Dear Friends,

Today is the International Mountain Day (11 December) and I am pleased to share with
you the Message from our Director General, Dr. Andreas Schild  on this occasion. It
is also available at http://www.icimod.org/?page=1678 You are welcome to share it
among your networks members and others who may be interested in the message.


To mark this event, the Award Ceremony of the 'Promoting Herbal Gardens in Schools -
Best Herbal Gardens'  competition, a culmination of six months' of effort of
promoting  herbal gardens in 15 schools in Kathmandu,  was successfully conducted
yesterday at ICIMOD. More information on this later. In the mean time,  you are
welcome to read about it at http://www.icimod.org/?page=1128

Wishing you all great success in  observing this important Day!

Best wishes,
Nira


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Message from the ICIMOD Director General, Dr. Andreas Schild

Celebrating International Mountain Day
11 December 2010

International Mountain Day, celebrated on December 11, gives us an opportunity to
reflect on the relevance of mountains for the world. This year the International
Mountain Day theme focuses on indigenous peoples and other minorities living in the
mountains. The purpose is both to highlight the threats and challenges faced by
these communities, and to acknowledge the invaluable knowledge they have and the
contributions they can make towards overcoming global challenges of poverty and loss
of diversity in a rapidly changing world.
A majority of the world's indigenous women and men live in mountain regions, many on
the margins of society and facing poverty and exclusion. The Hindu Kush-Himalayan
region has some of the highest diversity of indigenous peoples and other minorities
in the world. An ICIMOD report identified more than 600 living languages in the
Himalayas, 400 spoken by less than 100,000 people. According to current forecasts,
ninety per cent of all languages could disappear within 100 years. The loss of these
languages not only erodes an essential component of a group's identity, it is also a
loss to heritage for all humankind.
The UN General Assembly adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous
Peoples in September 2007, marking an important step in international efforts to
preserve the identity of indigenous peoples. However, implementation has a different
speed and different levels of commitment in different countries.
In agricultural terms, mountains are often considered 'marginal lands', unsuitable
for modern commercial farming which focuses on cultivation of single crop varieties
for large markets. Indigenous mountain people and other mountain communities
continue to use traditional practices and techniques including sophisticated
terracing systems, water transportation and irrigation schemes, and a combination of
pasture, forestry and farming practices. Indigenous women and men serve as
custodians of this traditional knowledge on how to farm under difficult mountain
conditions, and how to conserve important reservoirs of agricultural biodiversity.
They sustainably farm a wide variety of crops that are adapted to a range of
different elevations, slope conditions, and micro-climates, and this knowledge will
be of great, if as yet little noticed, value in the world's efforts to adapt to
climate and other drivers of change. The autonomous adaptation practiced by mountain
communities consists of community-based interventions that address underlying causes
of vulnerability and reduce the risk of possible adverse impacts of climate change
by building upon the existing rich indigenous knowledge base on adaptation to
environmental change and helping to strengthen the resilience of the communities.
Women especially play a critical role in gendered indigenous knowledge. Their roles
and expertise have yet to be acknowledged, but has great potential for adapting to
multiple drivers of change.
Indigenous mountain communities are connected to the land, the environment, and
natural resources in ways that are often inextricably intertwined and therefore
expressed in spiritual and socio-cultural terms. Respecting this worldview, and
preserving the languages, music, artwork, folk tales, culture, meanings, and myths
that express it, is critical for the survival of indigenous communities in mountain
areas. This 'intangible heritage' also enriches the global community, providing
inspiration and insights for realising a more sustainable relationship between
humankind and the environment.
The involvement of indigenous mountain communities is an important prerequisite for
sustainable mountain development. Therefore, as governments work toward addressing
mountain development priorities, it is critical that they live up to their
commitments outlined in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

We hope that this year's International Mountain Day will help to increase awareness
of the central role of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples for mountain development,
and to motivate all citizens, policy makers, and development actors to recognise the
importance of their contribution to sustainable development. We trust that the Day
will encourage organisations to invite indigenous and traditional mountain
communities to participate actively in national and international efforts to
understand and adapt to the multiple drivers of change, including climate change, in
the mountains of the world.
More  details on the IMD are available at   http://www.fao.org/mnts/en/

With best wishes,
Andreas Schild

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Nira Gurung (Ms), Communications Officer
International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development
GPO Box 3226, Khumaltar, Lalitpur, Kathmandu, Nepal.
Tel +977-1-5003222 Direct Line 5003310 Ext 115 Fax +977-1-5003277  Web
www.icimod.org<http://www.icimod.org>