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Indigenous Mountain Communities Discuss Climate Change, Food Security

Mountain Partnership14 July 2014: Indigenous mountain communities from nine countries formed an International Network of Mountain Indigenous Peoples at a workshop in Bhutan. The workshop, which discussed how to respond to climate change impacts on their food and farming systems, resulted in the Bhutan Declaration on Climate Change and Mountain Indigenous Peoples.

Twenty-five communities from Bhutan, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Papua New Guinea, Tajikistan, Peru, the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand discussed the exchange of knowledge, innovations and technologies to adapt to climate change and achieve food sovereignty in mountain environments. The recently-formed Network is expected to advocate for protecting the rights of indigenous mountain peoples to their biocultural heritage and for supporting traditional knowledge-based adaptation strategies.

The Declaration calls on governments, civil society and the international community to, inter alia: acknowledge and respect the worldviews and cultural and spiritual values of indigenous peoples and traditional farmers and recognize the sacred nature of their seeds; support seed exchanges and the repatriation of seeds from international gene banks to create additional adaptation options and ensure local food sovereignty and food security; support activities around the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF); and recognize the value of traditional agricultural systems to national food security by integrating traditional knowledge into sectoral policies and programmes at the national level.

The Declaration further calls for: recognizing the contributions of traditional knowledge to the conservation and sustainable use of mountain ecosystems and their agro-biodiversity; supporting the creation and management of traditional knowledge banks that would allow sharing of adaptation strategies and continued innovation; and supporting processes for bridging traditional knowledge and science to create effective methods and solutions for the conservation and sustainable use of agro-biodiversity, food security and climate change adaptation.

The Declaration also announces the formation of a seed exchange programme among the Ura and Jangbi communities in Bhutan, communities in Yunnan, China, and the Potato Park in Peru. The seed exchange will be facilitated by the International Potato Center.

The Asociacion Andes, the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), the International Society for Ethnobotany and the National Biodiversity Centre of Bhutan organized the workshop, which took place from 26 May to 1 June 2014 in Bhutan. The Network will produce a report and film from the workshop. [Mountain Partnership Press Release] [The Bhutan Declaration on Climate Change and Mountain Indigenous Peoples][IIED Press Release on Workshop]