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Remarks by Italy’s Permanent Representative Maurizio Massari at UNFF19 side event: Five Years of Action for the Sustainable Development of Mountain Regions – Promoting Mountain Forests

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Excellences,

Italy is honored to co-sponsor and contribute to this side event in the context of the UN Forum on Forests. I like to thank the Governments of Kyrgyzstan and Nepal, the Mountain Partnership and the other members of the Group of Friends of the Mountainous Countries for their excellent cooperation and commitment.

Italy is in the front row when it comes to restoring and preserving the mountains in all aspects and, for this reason, co-facilitated with Kyrgyzstan the resolution on “Sustainable Mountain Development” at the 77th Session of the General Assembly. This resolution, sponsored by 110 governments, clearly showed how critical sustainable mountain development is for the achievement of the SDGs and launched the 2023-2027 ‘Five Years of Action for the Development of Mountain Regions’.

Italy is a proud cofounder of the Mountain Partnership and a donor together with the Governments of Andorra and Switzerland to the Mountain Partnership Secretariat which is hosted by the FAO in Rome. We are the current Chair of the Steering Committee of the Mountain Partnership until the end of 2025.

Climate change is affecting major mountain ranges from the European Alps to the Himalayan Mountains. For this reason, we look forward to the Expert dialogue on mountains and climate change to be held in Bonn on 5th of June during the 60th session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice of UNFCCC. This expert dialogue, officially requested in the Global Stocktake of COP28, will provide an opportunity for scientists, policymakers and relevant communities to share knowledge, experience and insights on strengthening the resilience of mountain ecosystems.

We are aware of the strong mountains-forests nexus. Mountains cover around 27% of the earth’s land surface, and forests cover more than 40% of the global mountain area.

Mountain forests are key ecosystems that provide a wide range of ecological, social, and economic benefits: for example for water regulation, for biodiversity and for soil conservation.

Mountain forests have significant cultural and socio-economic value for local communities since they provide livelihoods through activities such as forestry, agriculture, and ecotourism.

All these co-benefits make forests one of the best examples of Nature-based Solutions.

Italy is committed to working together with FAO, which is the lead agency for sustainable mountain development in the UN system. In recent years, we supported the FAO Secretariat of the Committee of the Mediterranean Forestry Questions – Silva Mediterranea and the European Forestry Commission Working Party on the Management of Mountain Watersheds addressing issues related to forests and water, and to hazards and disaster risk management in mountains.

Through the Mountain Partnership Secretariat, Italy actively supports communities living in mountain forests worldwide. For example:

  • through the project Climate Change and Mountain Forests, the Secretariat assisted the Government of Papua New Guinea in the development and implementation of an innovative methodology that integrates appropriate biodiversity indicators into the National Forest Inventory, aimed at reducing the risk of unsustainable logging and improve the forest ecosystem management;
  • through the Business Incubator and Accelerator for Mountains and Islands, the Secretariat supported the indigenous community of the Nilgiris Mountain Biosphere Reserve, in India, to commercialize agroforestry products such as coffee and honey in a social enterprise framework.

To this respect, we need to do more for the mountain resources, which – if used sustainably – can provide socio-economic and cultural opportunities. Traditional crops and diets together with sustainable tourism developed in mountain areas can be instrumental in fighting food insecurity and enhance environmental protection, generate economic growth and promote local cultures and products.

The Five Years of Action for the Development of Mountain Regions 2023-2027 is a great opportunity to build commitments from countries for projects and investments for sustainable mountain development as we approach the 2030 Agenda.

Italy is fully committed to the implementation of the Five Years of Action, and would like to invite more countries to join the Mountain Partnership and become donors to the Secretariat. This will allow to jointly promote this plan for the benefit of the entire planet, as the planet needs healthy mountains and healthy forests.

Thank you.