The Mountain Partnership, launched at the World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD) in 2002, is a broad alliance of countries, intergovernmental organizations and major groups working towards improving the lives of mountain people and protecting mountain environments around the world. The Merano Conference in October 2003 was a landmark event for the Mountain Partnership: it was the first global meeting of members and a unique forum in which to identify common needs, priorities and concerns and to explore key issues related to the structure, membership and governance of the Partnership.
The two-day Conference, organized by the Government of Italy, attracted some 150 delegates from four continents. Participants delivered key statements and presentations on key mountain-related issues, including environment, poverty, local knowledge, science, research and training, regional cooperation, gender, sport and tourism. Delegates agreed that the wealth and scope of current mountain networks were a solid foundation from which to tap the essential knowledge, skills and expertise needed to create diverse and active partnerships for lasting mountain development.
Importantly, the Conference endorsed 'Guiding Principles' , including the decision that FAO will host a Secretariat to support the Mountain Partnership. And at the close of the Conference, participants produced a set of Conclusions which are set to guide future membership, governance and action.
The Interim Partnership Secretariat at FAO has recently distributed a short questionnaire to members, aimed at gathering information about key priorities and identifying what each member can bring to the Mountain Partnership in terms of relevant expertise, knowledge, skills and activities.
This information will be used to develop "partnership initiatives", based on specific thematic or geographic areas of interest. News about building these initiatives will be available shortly.