In just over three months, the 3rd global Sustainable Summits conference will start at Aoraki Mount Cook, New Zealand. We have an exciting group of speakers, at one of the most inspiring views in the world and initial interest shows that there are a wide range of topics participants want to air and debate.

The conference organisers and NZAC participants are excited about hosting the conference and we are adding to our existing global experiences and knowledge by reading all we can on mountain sustainability. Understanding roles and responsibilities of international and national organisations such as  FAO, WWF, Mountain Forum,  IUCN -WCPA Mountain Biome Network, UNESCO, The Mountain Partnership, the various alpine and mountain clubs the International Mountain Biking Association etc, is important.

FAO has a very crucial role and this summary explains the work they are doing.


Mountains are essential to our health and well-being. They provide most of the world’s freshwater, harbour an extraordinary variety of plants and animals, and are precious reservoirs of biological diversity for food, medicine, timber and recreation. Mountains are also home to at least one in ten people, with diverse cultures that are rich in traditions, knowledge and languages.

Yet, mountain ecosystems are more fragile than lowlands. The growing demand for water, the consequences of global climate change, the growth in tourism, the effects of armed confict and the pressures of industry, mining and agriculture threaten the extraordinary web of life that mountains support. These threats are causing rapid, and in cases irreversible, changes to mountain environments and to mountain people, already amongst the world’s poorest and hungriest.


The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is pooling its collective expertise, experience and skills to address mountain-specific problems and strengthen cooperation to fi nd solutions for poverty, hunger and environmental degradation in mountain areas,in line with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Activities to promote sustainable mountain development around the world involve four mainareas of focus: normative work; field programme; contribution to global partnerships, processes and initiatives, and communications and advocacy.

This work benefits from, and is complemented by, strong in-house collaboration at headquarters, the regional offices, as well as many country offices. It is also enhanced by strong cooperation maintained with a large partnership, including sister UN agencies,non-governmental organizations (NGOs), universities and research institutions.


Normative work covers such topics as Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development in Mountains (SARD-M), watershed management, policy and law, and mountain products, and focuses on information generation and dissemination, the development of methods, approaches and guidelines, networking and capacity building.


FAO’s f eld programme support to countries is typically through capacity-building, institutionalstrengthening and pilot field activities, as well as assistance with project identification, formulation and technical backstopping. Projects are currently underway in Cuba, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Poland and Tajikistan. Projects were recently completed in Armenia and North Korea. Projects are also to be initiated in the Fouta Djallon Highlands of West Africa and in Turkey.