In November 1998, the UN General Assembly declared 2002 the International Year of Mountains. This decision offers a good opportunity and exciting challenge in the follow-up to Chapter 13 (Sustainable Mountain Development) of Agenda 21. It provides a unique platform to reinforce the long-term process started at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCEP) in Riode Janeiro, Brazil of raising public awareness and ensuring adequate political, institutional and financial commitment to concrete action for sustainable mountain development, hopefully well beyond 2002.


The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has been charged by UN Resolution with the responsibility as lead agency for the International Year of Mountains. Working in cooperation with the International Foundation for the Protection of Drinking Water on topics chosen for the “Essence of Life” – Documentary in general and involved with mountain area topics in particular, FAO will provide general guidelines and a framework for all institutions and individuals involved in mountain-related issues. We will also explore the networks involved in mountain-related issues, proposed activities and the vision for this work, through this proactive and participatory process.


Armed with a deeper understanding that comes from our ever-increasing knowledge of Mountain areas we must now focus on the major role they play in our fragile ecosystem. The future success of sustainable development of our environment may well be determined by the manner in which we as human beings treat our mountain areas in particular.