Bridges across continents-A A +A
Friday, September 20, 2013
THIS is crazy, waking up at 2:50 a.m., to write this column. Jet lag? Most likely, butterflies in my tummy.
Yesterday was the last day of the plenary session of the 4th Global Meeting of the Mountain Partnership. We had very tight schedules the past two days, and today promises to be more of the same. But today, we will be on a field trip to the Uzundere Center - Çamliyamaç Village and Uluba? Hamlet - Tortum Fall.
I will lead a Side Event on “Tropical Mountain Forest Conservation and the Green Economy” after our lunch. Expected to attend are colleagues Colombia’s Ledy Trujillo, Costa Rica Magda Campos, Perú’s Miguel Saravia, Brazil’s Luis Felipe Cesar de, Indians Kalyan Paul and Dharmalingam Venugopal, and Cameroon’s Ruth Leyuga Titamongu.
Even before I arrived in Turkey, I got to contact them via emails. Erzurum was an occasion for a grand eyeball, to use the term used by radioheads before social media adopted it to refer to a meeting of strangers who found each other through Facebook.
We all agreed that our Side Event should lead to a global proposal that could to a global networking project on this theme. Upland organic agriculture and non-timber forest products expressed in our best practices could lead to the development of a mountain-based green economy.
I attended a Central Asian Side Event presentation the other night. On the side, I got to talk to the all-women delegates from Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan who expressed interest in attending our Side Event.
So far, I’m impressed how things have been turning out. For one, most of the participants stayed to take part in debates during the plenary discussion and Side Events, introducing the work that members done on sustainable mountain development from local communities, national governments, intergovernmental organizations, and UN agencies the FAO, UNEP, and UNDP.
I have to congratulate Swiss Dr. Thomas Hofer, the Team Leader (Watershed Management and Mountains) Interim Coordinator Mountain Partnership Secretariat Forestry Department of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.
Thomas brings to the table of this global meeting a sampler of Swiss democracy. I feel that everyone is equal to present each other’s ideas, that everyone has a role to play, whether it be as facilitator, organizer of side events, free to run as a member of the Mountain Partnership Steering Committee, the policy making body in between the global meetings.
So much to learn from my colleagues. For the most part, the discussions veered from the academic side of things to what has been happening on the ground since the UN adopted Chapter 13 of Agenda 21, the global blueprint for sustainable development.
Sadly, both the Philippine government and its civil society counterparts deleted Chapter 13 in the Philippine Agenda 21. They both substituted mountains for forests, as if forests are the sum total of the mountain ecosystem.
The various presenters here debunked that notion that mountains and forests are the equivalent of one another, although they are closely related. In fact, the FAO has pointed out the mountain context way back since the 1950s.
More of my Side Event next week when I get back to the country and when I have better time to reflect on my Erzurum experiences.
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Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on September 21, 2013.