Promoting action to build resilient and sustainable island communities

2012 IUCN World Conservation Congress

Date: Friday 22 June 2012
Location: Mountain Pavilion
Host: Italy
Strategic Priority: Maintain a flexible and efficient Partnership responsive to its partners’ needs and aspirations



This side event highlighted the potential for collaboration between two partnerships supported by Italy – the Mountain Partnership and Global Island Partnership. The event promoted discussion among policy makers and development partners on specific challenges and potentials of sustainable management of islands' mountain ecosystem services.

Key messages from the event included:

  • The need to have everyone working together to reach agreed targets and goals
  • Partnerships are a mechanism to work together to solve common problems
  • Islands need to focus on ridge to reef as what happens in the mountains impact on the reefs quickly


Speakers included:

  • The Hon. Senator George Prime, Minister for Carriacou and Petite Martinique Affairs, Grenada
  • The Hon. Col. Samuela Saumatua, Minister for Local Government, Urban Development, Housing and Environment, Fiji Islands
  • Kate Brown, Coordinator, Global Island Partnership
  • Prof. Claudio Conese, Italian National Research Council (CNR) and University of Sassari, Italy
  • Dr. Alfredo Guillet, Focal Point for Environment, Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Directorate General for Development Cooperation, Italy
  • Ms. Marilyn Headley, CEO & Conservator of Forests Forestry Department, Ministry of Agriculture, Jamaica


The Mountain Partnership (MP) is a voluntary alliance of partners dedicated to improving the lives of mountain people and protecting mountain environments around the world. The Mountain Partnership addresses the challenges facing mountain regions by tapping the wealth and diversity of resources, knowledge, information and expertise, from and between one another, in order to stimulate concrete initiatives at all levels that will ensure improved quality of life and environments in the world’s mountain regions.

When we discuss mountain development, we generally don’t picture islands in our minds, and vice versa. And yet innumerable islands have mountains, and the problems they face in their efforts to work towards sustainable development can be, in spite of their isolation, more related to those faced by some continental mountain regions than to the problems of other islands, such as the atolls.

When dealing with the management of their mountain ecosystem services, islands may face a combination of challenges. The quick succession of different ecosystems, sometimes ranging from snow-capped mountains to coral reefs within a few miles and with only narrow buffer zones, if any, intensifies the interactions between terrestrial/mountain and costal/marine ecosystems. And that, furthermore, aggravates the need to carefully tackle such interactions with an interdisciplinary approach, at different levels and scales.

In turn, the adverse impacts of current climate trends, together with an increased incidence of natural disasters, call for innovative management strategies, in addition to emergency preparedness practices and resilience planning. In islands more than elsewhere, degraded mountain ecosystems -even when economically marginal- can have a highly negative impact on more productive areas and activities, such as lowland soils, coastal tourism, invasive species management and more.

Generally, the knowledge and the lessons learned acquired within a given thematic network - be it in the framework of the Island Partnership, or the Mountain Partnership - tend to be circulated within the members of the same network. And yet, that information could be particularly valuable to others, if shared across fraternities, as this could help identify knowledge gaps and prioritize research activities to ensure proper tailor-making of development actions to the islands’ specificities, as well as provide guidance to development partners on priority needs for development.

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