Mountain territories are the main supplier and reservoir of fresh water on the planet.

Access to drinking water in the world is one of the clearest markers of the divide between rich and poor populations. This reality often conditions access to other equally important areas: sanitary networks, food, electricity, first aid, education.

This marker is all the more striking given that the drinking water supply system that we know, particularly in Europe, and which is in itself a recognized development criterion, is also a means of lowering the cost of water by sharing the service for the entire community.
People who do not have access to quality drinking water in their homes are doubly penalized. They spend more to provide themselves with drinking water, to compensate for the logistics required to supply these peripheral areas in agreement with and sometimes on the bangs of state structures that are too often inoperative. However, these populations are also subject to water stress resulting from global warming, which has an impact on the quantity of water in natural reservoirs. On the other hand, they may also find themselves pushed out of watershed areas by the authorities, or pushed out of large cities away from access points to springs or municipal drinking water networks. Their territories are nevertheless the object of a veritable institutionalized hold-up by large groups of purely capitalist and speculative inspiration on the part of companies, or even organizations with global reach. Totally illegitimate hydroelectric dams, unlicensed exploitation of primary resources (oil, ore, agricultural resources, forests) exclusively monopolized and transformed in order to be sold, in denial of any recognition of the reality of the people and the territories in question, to external clients. This is a formidable misappropriation of funds and natural assets.

The concrete case of the Equatorial Andes and Lima (Peru)

The WMPA has begun to project itself on the region of the Equatorial Andes where it has historical contacts. This area, representative of the mountain territories peripheral to the States, has populations that are landlocked or on the outskirts of large centers.

The latter are impoverished by their geographical situation and do not represent a priority at the national level.

Agriculture has become a source of tension in water sharing

Land use in the region is mostly family farms, of small size, from 0.1 ha to 10 ha, with an average of 1 ha. These farms are the most affected by several factors:
– the loss of the water-regulating functions of the páramo as a result of the decrease in its surface area due to the advance of the active pioneer front and its overexploitation,
– low hydrological efficiency of irrigation due to poor infrastructure, inappropriate techniques of water application in plots and inequitable and inappropriate distribution with too long water towers and too high flows,
– Domestic and industrial water pollution and erosion of agricultural land,
– the ineffective action of institutions to solve problems and organize water management.

All of these constraints weigh heavily on this area of medium or high mountains, representative of mountain areas throughout the world. However, tillage allows these populations to achieve economic self-sufficiency while at the same time being the means to feed the community without resorting to national or international charity.

Drinking water, still difficult to access for all families

But water is becoming scarce because of the melting of its glaciers and is unevenly distributed in the country. This is why today six million Peruvians still do not have access to drinking water. They must therefore buy water, which is very expensive, brought by tanker trucks or use untreated stream water which causes many diseases. And to address this problem, the government tends to favor the coast and Lima to the detriment of medium and high mountain areas.

But it also affects poor people throughout the country: “The worst thing is that people in poor neighborhoods of Lima pay much more for water than people in rich areas,” says Abel Cruz, who since 2005 has chaired the “waterless” movement, an association that fights for Peruvians deprived of access to drinking water.

Poor people pay six times more for water that they are not even sure of its quality. In fact, the owners of some trucks take water from polluted underground aquifers, instead of getting it from Sedapal, the public company in charge of treating water in Lima, as they are legally obliged to do.

Cooperation between mountain territories

The WMPA wants to encourage decentralised cooperation between mountain territories in order to develop exchanges of initiatives and know-how: management of water and natural resources, transport, tourism.

Cooperation with Corsica and Overseas Territories

For the first time in France, a regionalist majority has won the elections in Corsica and is in a management position. The legislative elections also gave them 3 deputies of the same sensibility (Inseme per a Corsica). Faced with great difficulties in their relations with the government for the implementation of their projects, they are looking for facilitators and actors in the management of conflicts, particularly in the mountains. They are interested in the WMPA initiative. In addition to the reciprocal benefit that we could derive from a partnership, we have many points to score in terms of notoriety and vital external recognition.

The abandonment of territories, particularly mountain territories in France and Europe by public authorities has become totally dramatic. It is accompanied or has been preceded by a historical collapse in the political representation of mountain dwellers throughout the continent (and far beyond!).

Now, in order to have a chance to “come back”, Man precisely needs to recover not only space but also values and political power. The mountain, because of its handicaps but also because of its ability to strike consciences, can finally have a role to play in its dimension. It is urgent to seize it. The WMPA, the Charles Léopold Mayer Foundation for the Progress of Humankind (FPH), the Heritage Institution of Haut-Béarn (IPHB), can constitute the vectors capable of initiating, accompanying and spreading the movements. Therefore, as we have already seen through the vastness of the territories, allies and assets will not be lacking.

As for the overseas territories, they are literally in agony, abandoned by the same French authorities. Their deputies no longer have any illusions and no hope for metropolitan France. The WMPA can and must also regain a place with these populations, their elected representatives whose destiny no longer seems to be part of the concerns of our country.

Mountain Label

The WMPA is working on the development of an international label for mountain products, allowing all types of production of goods and services from the mountain regions of the world to be qualified, with the dual aim of improving the economy of these regions and enhancing their culture. This global label “products of the world’s mountain people” will be proposed as an “umbrella brand” for labels more specific to a particular mountain region and/or a particular mountain product. It will be developed in the framework of a broad partnership with the existing international organisations and with the national and regional representations of the WMPA who will be the initiators of the approach.

The setting up

During its meeting on the 4th and 5th September 2003 in Ispoure (France) the WMPA Plenary Board decided “to think about the setting up of an international label for mountains” concerning the various products from mountain areas (crafts, agriculture, tourism, etc.) whether intangible (services, etc.) or tangible (objects, buildings, etc.). (cf. point 4 of the 2003-2004 action programme). To this end, a working group was set up and began to draw up the main elements of the specifications for such a label and to imagine the conditions for its implementation.


At its meeting in Ispoure (September 2003), the WMPA set itself the objective of setting up an international label for mountain products, capable of qualifying all types of production from the mountain regions of the world, with the dual aim of improving the economy of these regions and enhancing their culture.

A WMPA working group was looking further into the project and drew up an “orientation document” and the concrete methods of implementation, in application of the “charter of the world’s mountain populations”, the common values of the mountain populations’ lifestyles constituting the basis of the label.

This global label “products of the world’s mountain people” could be an “umbrella brand” for labels more specific to a particular mountain region and/or a particular mountain product. It would be developed in the framework of a broad partnership with the existing international organisations and with the national and regional WMPAs, which would be the first prime contractors of the project.

This approach would take into account the existing and planned labels (which only concern certain products and/or certain regions) and which would have to be assessed.

This project was presented to various member organizations of the International Mountain Partnership (www.partenariatmontagne.org), led by FAO, which recognized its interest.

The WMPA office held in Turin in December 2004 confirmed the agreement of the association’s leaders on this project, but showed the need to set up specific means to implement it.

This labelling project is a useful complement to other steps taken by the WMPA, in particular that of establishing a list of the laws and regulations specific to mountains in the different countries of the world.

Aim of the approach

The aim of the approach is therefore to define, in a partnership way, the content, the conditions for the implementation, the management and the promotion of an international label for mountain products, integrating current or projected labels, with the aim of developing the mountain economy while enhancing mountain cultures.

Contents of the study and animation project

The project will be carried out with the help of specialized consultants in 8 mountain regions of the world: Himalayas, Andes, North America, Europe, Mediterranean, South East Asia, Japan, Africa, represented within the WMPA. Coordination will be set up at the global level.

For each mountain region, an assessment of the existing labels (and a status of the projects) concerning the mountains will be carried out: nature of the labels, management method, results.
Then the consultant will have to establish a statement of the expectations of the mountain populations of the region concerning the WMPA labelling project, to be coordinated with the market prospects.
Finally, he will be able to establish, by region, proposals for a “regional” label : content, conditions of certification, control, promotion, animation among the mountain populations.

At the global level, a consultant will coordinate, animate, (possibly relaunch) the regional approaches and will feed them by circulating information. He will then establish the characteristics of the “umbrella” brand, the conditions of its certification, its control, its recognition and its promotion at the global level.
*** Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version) ***


Project management / partnership

  • The WMPA association is the project owner of the study. A steering group “labeling” will be set up within the WMPA, which will include a specific representative of the 8 mountain regions and to which the international partnerships concerned will be associated.
  • Local steering groups will be set up by the regional WMPAs in the same spirit.
  • An invitation to tender will be launched for the WMPA for the recruitment of the team of consultants