Erzurum convergence

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

IT FELT lonely flying in to Erzurum, Turkey. There were supposed to be three potential participants to the Fourth Global Meeting of the Mountain Partnership. I was the only one who flew out, not just from the Philippines but the whole of Southeast Asia.

I’m still woozy from the grueling two day trip from Silay Airport-NAIA 2 to NAIA 1, then to Doha Airport, Qatar to Istanbul, then the final leg, Erzurum. In between those stretches, I had to snatch sleeps in-between snacks. Getting some shut-eye was more important than killing time watching on-board video.

I flew to Erzurum to join 180+ delegates endorse the new four-year strategy and governance of the Mountain Partnership and to initiate work on its implementation. As a member of the Mountain Partnership Task Force that met in Rome last year, I took an active part in preparing the final draft.


I’m also organizing a Side Event on mountain forest conservation and the green economy: non-timber forest product development, organic agriculture, payment for ecological services for communities, win-win conflict resolution (for example, extractive industries or government megaprojects versus ancestral domains based on needs based solutions over rights-based litigation); and sustainable mountain tourism.

I will touch largely on the sustainable mountain development experiences of the Broad Initiatives for Negros Development (BIND) and that of the Non-Timber Forest Product-Exchange Programme of South and Southeast Asia.

Several delegates expressed interest in joining the Side Event. So far, I have already met with Sra. Magda Campos Barrante from the National Meteorological Institute of Costa Rica. We interacted extensively over emails on the conduct of my Side Event. It was fun to practice my Spanish with her, and her English with me.

Magda will hold a Mountain Partnership Fair event on the Costa Rican tactics for forest fire prevention and management in tropical mountains to preserve ecosystems in her country. She will discuss how her office interacts with other government agencies, civil society and the private sector, and other government institutions.

Another delegate who will join my Side Event is Dharmalingam Venugopal of the Nilgiri Documentation Centre who is appealing for support for the Western Ghats, a chain of mountains running 1,600 kilometers across six states along the western coast of India.

Then there’s the Kalyan Paul of the Pan Himalayan Grassroots Development Foundation (or simply Grassroots). He will discuss community driven efforts for renewal of hydrology, re-vegetation of degraded commons, and appropriate technologies on drinking water, sanitation, rainwater harvesting and renewable energy. Grassroots will also touch on solidarity economy with the establishment of social enterprises with their triple bottom-lines of economy, ecology, and equity.

Then there’s Luis Felipe Cesar of Crescente Fértil who will deal with the creation and integrated management of mountain protected areas in Brazil. I’m looking forward to swap experiences with him, sharing my time as the BIND representative as a civil society representative of the Mt. Kanlaon Natural Park’s Protected Area Management Board.

Then there’s Musuq Briceño of the Consorcio para el Desarollo de la Ecorregión Andina (CONDESAN). CONDESAN researches on natural resource management in Andean rural societies, to promote policy dialogs with local actors, national organizations, and regional organizations.

This Mountain Partnership meeting promises to be the best, so far. There is so much to learn from one another and to teach each other. And of opportunities to work together, not as organizations working separately on remote, rugged, isolated areas of the world but as a team of people with shared visions for a better life among peoples who call mountains their homes.

(Please send email to

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on September 18, 2013.


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