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.
The Hindu Kush Himalayan region has been hit hard by the impact of climate change. With support from the SDC, an international learning and knowledge-sharing centre is helping the locals adapt to the new realities.
After the devastating earthquakes of 2015 in Nepal, rebuilding efforts supported by the SDC included the trail bridges, which are essential for the local populations living in the Himalayan mountains.
Central Asia’s glaciers are melting. This means that the distribution of water resources in the region needs to be reassessed. The SDC is helping to train top local scientists and support joint water management.
Around 12 per cent of the world’s population lives in mountainous regions – life for them is anything but easy. Their livelihoods are threatened by receding glaciers, deforestation, climate change and natural disasters.