The Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) adopted Mountain Biodiversity as decision VII/27 at its 7th meeting, held in February 2004 at Kuala Lumpur. At its 4th meeting in 1998, the COP to the CBD had selected mountain biodiversity as 1 of the 3 themes for in-depth consideration at its 7th meeting. At its 6th meeting in 2002, the COP adopted the guidelines and format for a thematic report on mountain ecosystems. The Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBST-TA)—an open-ended intergovernmental scientific advisory body to the COP to the CBD—considered mountain biodiversity as the main theme and adopted the structure, elements, goals and possible actions of the proposed program of work on mountain biodiversity at its 8th meeting. It further decided to complement this structure with actions to be identified with the help of an ad hoc technical expert group and consultations with parties, other governments, and relevant organizations. A meeting of the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Mountain Biodiversity held in July 2003 in Rome subsequently submitted its report to the 9th meeting of SBST-TA. The latter adopted the recommendations that included a program of work on mountain biodiversity. Thus, COP-7 took up mountain biodiversity as a priority issue for review and guidance and adopted the decision by 188 countries as parties.
The decision noted that Parties should implement the program of work on mountain biodiversity in the context of national priorities and incorporate these into national biodiversity strategies and action plans, as well as national programs and activities. The Parties should implement them considering the ecosystem approach to reduce the rate of mountain biodiversity loss by 2010, contribute to poverty reduction, and benefit indigenous and local communities dependent on mountains. It invited the Parties to adopt outcome-oriented targets for mountain biodiversity, taking into account the Strategic Plan of the CBD, the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, and the Millennium Development Goals.
The decision also agreed that the knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities should be taken into account and their participation in conservation and sustainable use of mountain biological diversity ensured, in accordance with Article 8(j) on in-situ conservation and related provisions of the CBD. It recognized the need for human and technological resources and for financial capacity to implement effectively the activities in the program of work. It thus encouraged governments and other interested entities to form partnerships to address these needs.
It also urged bi- and multilateral organizations and processes to provide funds, training and support, where applicable, to developing country Parties and Parties with economies in transition to assist in the effective implementation of the program of work. It invited to report on implementation of this decision and those parts of the program of work that are identified as priorities under national and local conditions. The following summary gives an insight into the program of work on mountain biodiversity (see also www.biodiv.org/default.aspx).
Program and purpose of work on mountain biodiversity
The program on mountain biodiversity features goals and activities that are specific to mountain biological diversity, although the existing programs of work on forests, inland waters, agricultural, and dry and sub-humid land biodiversity also apply to mountain ecosystems. As a result, the goals and activities contained in the existing programs of work in each of these thematic areas should also be applied and implemented, whenever appropriate, to their respective areas in mountain ecosystems. Information and input from international forums may also be taken into account, particularly, Chapter 13 of Agenda 21, which relates to sustainable mountain development, the World Summit on Sustainable Development, and valuable inputs that emerged from the International Year of Mountains 2002. In addition, a number of international agreements, institutions, and program initiatives may be considered.
The overall purpose of the program of work is significant reduction of mountain biodiversity loss by 2010 at the global, regional and national levels, through implementation of the 3 main objectives of the CBD. The aim of implementation of the program of work is to make a significant contribution to poverty alleviation in mountain ecosystems and lowlands dependent on the goods and services of mountain ecosystems. It focuses on addressing characteristics and problems that are specific to mountain biodiversity. The program of work is intended to assist Parties in establishing national programs of work with targeted goals, objectives, and actions, with specific actors, timeframes and inputs, and expected measurable outputs. In determining national programs of work, Parties are encouraged to pay due regard to the socioeconomic, cultural and environmental costs and benefits of various options. In addition, Parties are encouraged to consider the use of appropriate technologies, sources of finance, and technical cooperation, and to ensure, through appropriate actions, the means to meet the particular challenges and demands of their mountain ecosystems.
Deal with the negative impacts of key threats to biodiversity
Actions incorporate appropriate measures and strategies to identify, prevent and mitigate the impacts of key threats to mountain ecosystems that affect mountain biodiversity. These threats include: adverse land-use practices, human-induced slope instability, natural geological hazards, the negative impacts of economic development, introduction of invasive alien species, the impacts of global climate change, local and long-range pollution, glacial retreat, and other human-induced pressures on mountain ecosystems.
Protect, recover, and restore biodiversity
Actions encompass strategies to identify and initiate specific activities to address different aspects of mountain biodiversity, including socioeconomic considerations, especially in relation to indigenous and local communities. The areas to be considered include: endemism of species; fragile mountain ecosystems and biodiversity hotspots with a focus on threatened species; land use and water resource planning at landscape level; protected area systems; and adequate and effective networks of mountain-protected areas. Consideration must also be given to sustainable agriculture and pastoralism using sustainable traditional practices, ecosystem sustainability with emphasis on degraded slopes, conflict issues involving humans and other species, freshwater networks for migratory species; and restoration areas where mountain biological diversity has been degraded significantly.
Promote sustainable use of biological resources
Actions include promotion of sustainable practices in areas that have a direct impact on the conservation of mountain biodiversity, especially focusing on indigenous and local communities and community-based management systems. Also mentioned are promotion and strengthening of sustainable land use and water resource management practices in relation to livelihood needs; partnerships between all stakeholders; local capacity for sustainable tourism management, while preserving natural and cultural heritage values; sustainable use of economically valuable wild plants and animals as an income-generating activity for local inhabitants; and integrated watershed management practices.
Promote access to, and share benefits of, genetic resources
Suggested actions are to strengthen the capacity of indigenous and local communities to engage in equitable benefit-sharing arrangements, develop methods to assess and conserve genetic resources of high economic value, and promote actions through conservation-linked income opportunities for marginal communities, all in accordance with national legislation where it exists.
Maintain genetic diversity through traditional knowledge and practices
Actions include strategies for minimizing the threat of genetic erosion of domesticated biodiversity and wild relatives, paying particular attention to the centers of origin of genetic resources, and developing sustainable use practices for biodiversity at all levels. Further, the strategies include respecting, preserving and maintaining indigenous knowledge, practices, processes and technologies, and implementing provisions contained in Article 8(j) on in-situ conservation and related provisions of the CBD.
Means of implementation
Enhance the legal, policy, institutional, and economic framework
Suggested actions for the enhancement of legal and policy frameworks are to identify and address perverse incentives and policies that may impede the implementation of the CBD in mountain ecosystems; improve science–policy linkages; and develop and implement legal and policy strategies at the landscape or river basin level, emphasizing upstream–downstream relations and prevention of biodiversity loss. Actions for institutional framework enhancement are to develop performance indicators and report on the integration of conservation and sustainable use of mountain biodiversity into institutional programs, including sectoral policies, legal and economic frameworks, and strengthening of legal and institutional capacity to implement the work program, especially through national focal points, institutes and other relevant stakeholder groups and mechanisms. Strategies to enhance the economic framework include developing and introducing appropriate incentives, market and compensation mechanisms; promoting the diversification of income-generating activities to support conservation and sustainable use of mountain biodiversity; and preventing the negative impacts of economic development. Additionally, the implementation of environmental and social impact assessments at sectoral, program and project levels is to be encouraged. Consideration is also to be given to the specificities of indigenous and local communities depending upon mountain ecosystems, and integration of aspects of mountain biodiversity into plans, policies and programs related to mountain areas.
Respect, preserve and maintain the knowledge, practices and innovations of indigenous and local communities
Actions include promoting the implementation of activities aimed at maintaining existing levels of agro-biodiversity, paying particular attention to centers of origin and the goods and services they provide, both to meet local demands and ensure sources of food security. The action calls for states to respect, understand and support the traditions and sustainable practices of indigenous and local communities in mountain regions. In addition, decision-making processes are to be promoted, paying particular attention to empowerment of women, enhanced access to information, and development of capacity building measures and information sharing for the full participation and involvement of indigenous and local communities in decisions that affect them in relation to mountain ecosystems. Further, implementation of activities aimed at the improvement of mountain livelihoods, poverty reduction and the maintenance of cultural identity is to be promoted, in order to achieve the sustainable use of mountain biodiversity.
Establish regional and transboundary collaboration
Actions include strategies to promote integrated transboundary cooperation for sustainable activities in mountain ranges, through mutually agreed-upon arrangements by countries concerned. Regional and transboundary cooperation for research, adaptive management, and exchange of expertise is also to be promoted, to strengthen and improve conservation and management of mountain biodiversity, also through peace parks. In addition, collaboration and synergies between the work programs of the CBD and other global conventions and agreements is to be strengthened. New methodologies and new mechanisms are to be developed, such as upland–lowland contracts that sustain mountain biodiversity and provision of goods and services.
Identify, monitor and assess biodiversity
Actions include promoting the monitoring of susceptible areas subject to climate change, conducting mountain surveys in priority areas, and supporting the work of the Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment (GMBA). In addition, whenever appropriate, the programs of work of the global initiatives are to be applied, and national biodiversity strategies, action plans and other national reports to the CBD are to be used for monitoring and assessment of mountain biodiversity.
Improve knowledge and methods for assessment and monitoring
Strategies include developing indicators of status and change in mountain ecosystems; also selecting international, regional and national criteria, and appropriate quantifiable indicators. The actions also call for assessing and addressing the key threats to mountain biodiversity, and developing methodologies for assigning value to ecological services and compensating poor and vulnerable mountain communities.
Improve infrastructure for data, and information management for assessment and monitoring
Actions include enhancing and improving technical capacity at a national level to monitor mountain biodiversity; promoting open access to existing information on biodiversity and related databases; and sharing through the clearing-house mechanism of the CBD. Moreover, actions include encouraging mapping and inventory of biodiversity and land use changes, and using analog and digital databases, both for scientific purposes and to support decision-making.
Improve research, technical and scientific cooperation, and other forms of capacity-building
Actions encompass steps to conduct long-term research on species adaptability to changing environmental conditions, and on the role and importance of mountain biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. Additionally, there is a call for collaborative research of mutual interest and exchange of experience and knowledge about sustainable development and ecosystem vulnerability among countries with mountains. Capacity is to be developed and opportunities enhanced in relation to community-based research and monitoring, as well as scientific and technical coordination mechanisms at national level, in order to identify research priorities and optimize efficient utilization of research results.
Increase public education, participation and awareness
Actions include strategies that promote educational and capacity-building systems tailored to the specific conditions of mountain ecosystems and broadly based awareness of the values of mountain biodiversity. The related contexts for awareness are: implementation of sustainable tourism activities, and knowledge of upland–lowland interactions among policy-makers and planners. Furthermore, actions include promoting the education of women and increasing awareness of the contribution of knowledge, practices and innovations of indigenous and local communities—including women—to conservation and sustainable use of mountain biodiversity.