Mountain Youth’s Appeal to Rio+20 Delegates

We, the participants of the Mountain Pavilion event on Global Youth Forum on Mountain Issues and Sustainable Actions, considering also key messages received from the 6th World Youth Congress, Rio+20 Dialogues, the Major Group on Children and Youth’s (MGCY) Youth Blast Conference, and regional youth vibrations in the Asia-Pacific, Africa, South, Central, and North America, and Europe, hereby appeal to the Rio+20 stakeholders with the following points:

  1. We recognize that the benefits derived from mountain regions are essential for sustainable development; that mountain ecosystems play a crucial role in providing water and other ecosystem resources to a large portion of the world’s population; that fragile mountain ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change, deforestation and forest degradation, biodiversity loss, land use and land cover change, and natural disasters; and that mountain glaciers around the world are retreating and getting thinner with increasing impacts on the environment and human wellbeing.

  2. We further recognize that mountains are often home to communities, including indigenous people and poor communities, who have developed sustainable ways of using mountain resources. They are, however, often marginalized and lack access to education and support services. We therefore stress that continued effort will be required to address poverty, food security and nutrition, social exclusion, and environmental degradation in these areas, and invite States to strengthen cooperative action with effective involvement and sharing of experiences of all relevant stakeholders by establishing new or strengthening existing regional arrangements and canters of competence for sustainable mountain development. We call for greater efforts toward the conservation of mountain ecosystems, including their biodiversity, as a foundation for green economy. We encourage States to adopt a long-term vision and holistic approaches, including through incorporating mountain-specific policies into national sustainable development strategies which could include, inter alia, poverty reduction plans and programmes in mountain areas, particularly in developing countries.

In order to effectively tackle these issues and promote sustainable mountain development, youth populations, who are now facing an uncertain future due to lack of employment, gainful education, healthcare, and other infrastructures, need to be fully mainstreamed in the development process. For this, we appeal to the Rio+20 delegates, parties, and concerned agencies to:

  1. Properly recognize the critical role played by mountain ecosystems and mountain people in sustaining the world’s environment and economies by providing or sustaining water resources, biodiversity, landscapes, cultures, dialects, etc., that are essential for upstream as well as downstream sustainability;

  2. Justly compensate and reward mountain communities for their good environmental stewardship in managing environmental goods and services;

  3. Equitably share benefits among different populations, including children, youth, women, and the elderly, by promoting regional, national, and intergenerational partnerships for sustainable development;

  4. Rationally develop and improve environmental governance systems ensuring maximum inclusion of these groups and, most importantly, mainstreaming youth in the development processes – from planning to implementation and strategic decision making;

  5. Efficiently develop and run institutional mechanisms offering opportunities for youth to get basic education as well as higher education relevant to applied fields and existing development practices; to develop their professional capacity; to start enterprises and businesses which create green jobs in a responsible manner in fields like ecotourism, waste management, energy generation, etc.; and to be part of social, economic, and environmental processes;

  6. Timely develop Youth Councils at the global/UN level (e.g., the UN Conference on Sustainable Development Major Group for Children and Youth (UNCSD-MGCY); the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Youth NGO Constituency (UNFCCC-YOUNGO); and UNEP-TUNZA (the children and youth programme of UNEP) as well as regional levels, and to promote a youth knowledge network and parliament at national/regional levels to significantly improve youth engagement in various processes and activities of sustainable development; and

  7. Develop provisions for a Green Youth Fund to work on mountain issues, and also ensure existing mechanisms have funding windows for mountain youth at UN, regional, and national levels to promote environmental entrepreneurship promoting green economy for sustainable development and poverty eradication.