Mountain territories

Budget 2018-2020: 100 000 €

At present 800 million people live in the mountains. Mountainous areas are often on the periphery and marginalized. They are frequently home to civilizations and ethnic groups that have been pushed aside by the processes of colonization and the formation of Nation-States. Mountains often serve as boundaries and may be geographically strategic for countries or corporations. There are more conflicts and wars in mountainous areas than anywhere else. Mountains are a source of water; they provide immense natural spaces, are covered with forests and help guarantee biodiversity. Many societies depend on the water supply that comes down from their slopes (example: the Himalayas and the immense populations of India and China.) This water may be used for drinking, irrigation, industrial purposes or even to make electricity. Mountainous areas also have abundant natural resources and most of the world’s mineral deposits.

Mountain populations, often communities with a culture shaped by the harsh natural environment, are strongly affected by globalization: mining and other non-sustainable activities have resulted in the disintegration of communities, as water and land have been taken over, mines and large dams built, and mass tourism encouraged; an exodus of populations has caused a loss of crops and a decrease in territorial diversity; rural poverty and the marginalization of populations in ‘grey areas’ have increased risk of conflict and war; finally, climate change is causing temperatures to rise twice as fast in mountain areas, melting glaciers and resulting in the irremediable loss of important world water supplies. The contributions of these populations may be reduced to ‘eco-system services’ (water, biodiversity, nature, minerals, etc. required by the global development model) that are integrated in new types of financial markets, and if that is the case mountain peoples will be even further excluded from their own cultures and have even less control of their own development.

Structuring mountain peoples’ movements on local, national and international levels, and connecting them in a network with other organisations involved in societal transition processes, are vital to the defence of these often-isolated territories and to obtaining better recognition of the political and cultural importance of their populations. The foundation supports organisations and movements of mountain populations in view of encouraging their structuration as well as their local, national and above all international expression and their capacity to participate in the transformation of these realities.

Programme : Transition to sustainable societies