Tuesday, April 16, 2013

ICIMOD's Youth Ambassadors Champion the Mountain Agenda*

The year 2012 was an important one for ICIMOD; it marked 20 years since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio recognized the importance of mountains by introducing Chapter 13 as a separate chapter in Agenda 21 – also known as the Mountain Agenda. As part of UNCED’s follow-up (Asia’s regional response to Agenda 21, Chapter 13), ICIMOD organized the first regional conference in Kathmandu, Nepal in December 1994. The participants of this conference adopted a declaration on the Sustainable Development of Mountain Areas of Asia – known as the SUDEMAA Call to Action – which resulted in the creation of the Asia-Pacific Mountain Network (APMN).

APMN is a communication platform that facilitates information and knowledge sharing and advocates for the mountain agenda in the Asia-Pacific region. Over the last two decades APMN has made significant contributions by involving different stakeholders (such as governments, development partners, local communities, civil society, youth and media), facilitating networking and partnerships among them at different scales, and promoting two-way communication and knowledge exchange. 

One of most important steps forward has been realizing the need to engage youth in the sustainable mountain development process and developing suitable platforms for them to advocate for the mountain agenda at the national, regional, and global levels. ICIMOD’s Youth for Sustainable Mountain Development (Y4SMD) initiative is such a platform. Since it began in 2009, the global membership of Y4SMD has grown to almost 4,000 members, the majority of whom are from ICIMOD’s regional member countries – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan. Y4SMD has been involved in e-conferences, national campaigns, Climate Cafés, knowledge sharing workshops, the Earth Debate, capacity building events, and networking-advocacy meetings on the sideline of international events such as the Annual Adaptation Forum, Rio+20 Conference, and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties (UNFCCC COP) 17 and 18.

Representative articles/pictures etc are available at https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.570285699671252.1073741825.100000694825417&type=1

Several other youth-led initiatives in the HKH region have also benefitted from ICIMOD’s sponsorship, knowledge, and network. The Asia-Pacific Mountain Courier, APMN’s biannual periodical, and social networking platforms (such as Facebook, Twitter, discussion lists, blogs) have proved to be important platforms for young emerging leaders to share their views and initiatives, network with others, and find out about different opportunities. In the last four years ICIMOD has trained over 500 youth on mountain issues from 20 Asia Pacific countries through capacity building workshops, Climate Cafés, and various forums such as the Asia Pacific and the Hindu Kush Himalayan Regional Forum, Eastern Himalayas Sub-Regional Forum, and national youth forums in ICIMOD’s regional member countries.

In 2012 alone, hundreds of youth were engaged in advocating for the mountain agenda from the national to global level through the Earth Debate (February), Mountain Youth and Green Economy side event at the Planet Under Pressure Conference (March), National Youth Rio+20 preparatory and follow-up campaigns in Nepal and Pakistan (throughout the year), various side events at Rio+20 Conference, and the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) Youth Blast (June). Likewise, the Global Youth Forum in Rio de Janeiro (June), Asia Pacific Youth Forum on Green Economy (September), and national youth forums in Pakistan (November), Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal (all in December) trained over 280 youth on the green economy in the context of mountain development. All of these events were driven by ICIMOD Youth Ambassadors with minimum guidance or support from ICIMOD. Some ICIMOD Youth Ambassadors attended the UNFCCC COP 18 in Doha, at which they organized the Second Global Youth Forum and a knowledge café on mountain issues. Last, but not the least, the Member’s Mountain Courier you are reading now is also prepared by Youth Ambassadors as part of ICIMOD’s efforts to take youth initiatives to the national level.

- Anja Møller Rasmussen, Senior Manager, ICIMOD; and Tek Jung Mahat, APMN Node Manager, ICIMOD

* This is the key highlights of the activities carried out in the year 2012 itself in preparation of and following –up Rio+20 conference in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil in June 2012. All these activities were implemented by ICIMOD through the Asia Pacific Mountain Network (APMN) Project in partnership with several national, regional and global youth initiatives, youth organizations and youth alliances.

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