The Mountain Partnership

Place: ecuador, South America
Sustainable development of small rural communities Sustainable development of small rural communities
Total Budget: € 9.033.913,00 | Period: From January 2002 To


The MP is a platform for joint action and programmes. Members join forces to promote, facilitate and implement initiatives at national, regional and international level, to raise awareness about the challenges faced by mountain peoples and environments and to exchange best practices to enhance the livelihoods and living conditions of mountain communities.
Capacity building programmes and projects to promote high quality mountain products are key examples of concrete actions implemented by the MP in order to incentivize the sustainable development of rural mountain communities.


The Mountain Partnership - Italy

Lead applicant

The MP is a platform for joint action and programs. Members join forces to promote, facilitate and implement initiatives at nation, regional and international levels, to raise awareness about the challenges faced by mountain peoples and environments and to exchange best practices to cope with them so to enhance the living condition of mountain communities. Capacity building programs and projects to promote high quality mountain products are key examples of concrete actions implemented by the MP in order to incentivize the sustainable development of rural mountain communities.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs -Directorate General for Development Cooperation - Italy

Initiative partner

L’organizzazione delle attività di Cooperazione allo Sviluppo, componente essenziale della politica internazionale dell'Italia, fa parte dei compiti del Ministero degli Affari Esteri (MAE), che demanda tali attività alla Direzione Generale per la Cooperazione allo Sviluppo (DGCS) che è l’organo preposto ad attuare tale politica, in attuazione della legge n.49/87. La DGCS attua le linee di cooperazione e le politiche di settore nei diversi Paesi, stabilisce rapporti con le Organizzazioni Internazionali, con l’Unione Europea e con le Organizzazioni non governative; programma, elabora ed applica gli indirizzi della politica di cooperazione e le politiche di settore tra cui sanità, ambiente e sviluppo imprenditoria locale; realizza iniziative e progetti nei Pvs; effettua interventi di emergenza e fornisce aiuti alimentari; gestisce la cooperazione finanziaria e il sostegno all’imprenditoria privata e alla bilancia dei pagamenti dei Pvs; promuove e realizza la cooperazione universitaria.

Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations - Italy

Initiative partner

Achieving food security for all is at the heart of FAO's efforts – to make sure people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives. FAO's three main goals are: the eradication of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition; the elimination of poverty and the driving forward of economic and social progress for all; and, the sustainable management and utilization of natural resources, including land, water, air, climate and genetic resources for the benefit of present and future generations.

When UN agencies, governments, development banks, research institutions, NGOs and private enterprises come together to promote sustainable development, that is a best practice. The Mountain Partnership (MP) avails of a multi-stakeholder governance approach in striving to improve the livelihoods of mountain communities and reduce their vulnerability to food insecurity. With its 235 members, it is one of the largest Type II Partnerships, a form of collaboration launched at Johannesburg Earth Summit in 2002. The MP works with the support of its Secretariat from local to global level to: • implement joint field projects to respond to local needs • promote the valorization of high quality mountain products and ensure direct revenues to small-scale mountain producers • encourage the sharing of good practices, indigenous and scientific knowledge • advocate for the inclusion of mountains in policies and investments in sustainable mountain development

Over the last 12 years, the MP’s innovative multi-stakeholder governance approach has empowered a variety of stakeholders to actively participate in sustainable mountain development (SMD). By providing direct access to decision-making, the MP is filling the ‘participation gap’ in global governance. It has empowered weaker or non-traditional actors in the international arena as mountain communities are often excluded from decision making on mountain resource and development planning. In particular, the Mountain Partnership Secretariat (MPS) has supported sustainable mountain development projects concerning the valorization of high quality mountain products. It analysed the value chain of 60 products with market potential to identify critical success factors to their promotion in close collaboration with local MP members in all continents and supported the reintroduction of traditional Andean crops with organic farming techniques in Ecuador.

Kyrgyz mountain products Central Asian members of the Mountain Partnership such as the Federation of Organic Development Bio-KG and the Agency of Development Initiatives contribute to rural development by providing support to community development initiatives, A network of rural communities engages in the production of high quality local mountain products, including tea, jams, felt objects, and much more. They support rural mountain households to get access to economic services and thus improve their livelihoods, facilitating also their participation in local development.
Saffron, the red gold In the Anti-Atlas region of Morocco, saffron, also known as “red gold”, is a unique high-value mountain product and a key source of income for approximately 3000 smallholder farmers. An MP project was launched to support improved production, processing and marketing of saffron. Local producers improved the quality of saffron and due to higher market prices, increased their incomes.
Traditional Andean crops The MPS jointly with the Union of Rural Organizations in the North of Cotopaxi, Ecuador implemented a project to reintroduce traditional Andean crops. An excellent source of protein, they are being replaced by monocultures with negative ecological and dietary impacts. Traditional and innovative techniques for their organic production were collected and disseminated to the benefit of the about 500,000 farm families relying on Andean crops for consumption and sale of the surplus.

Mountains are home to 14% of world population and many among this 1 billion people are hungry and malnourished. Agriculture, their main source of livelihood, is challenged by harsh environment, isolation, natural hazards, climate change and extreme poverty that disrupt infrastructures and hamper productivity and access to markets. The MP champions their cause at global, regional, national and local level so that policy makers include mountain development in their agendas. In parallel, the MP implements projects to ensure revenues generated by mountain products (e.g. premium quality coffee in Peru, saffron in Morocco, mushrooms in Bhutan, medicinal herbs in Nepal, etc.), go to mountain producers rather than to intermediaries. After all, what happens in the mountains also affects people in the lowlands, who benefit from mountain goods and ecosystem services (such as freshwater). Thus, greater investments in SMD are needed for the benefit of all.

Mountains link the world Mountains provide vital goods and services to all humankind and are key for supporting sustainable development and moving the world towards a greener economy. They provide around 70% of the world freshwater for drinking, lowland irrigation vital to food security, industry and hydropower, the most important source of renewable energy generation. Mountains also supply important minerals and the genetic resources of major food crops.
Mountains’ recognition Thanks to the active engagement of the MP members and their coordinated efforts, mountains gained more visibility in the international agenda over time. This generated positive spillovers as mountain people and ecosystems received more attention.
Why SMD matters Members of the Mountain Partnership illustrate the importance they attach to sustainable mountain development and provide examples gathered from their experience in the different regions of the world.

MP achievements on local, national, regional and international level include:
•implementing mountain product valorization projects (in Morocco, for example, the living conditions of rural mountain communities were improved by better marketing of quality saffron and, in Ecuador, diets and income were improved by reintroducing traditional Andean crops through the use of organic farming and providing marketing training to women)
•creating the first online database on mountain products of the world
•supporting the establishment of Andean national committees to holistically address mountain issues and a transboundary regional mechanism
•producing two statistical studies, 10 years apart, to track changes in hunger in mountain areas so as to inform policy making globally
•advocating for attention to mountain peoples on international, regional and national agendas

../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Document The future we want
../file-system/small/doc ../file-system/small/doc Document Project on mountain products valorization
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Document Organic production of Andean crops

The ultimate beneficiaries of MP actions are the people residing in mountain areas around the world.

The 235 MP members – from national governments and intergovernmental organizations to research institutions, NGOs and private enterprises – are united by a vision and engaged in a shared mission at all levels.

The MP responds to the needs of its members, such as:
• valorization of high quality products
• reintroduction of traditional products
• capacity building
• strengthening international negotiations advocacy skills
• institutional strengthening
• regional and global collaboration
• awareness raising on mountain issues
• dissemination of lessons learned
• knowledge sharing

Focus on mountain communities What would happen to mountain communities if we do nothing? MP members answer this question by providing inspiring insight from around the world.
Partnership: the best approach Why is it important to have a partnership for sustainable mountain development? MP members answer this question building on their experiences and lessons learned from around the world.
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Document MP governance and strategy
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Document Mountains and SDGs

The MP is supported by the MPS, which is hosted by FAO and established to support and serve the MP members. It currently staffs a Coordinator, a programme officer, two communications consultants, a junior communications consultant, a junior programme consultant and a part time graphic designer.

The MP is led by a Steering Committee, which provides programmatic orientation and oversees the preparation of a four-year strategy and a two-year workplan. The 16-member body monitors the work of the MPS as well as the implementation of the MP agenda, achievements and impacts of its activities. It meets annually while every two years it selects a Chair and a Vice Chair.

It is not possible to quantify the human resources of the Partnership as a whole, but the size of its constituency (53 governments, 14 Intergovernmental Organizations, 168 civil society organizations) suggests the vast and diverse human capital committed to the MP mission.

MP members together in Turkey More than 100 MP members gathered in Erzurum, Turkey, for the Fourth Global Meeting of the MP in 2013. Participants approved the four-year strategy and governance document (2014-2017), developed the building blocks of a two-year workplan and selected a 16-member Steering Committee. Topics such as ensuring that mountains are included in the Post-2015 development agenda, the sharing of regional mechanisms, a knowledge platform for SMD and regional coordination were addressed.

Considering the size of its global constituency, the MP’s main challenge is a lack of adequate financial resources.

The MPS functions as a broker of joint activities among MP members facilitating contacts between countries and institutions and creating conditions for partnerships, networking and resource mobilization at all levels.

On some occasions partners have developed promising joint programmes that would surely improve livelihoods of mountain inhabitants, but could not be pursued due to fund unavailability.

As an alternative to financial resources, the MP has promoted technology transfer, South-South collaboration mechanisms and in-kind contributions.

A second challenge is to develop a strategy and workplan for the MP as a whole that harmonizes and satisfies the needs and priorities of a diverse constituency.

Covering a quarter of earth’s land surface, mountains provide freshwater, energy and natural resources that will be increasingly scarce in coming decades.Unsustainable use of natural resources undermines the resilience of mountain ecosystems and, consequently, their capacity to provide the goods and services of vital importance to both upstream and downstream communities.Given its sustainable mountain development mission, the MP incorporates environmental sustainability as a pre-condition in all of its actions.In line with the concept of green growth, MP activities combine economic growth and sustainable development by:

•embedding environmental considerations and the value of natural capital into economic and development decision-making
•centring on human wellbeing and ensuring that natural assets keep providing the goods and services on which wellbeing relies
•promoting best practices and knowledge sharing to manage and enhance the resilience of fragile mountain ecosystems

Nepal’s Middle Mountains The preparing of additional terraces for paddy rice on the run-out of a deliberately induced landslide demonstrates that local mountain people were well aware of how to use their knowledge of landslide processes to help them with farming.
Uganda - Kapchorwa district The African mountains stand out as areas with favorable climatic and ecological conditions, in contrast to the surrounding lowlands that are generally much drier. As a consequence of this, the total average population density in all African mountains is more than double the density of the lowlands. The driving economic forces now have better knowledge about and access to the rich natural resources in the mountains, including hydropower, minerals, timber and agricultural soils.

Many of the Partnerships’ activities are based on a lessons learned approach, allowing for replication.The studies on mountain product value chains and marketability,such as those carried out in Morocco and Ecuador,are suitable for replication elsewhere.In fact, this has already been done, for example, in Kyrgyzstan and Peru.A branding self-certification scheme will be tested in Ecuador and Bolivia and then replicated in other MP member states.Regional mechanisms for addressing transboundary mountain issues supported by the MP,such as the Andean Regional Initiative, have proven to be a valid model that will be replicated, for example,by a Regional Initiative for Mountains in the MENA Region.Since 2006, the MP has co-organized an annual SMD educational programme, whose alumni continue to share sustainable mountain management knowledge through their ever expanding IPROMO global network.The course will be replicated in Spanish in Latin America and in Russian in Central Asia.

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The MP fosters the dissemination of the results of initiatives among members through a series of communications activities which include workshops and events, the monthly newsletter Peak to Peak, a website, a Facebook page, videos, a trilingual brochure and publications. Project reports are always prepared and made available.Every year for International Mountain Day, the Partnership produces a video on mountains in five languages (English, French, Spanish, Russian and Italian) which is widely distributed to the media and to the partners. That of 2013 received over 5000 views on YouTube.The MP website is frequently updated with news as well as information about events, initiatives and members. A summary of the main highlights of the MP’s activities is included in the Peak to Peak newsletter which is sent out to 2000 subscribers monthly. In 2014, the MP published Mountain Farming is Family Farming for the International Year of Family Farming 2014.



International Mountain Day The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed 11 December the International Mountain Day. From 2003, the day is observed each year to celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of mountains to life. It is an opportunity to highlight the opportunities and constraints in mountain development and to build partnerships that will bring positive change to the peoples living in world’s mountains and highlands.
../file-system/small/pdf ../file-system/small/pdf Document MP brochure
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