities and Challenges in View of Rio+20 is a publication of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) <info@iisd.ca>, publishers of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin © <enb@iisd.org>. This issue was written and edited by Kate Harris, Kate Neville, and Tanya Rosen. The Editor is Liz Willetts <liz@iisd.org>. The Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI <kimo@iisd.org>. Funding for coverage of this meeting has been provided by the International Development Research Centre. IISD can be contacted at 161 Portage Avenue East, 6th Floor, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 0Y4, Canada; tel: +1-204-958-7700; fax: +1-204-958-7710. The opinions expressed in the Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD. Excerpts from the Bulletin may be used in other publications with appropriate academic citation. Electronic versions of the Bulletin are sent to e-mail distribution lists (in HTML and PDF format) and can be found on the Linkages WWW-server at <http://www.iisd.ca/>. For information on the Bulletin, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services at <kimo@iisd.org>, +1-646-536-7556 or 300 East 56th St., 11D, New York, New York 10022, United States of America.

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