In the afternoon of 17th October 2016, the World Mountain Forum 2016 kicked off at Mbale Resort Hotel, in Uganda. The Forum started with a Special Africa Mountain Event where different Sustainable Mountain Development (SMD) actors presented updates on the progress of Africa’s SMD Agenda. During this event, school children from Mbale had the opportunity to convey their message which is summarized in the paragraph below. Watch the school children’s poem here. “We, the community of Mbale and Uganda at large, call for urgent action now; we are ready to join the fight for our wealth, health and social economic development. Mountains for our future, till we triumph beyond the stars“ Welcoming the delegates, Dr Sam Kanyamibwa, executive Director of ARCOS, said: “This forum is part of the long journey we are in, we depend on mountains, we live in mountains. We have been organizing this kind of gathering within last six years, this is the third time. The first was held in Lucerne, Switzerland, the second in Cusco in Peru and now in Mbale, in Uganda; but it is also it is from Africa to Africa, two years ago we had Africa Regional Mountain Forum and this year it is another opportunity for Africa to sit together to review and celebrate the mountains. This Afternoon we will be sharing what has been going on in Africa in regard to Sustainable Mountain development. I would like to thank Swiss Agency for Development and cooperation, the Government of Uganda and many other partners who made this gathering possible. Welcome all to the forum and welcome to Uganda”. Hon Jesca Eriyo, Deputy Secretary General, East African Community, who facilitated this session, reminded the delegates that mountains contribute much in the lives of not only the communities in upstream but also in downstream. She said, “If our mountain ecosystems are well managed, as we heard the message of these children, the future of our kids is also guaranteed. We need to put together our effort to make the voice of mountains heard in national, regional and international development plans. We need to note the linkage between the upstream and downstream in terms of benefiting those resources especially water and act accordingly.” We all live upstream, she added. During this session many SMD actors in Africa shared the progress of SMD in Africa and a panel discussion made by all kind of actors including community, public and private sector were held. The discussions highlighted key issues affecting mountain ecosystems and communities in Africa, including poverty, climate change, food insecurity and land degradation.
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