Mountains: harnessing sustainable development potential and managing risks
The SDC is active in mountain regions primarily in Latin America and Asia. Mountain communities are often highly vulnerable and face a variety of risks in connection with natural disasters. SDC efforts in mountain regions seek to reduce these risks. Meanwhile, mountains are also a great source of potential for sustainable development.
Mountain regions have always been a focus for SDC activities, which seek to create better living conditions and decent incomes for poor communities. This is because these often difficult environments are home to 12% of the world’s population.
People in mountain communities earn a tough living through small-scale farming, face harmful consequences from climate change, live under the continual threat of natural disasters (floods, landslides, avalanches), and generally have to travel long distances to access basic services.
The SDC supports numerous projects worldwide to help improve the lives and resilience of people in such communities.
Mountain regions harbour in fact a great deal of development potential. Mountainous areas host diverse ecosystems. They supply half of the global population with fresh drinking water. Provided they are protected and sustainably maintained, mountains offer a wealth of opportunities to generate incomes.
In Eastern Europe, the SDC is therefore working with local communities to promote local products and develop sustainable tourism. In Tajikistan, a vast irrigation infrastructure renovation programme is both increasing farm productivity and reducing the risk of flooding. In Peru scientific research is exploring ways to benefit from glacier melt – a phenomenon well-known to Switzerland – including the potential building of hydropower plants.
2017: International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development
The UN has declared 2017 the “International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development”. Tourism can be a catalyst for positive economic, social and environmental change. The SDC is involved in tourism-related projects in Eastern Europe, particularly in the Carpathian mountains.