Bragging rights for sustainable mountain development-A A +A
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
THE other day I received an email from Dr. Thomas Hofer, the interim coordinator of the Mountain Partnership Secretariat based at the Rome home office of the Food and Agriculture Organization.
As the focal point in Southeast Asia, I was requested to provide an input for the next United Nations Secretary General Report on sustainable mountain development. Getting the same request are my colleagues from Africa, South and Southeast Asia Central Asia, Europe, Latin America, North Africa and the Middle East.
The document will describe the status and progress made in promoting sustainable mountain development at the national and international levels. The report will highlight specific thematic areas of focus, provide an overall analysis of the challenges, and include recommendations on how to achieve sustainable development in mountain regions more effectively.
Can Southeast Asia, or at least, the Philippines, brag about projects and programs benefiting mountain environments and communities; the progress made in implementing national plans, strategies or policies related to mountains; the compensation mechanisms for environmental services and goods provided by mountain areas; and the in-country coordination and collaboration mechanisms for sustainable mountain development.
"Action at the country level is a key factor in achieving progress in sustainable mountain development," added Dr. Hofer (who is simply Thomas during MP meetings). The input to the reporting process will reveal a significant opportunity to raise awareness on important mountain issues for the country, will gain visibility at the international level, and will contribute to drafting an official document of the UN Secretariat.
Can Southeast Asia or the Philippines provide wow features on biodiversity conservation and mountain ecosystems, climate change in mountain areas, arresting land degradation and desertification in mountain ecosystems, mountain water and watershed management, disaster risk management, indigenous peoples issues, gender and mountain development, green economy in mountain ecosystems, payment for environmental services, high quality mountain products, food security and nutrition in mountain areas, migration and urbanization in mountains, tourism and mountains, policy and law for mountain development, exploitation of mountain natural resources, and communications and networking?
The interesting thing is that Dr. Hofer's email talks about mountain ecosystems, yet in Southeast Asia and certainly in the Philippines, government and civil society equate mountain ecosystems as FOREST ecosystems. In dealing with mountains, the kneejerk reaction is to give the work to the DENR.
On the other hand, when government talks of sustainable development, the responsibility goes to the National Economic Development Authority. Along the way, mountains get lost altogether and issues are lumped with other sectors. Quite strange, if you ask me, considering we live in an archipelagic mountainous country.
Even Filipino civil society focused on the farmers, fisherfolk, indigenous people, women, youth and students, academia, representatives from the local government units, and environmental support NGOs and networks convened for the national summit on RIO+20 toward sustainable and empowering agricultural economies.
Still, not all is lost. The Philippines does have bragging rights that hopefully can make it to Secretary General Ban Ki Moon's report to the UN General Assembly. As a way of honoring Dr. Annabelle Abaya, the country's mother of conflict resolution, she provided the world a model of resolving competing interests among mountain stakeholders on the strength of a needs-based approach for all.
Please email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on February 13, 2013.