Talking mountain partnership in Turkey


The new Mountain Partnership (MP) Strategy and Governance document (2014 – 2017) was endorsed at the Fourth Global Meeting of the Mountain Partnership in Erzurum, Turkey. 

At the three-day meeting, held from 17 to 19 September 2013, participants discussed a wide range of mountain-related issues like the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and regional coordination mechanisms. While thematic working groups considered how to put the MP into practice, parallel regional meetings deliberated opportunities and challenges in the region. 

There were partnership fairs in the afternoon of 18 and 19 September, and on 19 September the participants selected members to the Steering Committee of the MP. About 110 participants from governments, academia, research institutions, intergovernmental organizations, and civil societies attended the meeting.

Dr Eklabya Sharma of ICIMOD chairs a plenary session at the MP Forum (on his left is the coordinator of MP Secretariat Thomas Hofer). Photo: Gopilal Acharya

Director Programmes Dr Eklabya Sharma and Communications Specialist Gopilal Acharya represented the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) at the meeting. 

Dr Eklabya Sharma facilitated the parallel regional meeting of the Asia-Pacific region on Tuesday evening. The meeting looked at challenges and opportunities for the Asia-Pacific members of the MP. The group, representing Central Asia, the HKH region, Southeat Asia, and the Pacific, defined common priority areas for action and discussed regional coordination mechanisms and support mechanisms that they would like to avail from the MP Secretariat.

Other issues discussed included: developing climate change resilience in communities; disaster risk reduction; biodiversity conservation and management; conflict resolution over natural resources; investments in agriculture and water; and information, knowledge, and technology sharing. 

The Group agreed that the current classification of regions does not cover all mountain regions and should be revised by the Secretariat. They said the region classified as Asia-Pacific was too broad to call for a single representation. They said at least four geographic representations must be recognized for the region.

On Tuesday afternoon, Gopilal Acharya spoke at the Partnership Fair. He talked about the evolution of ICIMOD as a very important intergovernmental organization representing the eight member countries of the Hindu Kush Himalayas. He highlighted ICIMOD’s activities, strategic framework, organizational structure, its partners, and regional cooperation and opportunities. 

At the Fair, ICIMOD disseminated some of its seminal publications to the participants. Information on the upcoming Poverty Conference in December 2013 was also widely disseminated.

Dr Eklabya Sharma again took the stage on Wednesday morning during the plenary session “Regional coordination mechanism: Sharing experiences from Europe and the Himalayas” where he spoke on the professional journey of ICIMOD. He highlighted the dramatic impacts of climate change in the Himalayas, including cryosphere thinning and glacial shrinking. 

Dr Eklabya Sharma explained why poverty is higher in mountain regions than in the lowlands. He spoke about the gendered migration in the Himalayas, with men leaving to seek opportunities elsewhere, leaving women behind, what he called as ‘feminization of the mountains’. He also gave examples of success case stories, especially the impact the well managed community forests have had in the process of natural regeneration. 

A participant asked how ICIMOD had managed to transform degraded lands into productive ecosystems in Nepal. Dr Eklabya Sharma observed that the actions of various stakeholders and local communities had helped, along with the engagement of forestry user groups.

In the afternoon of 19 September, Dr Eklabya Sharma chaired a plenary session called ‘Putting the MP into practice’ to discuss and endorse the roadmap and biennial work plan based on the outputs developed by the six working – advocacy, joint action, knowledge management and communication, capacity development and technology transfer, innovation, and resource mobilization.

Another important session that saw an animated exchange of opinions among the participants was the discussion on mountains in Rio+20 and the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals. At the session, Thomas Hofer of MP Secretariat provided an overview of the Rio+20 and Post-2015 process. He recalled the inclusion of mountain paragraphs in the outcome document of the Rio+20 conference, The Future We Want, and said that the main goal now is to ensure that mountain concerns are kept in the ongoing SDGs discussion. 

On Thursday afternoon, participants selected the 16 Steering Committee members. ICIMOD was elected to represent the civil society members for Asia and the Pacific. On the same day, the ‘Erzurum Conclusions’ were agreed by participants. Participants went on a field trip to Uzundere Ulubağ plateau and the Tortum waterfall on 20 September.

Meanwhile, Thomas Hofer, the interim coordinator of the Mountain Partnership (MP) Secretariat and former ICIMOD staff, was unanimously elected the permanent coordinator.