Mbale, 11 November 2016. The 2016 World Mountain Forum (WMF) themed, “Mountains for our Future,” convened in Mbale, Uganda from 17-20 October 2016. The Forum provided a platform for participants to discuss sustainable mountain development (SMD) in the context of the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Approximately half of Africa’s countries have mountains higher than 2000m, with mountains above 4500m being concentrated to the north-western, central and eastern regions. Those mountains cover an estimated 3 million km2 of surface area and ensure life-supporting goods and services for millions of people by providing water, food and energy security at the local, national, and regional levels (Africa Mountain Partnership, 2015).
However, several mountain regions suffer from dismal poverty, extensive land degradation, and inequitable land rights, and are already enduring severe negative impacts from climate change. Mountain regions are among the most sensitive to climate change, and receding glaciers are one of the most visible indicators of global change.
It is for this reason that the World Mountain Forum brought together key stakeholders from around the world to foster political dialogue and promote collaborative action to protect mountain ecosystems and communities. The Forum began with a Special Africa Mountains Event that highlighted key issues affecting mountain ecosystems and communities in Africa. This paved the way for participants to showcase and discussed local, regional and global experiences in SMD, and explored how to effectively implement the Paris Agreement and the SDGs.
Topics of discussion were based on four key themes: mountains and climate change; mountain communities and livelihoods; mountain ecosystem services; and sustainable mountain agriculture. As a result The WMF 2016 presented the Mbale Call for Scaling Up Action, themed “Don’t leave the mountains behind,” which is expected to accelerate local action and guide mountain- related interventions in ongoing international policy processes, including the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change and the SDGs, some targets of which explicitly mention mountains.
The meeting was jointly organized by the Albertine Rift Conservation Society (ARCOS) and the Ministry of Water and Environment, Uganda, with financial and technical support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) as well as diverse partners from around the world involved in the SDC-funded Sustainable Mountain Development for Global Change (SMD4GC) programme. The previous WMF took place in Cusco, Peru, in 2014.