Indigenous peoples


The involvement of indigenous and traditional mountain communities is a prerequisite for sustainable mountain development. The culture of indigenous and traditional mountain communities is predominantly agrarian, shaped by harsh climates and rough terrain as well as the seasonal rhythms of planting, harvesting and transhumance.

For these peoples, land, water and forests are not simply natural resources to be used. As their ancestors before them, these communities understand that their well-being, their sense of identity and their children’s future depend on the careful stewardship of the environment. This ‘intangible heritage’ also enriches the global community, providing inspiration and insights for realizing a more sustainable relationship between humankind and the environment.

Mountain peoples cultivate a wide variety of crops that are adapted to a range of different elevations, slope conditions and microclimates. Moreover, indigenous and traditional mountain farmers have explicitly designed their agricultural systems to protect the soil from erosion, conserve water resources and reduce the risks of disasters triggered by natural hazards.

Therefore, traditional mountain communities serve as custodians of traditional knowledge on how to farm in difficult mountainous conditions and of important reservoirs of agricultural biodiversity. It is important to recognize in indigenous mountain communities that men and women have different areas of knowledge, experience and responsibility that contribute to preserving biodiversity.

The nutritional value of local foods is not determined simply by the different types of local crops, but by the way herbs and spices, the oils, meat, vegetables and condiments are combined and cooked (almost exclusively by women). This traditional cuisine, along with the knowledge and skills required to prepare it, represents another vital aspect of the intangible cultural heritage of mountain peoples. Unfortunately indigenous mountain food systems are at risk. Indigenous foods, stigmatized as ‘foods of the poor’, are often abandoned in favour of modern foods that are more convenient to cook but often contain high levels of sugar and fat and have relatively low nutritional value. This phenomenon compounds the problem of the relatively high rates of iodine and vitamin A micronutrient deficiencies found in impoverished mountain communities.

With climate change scenarios strongly suggesting that extreme weather events are likely to become more common and more intense in mountain areas, it is necessary integrate indigenous agricultural systems and their historical perspectives on climate variability as key-tools in climate change adaptation strategies.

Mountains and Sacred Landscapes

Mountains and Sacred Landscapes

event

The India China Institute (ICI) at The New School, the International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture (ISSRNC), American University’s Center for Latin America and Latino Studies (CLALS) and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) announce an international conference on the theme of mountains...

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Mountain Cultures Photo Contest voting now open

Mountain Cultures Photo Contest voting now open

event

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) received over 345 photos from 57 countries for the #MountainsMatter photo contest, which asked people to capture the diversity of mountain culture in pictures. Organized in the run-up to International Mountain Day on 11 December, the aim of...

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FAO launches Mountain Cultures Photo Contest

FAO launches Mountain Cultures Photo Contest

peak to peak

Issue 99 – Month 12 – Year 2016

The December issue of Peak to Peak announces the launch of the Mountain Cultures Photo Contest in celebration of International Mountain Day 2016, “Mountain Cultures: celebrating diversity and strengthening identity”. The newsletter continues with stories about 20 families living in...

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Climate change impacts in mountains – COP22

Climate change impacts in mountains – COP22

news

As the implementation of the Paris Agreement was being discussed in Marrakech, Morocco, mountain governments, institutions and NGOs reviewed the needs and mechanisms for addressing the impacts of climate change in mountains globally. Organized within the framework of the Mountain Partnership, the official side event “The impact of climate change...

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Mountains and the 2030 Agenda – COP22

Mountains and the 2030 Agenda – COP22

news

Organized within the framework of the Mountain Partnership, the official side event “Mapping and understanding mountains to achieve the 2030 Agenda” was held on 11 November 2016 at the 22nd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP22). The session focused on assessing...

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In memory of Lawrence S. Hamilton

In memory of Lawrence S. Hamilton

news

Mountain expert and environmental leader Lawrence “Larry” S. Hamilton passed away on 6 October 2016. During his lifetime, Larry Hamilton was a global leader in researching and raising awareness about mountain issues. He was a member of the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) of the International Union...

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