Finding common ground at Cusco
The former Inca capital of Cusco in the Peruvian Andes was the dramatic backdrop for the 'Cusco Conference' (28 -29 October 2004), an event which attracted 126 participants from national governments, intergovernmental agencies, NGOs and major groups from as far afield as Kenya, Switzerland, the Philippines and Nepal.
The two-day Conference featured a series of plenary sessions, working groups and informal roundtables which gave Partnership members the opportunity to exchange experiences, to review progress made in the year since the first ever global meeting of members (Merano, Italy, October 2003) and to chart the future course of the Mountain Partnership and its dynamic core—the 'Partnership Initiatives'.
Sharing common goals
Working together on shared needs, priorities and concerns underlies the Partnership Initiatives — an umbrella term describing joint projects, programmes and areas for action with specific thematic and regional focus.
The Cusco Conference included breakaway sessions (or 'working groups') on each of the 12 Mountain Partnership Initiatives: those with thematic focus such as education, gender, policy and law, research, sustainable agriculture and rural development in mountains (SARD-M), sustainable livelihoods, watershed management; and those with regional focus such as the Andes, Central Asia, East Africa, Europe, and Hindu Kush Himalaya.
These 90-minute breakaway sessions on individual initiatives brought members of Initiatives (as well as interested observers) together to prioritize areas of potential action, generate programme and project ideas, map out workplans and assign roles and responsibilities in their joint activities. The results and conclusions that emerged from these sessions will lay the foundations for much of the work on Partnership Initiatives that will be carried out and developed amongst members in the coming months and years.
One new Partnership Initiative was launched at Cusco. At the final Plenary session, Mexico with the support of Cuba, Jamaica and UNDP called for the creation of a Partnership Initiative for Central America and the Caribbean. This proposal was wholeheartedly welcomed by participants. Read the statement here.
The Cusco Conference endorsed three key documents which underline that Partnership members have a solid and dynamic framework in which to work on collaborative activities. During a Plenary session at the Cusco Conference, members endorsed the governance of the Partnership — set out in the 'Organization, Membership and Governance' paper — and adopted the 'Cusco Framework for Action'. Participants also affirmed their collective commitment to the goals of sustainable mountain development through the Declaration of the Andes. Prepared initially by the Government of Peru, this document recognizes the increasing awareness of the importance of mountains to life, and the alliance of commitment and will towards sustainable mountain development that has grown at all levels since the Rio Earth Summit (1992) when Chapter 13 of Agenda 21 — the blueprint for sustainable mountain development — was adopted. The Declaration re-affirms the common vision of partners to improve mountain lives and environments, and concludes with a call for members to develop initiatives and implement the Cusco Framework for Action. Participants were invited to provide input and comments to the document in the final session of the Plenary. These contributions were subsequently integrated into the final version of the Declaration of the Andes. View the document here.
Networking, information sharing and the exchange of experience were a marked feature of the Cusco Conference. While plenary sessions included presentations on thematic areas, each day of the Conference concluded with informal roundtable discussions on a wide variety of topics, ranging from enhancing connectivity in remote mountain communities through broadband technologies, to building and sustaining partnerships for geographic learning, regional cooperation between mountain ranges for sustainable development (including the example of the Alpine-Carpathian Partnership), the potential of debt relief to enhance sustainable mountain development and the role of microfinance in improving lives and livelihoods in mountains.
A presentation on the Global Mountain Programme of the International Potato Center (CIP) —Cusco Conference co-organizers—illustrated the advances being made through the network of CGIAR agricultural research centres in using science-based solutions to foster collaborative efforts for sustainable mountain development around the world. View the presentation here.
The Mountain Partnership can clearly learn valuable lessons from the experiences of other multi-stakeholder partnerships working in development. A presentation to the Plenary on the White Water to Blue Water (WW2BW) Partnership, which emerged like the Mountain Partnership from the WSSD process in 2002, highlighted potential tools and opportunities for building alliances and fostering cooperation among a broad spectrum of partners, particularly the private sector. View the presentation here.
Access to microfinance is key to improving opportunities for meaningful mountain development. But how can this essential resource be tapped and utilized? A presentation by Partnership member, PlaNetFinance, turned the spotlight on the NGO's extensive network of financial institutions, hiighlighted the the challenges and opportunities and suggested potential input from Mountain Partnership members. View the presentation here.