An International Network of Mountain Indigenous Peoples has been formed
in order to exchange seeds and knowledge to achieve food sovereignty and
climate change adaptation in mountain environments, and to advocate for
community biocultural heritage rights.The
network was formed at a walking workshop which took place in Bhutan
from 26 May to 1 June 2014. Twenty-five indigenous mountain communities
from 10 countries met to discuss the impacts of climatic changes on
their food and farming systems and the adaptation responses needed.
change threatens mountain ecosystems and the people that depend on them
for their livelihoods. All the communities that participated are
already experiencing adverse climatic changes – increased temperatures,
erratic rainfall, more extreme events (e.g. drought and typhoons) and
increased pests and diseases.
The communities from Peru, Bhutan and China had already agreed to exchange seeds at a meeting in Peru last month, to increase the chances of producing food in the face of more extreme weather. The International Potato Center has agreed to facilitate the seed exchange.
the Bhutan workshop, the agreement to exchange seeds was extended to
the other communities in the network – from India, Kyrgyzstan,
Tajikistan, Taiwan, Thailand, the Philippines and Papua New Guinea. The
network also developed the "Bhutan Declaration on Climate Change and Mountain Indigenous Peoples".
declaration calls on governments to support adaptation based on
traditional knowledge that is specific to local contexts, and to respect
indigenous peoples' world views and cultural and spiritual values that
lie at the heart of their adaptive capacity.
In the International Year of Family Farming,
the Bhutan declaration also calls on governments to support traditional
family farmers given their critical role in conserving crop diversity
for national food security, and urges them to integrate traditional
knowledge into sectoral policies, plans and programs.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
states that the impacts of climate change increase with altitude. This
means that mountain ecosystems are the first to be affected and will
experience the most severe changes. The 5th IPCC report also recognises
the role and value of local and traditional knowledge in climate change
adaptation, while noting that such knowledge is often not included in
The Bhutan declaration calls for the
promotion of indigenous languages as living libraries of critical
traditional knowledge associated with mountain ecosystems. It also calls
for support for bridging traditional knowledge and science to create
effective solutions for agro-biodiversity conservation, food security
and climate adaptation; and for the full implementation of the UN
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
urged to support exchanges of knowledge, innovation and technology
among indigenous and traditional mountain communities, so that solutions
to common challenges can be identified; and to support seed exchanges
and the repatriation of seeds from international gene banks to
farmers' fields as a critical strategy for food security.
The walking workshop in Bhutan was co-organised by Asociacion ANDES, IIED, the International Society for Ethnobiology and the National Biodiversity Centre of Bhutan.
Download the Bhutan Declaration on Climate Change and Mountain Indigenous Peoples.
More information: The Mountain Communities Initiative
Alejandro Argumedo Alejandro@andes.org.pe
Krystyna Swiderska Krystyna.firstname.lastname@example.org
International Institute for Environment and Development
80-86 Gray’s Inn Road