FAO DG calls for action to prioritise mountains at Expo

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The MPP Initiative will be on display at Expo from 2 December 2021 to 2 January 2022…reports Asian Lite News

Urgent action is needed to prioritise mountain ecosystems in order to protect them from the current climate crisis and empower mountain people to build resilient livelihoods, FAO Director-General QU Dongyu said today at Expo 2020 Dubai.

The Director-General was speaking in a video message to the event ‘Reaching for the stars: Sustainable and climate resilient mountain development’, taking place as part of Expo 2020’s Climate and Biodiversity Week.

Expo 2020

Mountains provide freshwater, regulate the climate and conserve biodiversity, while contributing to sustaining the livelihoods of 1.1 billion people living in mountains as well as many more living in the lowlands.

However, fragile mountain ecosystems and mountain communities are among the most vulnerable to climate change and land degradation, with some 346 million rural mountain people in developing countries at risk of hunger.

“The climate crisis is making mountains and mountain communities ever-more fragile,” Qu said. “They must be at the center of our decision-making processes. We need solutions and innovations that respect values, cultures and traditions.”

Qu called for collective actions to combat land degradation, adapt to climate change, strengthen agri-food value chains and promote economic development, which he said are fundamental to reducing food insecurity, alleviating poverty and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

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The Director-General also pledged that FAO would help to scale up sustainable mountain development through the Mountain Partnership, by advocating for mountains in United Nations processes, promoting sustainable food systems in mountainous regions, and building local economies through the promotion of mountain products and services.

Co-curated by the Government of Italy, the Mountain Partnership Secretariat at FAO, and the Aga Khan Development Network, the daylong event examined ways to enhance the resilience of mountain communities, livelihoods and ecosystems to galvanize action in line with the SDGs.

The Mountain Partnership Products (MPP) Initiative is one of two FAO projects selected for Expo 2021 Dubai’s Global Best Practice Programme out of 1,175 submissions from around the world.

Expo 2020

The Global Best Practice Programme showcases projects that have provided tangible solutions to the world’s biggest challenges, highlighting simple but effective initiatives that localize the SDGs and can be adapted, replicated and scaled to achieve an enhanced global impact.

With the backing of FAO and funded by the Italian Development Cooperation, the MPP Initiative is a certification and labelling scheme for traditional mountain products to strengthen the resilience of mountain peoples, their economies and their environments.

Currently, the initiative works across eight countries – Bolivia, India, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Panama, Peru and the Philippines – and involves around 10 000 farmers, 60 percent of whom are women. Twenty products currently carry the MPP Initiative label, including a stingless bee honey from the Bolivian Andes and pink and purple rice cultivated by farmers in India’s Himalayas, as well as tea, coffee, pulses and textiles.

Mountain farmers and producers have seen sales increases of up to 49 percent, production increases of up to 40 percent, and selling prices increase by up to 25 percent as a result of the initiative.

A new phase of the initiative was recently approved by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, securing funding for the project until 2024 and expanding it to Pacific Small Island Developing States.

The MPP Initiative will be on display at Expo from 2 December 2021 to 2 January 2022.