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Landscape Approaches for Mountain Community Sustainable Development in a time of Climate Change

Farmers’ Seed Network (China) report of events held on 19 – 23 May 2016



There were two events that took place: (i) the Policy Consultation and South-South Exchange Workshop in Lijiang, Yunnan Province on 19-20 May 2016 to explore and promote community-led landscape approaches as critical tools for sustainable development, climate adaptation and poverty alleviation; (ii) INMIP Mountain Community Exchange Walking Workshop in Stone Village on 19-23 May. This is a brief report by the Farmers’ Seed Network and it is not the official report of the policy workshop.

The workshop was co-organized by the Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy (CCAP)/Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), UNDP GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP), Kunming Institute of Botany/CAS, Association for Nature and Sustainable Development (ANDES), International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), and International Network of Mountain Indigenous Peoples. Participants of the Lijiang policy consultation included 40 professionals from various UN agencies, government, research institutes, and NGOs. These professionals joined 35 community leaders and representatives from different countries around the world on 21-22 May 2016 in the Stone Village. Together they learnt about experiences with different integrated landscape approaches in China and globally, including Biocultural Heritage Territories, Indigenous Community Conserved Areas, Satoyama Landscapes, FAO Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Sites and UNESCO’s Biosphere Reserve approaches.

The Potato Park—Stone Village Mountain Communities Learning Exchange used a walking workshop approach that promotes cooperative learning and a plurality of knowledge systems, values and visions. About 35 to 45 participants included INMIP Peru, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and China representatives, UNDP SGP Nepal and China representatives, Farmers’ Seed Network (China) representatives, as well as local Naxi representatives from nearby communities.


On May 19, Dr. Yongping Yang, head of Kunming Institute of Botany (KIB) hosted the opening ceremony of the policy consultation workshop. Mr. Xingyuan Chen, Deputy Mayor of Lijiang, greeted all participants with welcoming remarks and gave a general overview of Lijiang’s world cultural heritage status and biocultural resources, as well as the Lijiang municipal government’s recent years’ work related to ecological civilization and poverty alleviation, and other aspects of the achievements made in the region.

As chief organizers, Mr. Alejandro Argumedo of ANDES Association introduced expectations and objectives of the policy consultation, followed by Dr. Yiching Song of CCAP, who presented in detail the workshop agenda and overall context to all participants. Gabriel Quijandria, the Vice Minister of the Ministry of Environment of Peru gave a keynote speech on Investing in Biocultural Landscapes to Achieve the SDGs in Mountain Environments, and officially opened the workshop’s excellent consultations.

Policy Consultation:Some Key Issues and Opportunities of the Mountain Sustainable Development

This workshop explored and promoted community-led landscape approaches as critical tools for sustainable development, climate adaptation and poverty alleviation. To achieve the goals in 2 days, the workshop was divided into the following sessions:

  1. Sustaining biodiversity and resilient food and agriculture systems in community managed landscapes

  2. Community Managed Landscapes, Community Resilience, and Sustainable Development

  3. Innovative Policies for Biocultural Heritage Stewardship

  4. Climate Change and Mountain EBA & CBA Collaboration for Adaptation

Mr. Alejandro Argumedo of ANDES presented Lessons from the Potato Park to introduce the model of Biocultural Landscapes Heritage (BCH) and Potato Park’s particular emphasis on using farmers’ traditional knowledge, their socio-cultural systems and institutions, and the role of local communities in managing local landscapes for holistic development (Sumak Causay). At the same time, he pointed out the challenges BCH landscapes face in the context of climate change. Lastly, Mr. Argumedo compared the Andean landscape cosmology to the Naxi landscape cosmology, highlighting the similarity. He also presented the Naxi-Quechua Cooperation to unveil the Stone Village BCH Landscape.

Dr.Yiching Song of CCAP then presented the Stone Village BCH Landscape, using the Resilient Innovation Systems Research Inquiry Framework to analyze the Naxi traditional knowledge and agricultural civilization in Stone Village. Dr. Song stressed that our conceptual change from ecological agriculture to bio-culture farming system is a significant transition as agriculture is not only about farming technology, but a whole comprehensive system. Our spiritual world, culture, and traditions are all embedded in our long farming history and agricultural civilization, which is the starting of our human civilization and also the essential base for sustainable development. And she introduced the recent progress of CCAP’s participatory action research as Participatory Plant Breeding (PPB) and Community Seed Bank establishment and linkage to public gene banks in Yunnan Academy of Agricultural Sciences and KIB, and the thousand-year-old water irrigation system sheltering villagers from climate change. Above all, she emphasized all the BCH elements are rooted in the Naxi culture and wisdom in the human and the nature harmonious coexistence.

Professor Shengji Pei of KIB presented Natural and Spiritual Value of Indigenous Sacred Natural Sites (SNS) in Yunnan emphasizing that SNS is important for local and indigenous peoples’ spiritual cultural expression and worship sites and serves as community education site for biodiversity conservation. Prof. Pei highlighted Sacred Natural Sites ethno-ecological knowledge was accumulated through human interactions with the environment in its history, and SNS as an indigenous value system. Over the last 50 years, SNS were threatened due to rapid economic development and cultural changes. In 2013, the government of Yunnan issued ‘Biodiversity Conservation Strategy and Action Plan (2013-2030) of Yunnan’; but more importantly is now developing management methods and demonstration on conservation of SNS at the ground level.

Two case studies of Potato Park and Stone Village, which are both guided by a common framework of Bio-culture Heritage Territory presented by Krystyna Swiderska from IIED, led to an important issue of how to adapt to the challenges of globalization and climate change in the mountainous communities.

Professor Dayuan Xue of Minzu University of China shared his insight on Access and Benefit-Sharing of Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge in China. Professor Xue introduced the main points of Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and Nagoya Protocol, and walked participants through the ABS policies and regulations in China, with a case study of traditional knowledge and resource of rice and medicinal plants protection in South-west China. He concluded that there is rich biodiversity in Chinese minority areas and ABS should involve indigenous and local community. However, Nagoya Protocol implementation depends on domestic legislation, but it is a long way and complicated issue. (China officially became a Party to the Nagoya Protocol in June 2016.)

Director Yoke Ling Chee of Third World Network presented Aichi Biodiversity Targets and showed a comparison analysis between Aichi Targets and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Ms. Chee pointed out some underlying opportunities including ongoing work on indigenous and local systems and NOT just one notion of science, and community work is especially crucial; also some challenges like “biopiracy” threat in the form of patent and plant breeders’ rights and no fair benefit sharing with farmers. She also highlighted new trade and investment agreements that contradict the Aichi Targets and SDG.

Dr. Delfin Ganapin, Dr. Terence Hay-Edie, and Ms. Yi Liu from UNDP SGP presented Indigenous Peoples’ and Community Conserved Territories and Areas (ICCAs) and stressed that “ICCAs are successful examples of collective decision-making about nature, the oldest form of ‘conservation’ on earth, and closely related to peoples’ livelihoods, culture and identity.”

Director Jian Liu of UNEP International Ecosystem Management Partnership (IEMP) presented Synchronizing issues of climate, ecosystems and livelihoods for SDGs as a contribution to South-South cooperation. Director Liu indicated that the synergies of Economy-Society-Environment dimensions have had a paradigm shift from “balancing” since 1972 to “interacting” since 2012 to the Post- 2015 SDG/PA synergy of “integrating” the three dimensions of sustainable development into one entity. The future synergy has formed the conceptual framework, objectives, impacts, and implementation of the South-South cooperation.

On the theme of poverty reduction, Dr. Yuan Liu from Oxfam Hong Kong explained China’s great achievement as the first country to realize the Millennium Development Goal target of “reduce the poor population by a half” and now Targeted Poverty Reduction is the major policy measure in China. Concurrently, the Chinese government highlights the necessity to learn approaches and mechanisms from other countries on poverty reduction issues and hopes to share China’s experiences with other developing countries through South-South Cooperation.

Director Zongwen Zhang of Bioversity International-China presented the Opportunities and Challenges of GIAHS Policies and Implementation in China. China has increasingly realized the importance of biological and cultural diversity in its ecological civilization strategy and green social transition, and has supported multi-functional landscapes through initiatives such as the FAO’s Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Sites (GIAHS).

In addition to the introduction of conceptual frameworks and case studies on sustainable development and poverty reduction for mountain communities, many other issues were also discussed in the next session of round table discussion. Even in the coffee break, most participants still discussed the related topics with enthusiasm.

Round Table Discussion on Biocultural Heritage Landscape Designation

The last session of the Policy Consultation was the round table discussion around two major questions:

  1. How can the various designations/initiatives collaborate in the development of a biocultural heritage designation that support indigenous-lead holistic landscape approaches? Is it necessary?

  2. Would it help to develop a common set of indicators, which can be used by landscape initiatives promoting biocultural heritage and indigenous-lead holistic landscape approaches?

Most participants expounded their views on the above two issues. The lively discussion among the different representatives of groups reached the following consensus:

Indigenous Communities: Peru's Potato Park is a very good integrated biocultural system, in which the conceptual framework and practices can contribute to the Stone Village, other INMIP members and mountain communities for community-led sustainable development and adaptation to climate change. UNDP SGP also has very good cases; we need support to use these outstanding cases, systems and networks for scaling up, and to increase policy advocacy and policy optimization.

Researchers and Scientists: Biocultural landscape, including eco-services, biodiversity, forest and soil are threatened by both economic development and climate change, so we need supporting policy institutions and tools to combine scientific knowledge and traditional knowledge together to support community-led development and adaptation to climate change. In addition, cultural and ecological values need to be taken into account, demanding the need for trans-disciplinary and trans-level cooperation.

Policy Making Institutes: We have a variety of biocultural landscape assessment methods and suggestions, but there is a need for a common platform. Therefore, it is necessary to recognize and collaborate with each other in different countries, different ministries, different levels, and different aspects to develop a common framework with a common set of indicators, which can benefit the sustainable development of indigenous peoples and local communities.

Dr. Yiching Song, summarized and concluded at the end of the workshop:

To echo the workshop objectives of exploring and promoting community-led landscape approaches, policy consultation participants had significantly analyzed and shared practices associated with enhancing resilience, sustainable agriculture, genetic diversity and mountain ecosystems, responding to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Aichi Targets, and Satoyama Initiatives targets. This workshop is a big success serving as a common ground for policy makers, researchers, and community workers to exchange and dialogues directly and equally. Most importantly, to achieve the objectives of sustainable development, climate adaptation and poverty alleviation, we, including indigenous communities, scientists, NGOs, policy makers, will need continuous exchange and collaboration for further mutual understanding, recognition, and support for our common SDGs!

Walking Workshop: Mountain Network Bridging Asia to South America on 19-22 May 2016

While the consultation participants were exchanging views on policy advocacy and optimization in Lijiang, in the same region, 126 km away, the community exchange participants were trekking in the valley of upper-reaches of the Yangtze River, discovering the Naxi traditional knowledge and traditional farming culture in Stone Village, in particular the millennium-old but still vibrant terraces and irrigation system, and the related spiritual and cultural values and custom laws.

On 19 May, Mr. Shanhao He, 76 year-old president of Stone Village Elders’ Association, led five members from Potato Park to the water source, followed the irrigation canals all the way down to the riverside, and took a boat tour to observe and admire the Stone Village landscape from the opposite side of the river. Throughout the journey, the Potato Park team listened to the splendid history of Stone Village and visited the altar of prayer to heaven, ancient horse road, former Baoshan prefecture centre, beacon tower and other cultural and historic sites.

Meanwhile, the Potato Park team conducted a rapid Biocultural Heritage Appraisal with preference ranking for Biophysical factors, Cultural factors, and Socioeconomic factors and identified existing and potential Stone Village BCH practices. After the data compilation and review, Potato Park team drew a Stone Village Landscape Map and took the map to the West Gate with honey wine and Andean drum, inviting finish-work-and -return-home villagers to doodle their houses on the map and talked about their version of the Stone Village.

On 20 May, the big group of INMIP and UNDP SGP family members joined the cooperative learning of the walking workshop by visited the Community Seed Bank and Participatory Plant Breeding fields. In the seed bank, there are 108 varieties in total on display. Among that, there are 69 local landraces of rice, maize, sorghum, vegetable; 22 soybean PVS (participatory variety selection) varieties and 17 PPB varieties from local or Farmers’ Seed Network communities. The seed bank displayed a floor-to-ceiling map of The Vertical Distribution of Plants in Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Area, with associated photos showcasing typical plants in each distribution zone. With help from the Lijiang Alpine Botanic Garden of KIB, the community seed bank also displays 25 local plant specimens.

All the mountain communities’ representatives visited the Stone Village water source and did a simulation there to share the BCHT model together. During the group discussion, the indigenous peoples from various countries shared the experience of their own or the community. Facing the same challenges from economic development and climate change, different indigenous communities each shared their unique experience and wisdom. Through the mutual exchange of experience sharing, all the participants extended brother/sisterhood, broadened horizons and enhanced self-identity and self-esteem.

Ms. Tammy Stenner, coordinator of ANDES stated: "Stone Village’s beautiful natural scenery and unique irrigation canals system contain tremendous potential. There is rich in biodiversity, and farmers here through self-storage and exchange of seeds, to ensure the sustainability of crop diversity. The wonder of Stone Village’s ancient irrigation canals and water management system, ensure the village is not affected by drought constraints. However, we also found that Stone Village is facing many challenges, such as the development of the tourism industry, the impact of climate change, farmers began to buy seeds, such as maize and cash crops. The other mountain communities are faced with the same challenge. Through the walking workshop, we mountain community indigenous representatives shared and learned experiences, these will have a positive impact on farmers. At the same time, such exchanges will also strengthen INMIP's global influence, send a native voice to the world."

Mr. Wenchuan Mu, farmer leader of Stone Village stated: "Stone Village’s irrigation canal system and terrace have had a long agriculture history for centuries. Thanks to our ancestors and farmers in the Stone Village, we inherited the rich water resources and traditional knowledge of crops variety management. The irrigation canals have been responsible for water use of production, domestic and fire control functions. Villagers still plant traditional varieties in the terraced fields. But in the last decade, migrant labor gradually increased, resulted in some of the abandoned plots, the planting area of rice decreased gradually due to labor and water shortage. Lately, Stone Village is getting more and more attention and the intensity of investment in tourism development is becoming huge. But Stone Village, with a living area of only 0.5 square kilometers, cannot afford such risk. If there is no feasible and effective system and method to govern this piece of paradise, the result will be very bad. "

The results of the exchange served as the basis of the community-led policy dialogue for the next two days.

The Long Journey: Dancing for Solidarity by the Yangtze River

On 21 May, policy consultation participants joined the rest of the mountain communities group in Stone Village. A Naxi welcome dinner greeted warmly all the friends coming from afar. Naxi music, dancing, laughter, and authentic rice wine all served the hospitality of this ancient Naxi homeland. That night, at the bonfire party, all friends held hands to form a circle and enjoyed themselves in the traditional Naxi dance.

On 22 May, the INMIP representatives opened the dialogue by presenting their exchange and evaluation results to the policy consultation participants. Both sides discussed how to continue and maximize the Stone Village Biocultural Heritage Territory Model for policy optimization, and reached the "International Network of Mountain Indigenous Peoples—Stone Village Declaration", see annex. The Stone Village Declaration will be presented at the UNFCCC COP22 in Marrakesh in November 2016.

On 23 May, all workshop participants waved goodbye to the Stone Village and took a boat ride to return to Lijiang. The mountainous landscape and Jinsha River closed the curtain for the Lijiang Policy Consultation and South-South Exchange Workshop.



Thanks to the our farmer friends in Stone Village and staff from Lijiang Alpine Botanic Garden/KIB and China Zigen Rural Education & Development Association, especially to Wenchuan Mu, Shanhao He, Yichang Mu, Xiuyun Zhang, Ruizhen Li, Hua Huang, Haimei Lijang, Feng Li and Milin Tian for their hosting and contribution to the workshops’ logistic arrangements. Thanks to our photographers, Qing Yang, Yulin Gao and Charlie Chen, for providing most of the photos included in this report.

Introduction to Farmers’ Seed Network (China)

The full name of Farmers’ Seed Network (FSN) is the National Farmers’ Participatory Breeding and Seed-Sharing Network. FSN is a nationwide farmers’ seed network, jointly initiated and coordinated by the Liang Shu-Ming Rural Reconstruction Center (LRRC), Center for Chinese Agricultural Policy (CCAP) and Third World Network (TWN) in December 2013. Until now, FSN has covered 26 core action communities in 7 provinces in Hebei, Henan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Chongqing, Guangxi, and Yunnan covering North, East and South-west China.

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