His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang attended the Third World Mountain Forum, from October 17th to 20th 2016, in Mbale, Uganda under the theme “Mountains for Our Future”. The forum is jointedly hosted by ARCOS and the Uganda government. SDC and other organizations also offered technical support and funding for the forum.
His Holiness represented the forum as the Mountain Partnership Ambassador. The Mountain Partnership is a United Nations voluntary alliance dedicated to improving the lives of mountain peoples and protecting mountain environments around the world. H.H. was formally appointed as a United Nations Mountain Partnership Ambassador by Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN (FAO) on 6th May, 2015.
He pledged on this occasion to be not only a goodwill ambassador of the mountain region he is most familiar with the region where he was born, grew up and live in. He also addressed the common issues and challenges faced by mountain communities on a global level.
His Holiness spoke in the opening ceremony, participated in the thematic discussions, and delivered a presentation. In his speeches, he presented the crucial environmental challenges that Ladakh is facing and presented a sustainable development plan for Ladakh. At the closing ceremony, His Holiness chanted and prayed to bless over 300 delegates from more than 10 countries.
His Holiness said, “Our future lies in the mountains. How we treat the mountains now will determine what our future will look like. Mountains are part of our home and they are the water towers of the world. Therefore they are important for humanity and we are all tied to their future.
"We need collaboration across race, ethnicity, religion, country, and culture to assure that our mountains remain healthy. Global warming and climate change are serious threats to all our mountain environments and communities. "Everyone on this planet should take actions in respecting the mountains, protecting the indigenous mountain people and cherishing the culture of indigenous mountain communities. This is why we engage in and advocate for sustainable mountain development around the world.
"We hope that all of you will join in this international effort to save our mountains and our mountain people and culture."
The vice president of Uganda , the director of the Ministry of Water and Environment of Uganda, the director of the Ministry of Tourism of Uganda, officials of the UN Mountain Partnership, representatives of NGOs that promote sustainable mountain development, and environmentalists spoke at the forum as well. This forum served as a platform to share information and discuss the challenges and future opportunities for sustainable mountain development through building on the existing frameworks such as SDGs and Paris Agreement. A call for up-scaling actions has been drawn, entitled “ Don’t Leave the Mountains Behind”. Delegates agreed to promote sustainable mountain development when they return to their country and region.
On October 21st, His Holiness and his entourage met Umukuuka，the king of Inzu Ya Masaaba tribe as well as over 30 representatives of indigenous people. His Holiness and the tribe king discussed the challenges and difficulties facing traditional indigenous cultures and communities. The king invited His Holiness to collaborate with them on ecotourism. In return, His Holiness invited the tribe king to the “2017 World Indigenous Culture Festival” in New Delhi, India. The king gave his guests local coffee beans as gifts and His Holiness presented the sculpture of Lord Jigten Sumgon and autobiography as well as tea to the tribe king as gifts.
In October 20th and 21st, His Holiness visited an organic farming project in the Elgon mountain region. He blessed the local villagers who are suffering from poverty with great love, kindness, and compassion.
Mountains cover almost 27% of the world’s land surface and directly support the 22% of the world’s population. Mountains provide indispensable goods and services to a significant proportion of humankind. They supply half of the global population with fresh water for domestic use and lowland irrigation in support of global food security and playan important role in the production of hydropower as a form of green energy. Mountains are centres of cultural and biological diversity, sources of raw materials, and important tourist destinations.
Despite these key goods and services they provide, mountains still remain among the ecosystems least documented, offering services least accounted for. At the same time, many mountain regions are confronted with multiple risks and hazards, including wide spread land degradation, inequitable land rights, resource grabs, and dire poverty. Globally, approximately 40% of the mountain population in developing countriesis vulnerable to food insecurity, and half are chronically hungry. The situation is exacerbated by global climatic, environmental and socioeconomic changes. With uncertainties created by climate change, high population growth and land use change, urgent political actions are needed to enable environments at global and local levels and to facilitate the implementation of Sustainable Mountain Development (SMD) activities based on available knowledge and information while promoting investment in SMD.