Pictures to raise
Awareness on the challenges
Facing Mountain Regions


SMArt Programme to download (PDF)

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SMArt – Sustainable Mountain Art

Pictures to raise awareness on the challenges facing mountain regions

The SMArt programme aims to increase the perception of both decision-makers and the population as a whole of the challenges facing mountain regions through artworks, and more particularly photographs.

It has chosen to focus its attention on four themes which affect all mountain regions around the world: climate change, water resources, biodiversity and food security and migration.


Artists in residence and associated artists 

Within the framework of the SMArt programme, cultural partners in Switzerland welcome artists from the South or East. During their stay, the artists create a work of art reflecting how they perceive and understand the challenges of their host region.

SMArt also welcomes collaborations with Swiss artists, whether within exhibitions, common projects with artists in residence, or exchanges of artists with the partner countries.


Exchange, dialogue and sensitisation

The artists’ works are exhibited in Switzerland. During their residence, they participate in meetings with the general public, artists and professionals. The local decision-makers and population are thus confronted with a new vision of the realities facing them.

When the artists return to their own countries, their works and experience are promoted in partnership with a local cultural organisation and the debate with the local population continues.

The artworks of all associated artists are also shown in collective exhibitions in Switerland or elsewhere in the world, as well as in international events.


A vast network at the crossroads of culture and sustainable development 

Launched in 2014 by the Foundation for the Sustainable Development of Mountain Regions (FDDM), the SMArt programme will, over the next five years, create an extensive, multicultural network of artists, residences, cultural institutions and financial partners committed to the sustainable development of mountain regions.

The challenges facing mountain regions are those of the entire planet

Mountain regions

– cover 25% of the world’s total land mass
– are home to 12% of the global population
– account for 70% of the world’s water reserves
– host 25% of all terrestrial biodiversity


The United Nations has acknowledged their importance in sustainable development processes: Earth Summit (Rio, 1992), World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg, 2002), Rio + 20 (Rio, 2012), Sustainable Development Goals 2030 (adopted in 2015).


Sensitive ecosystems and vulnerable populations

Climate variations have a significant impact on mountain regions. Glaciers are melting, water availability levels are changing and arable land is shrinking. These phenomena are exacerbated by the intensive use of natural resources. The populations living in the mountains are among the poorest in the world and those most affected by food insecurity, making them the populations most often forced to migrate.


Wealth for the planet

However, the mountains are also the world’s water towers, providing drinking water for half the global population. They are home to a rich genetic variety of flora, fauna, crops and livestock as well as valuable traditional management practices.

Mountain communities and populations living in downstream areas rely on the mountains for a wide range of natural goods and services such as forest products, plants, energy and natural risk mitigation. The mountains are also cultural, spiritual and leisure sites.

Climate change knows no borders. It affects all the inhabitants of the planet, even if its impacts vary from one region to another. While the inhabitants of coastal regions are more particularly concerned by rising sea and ocean levels, people living in arid and semi-arid zones suffer from a lack of water.


Mountainous regions, which are home to one-fifth of the global population and serve as a freshwater reserve for more than half of humanity, are extremely sensitive ecosystems. Climate change in these regions threatens the livelihood of millions of inhabitants who are directly dependent on natural resources, creating new challenges in terms of food security, water and energy supplies and thus migration.

During the course of the 20th century, the global population tripled while freshwater needs increased six-fold. Today, one-third of humanity is already living in regions where the demand for water – to satisfy vital needs as well as agricultural or industrial needs – exceeds the existing resources. By 2025, half of the global population will be concerned by this problem. In the longer term, the entire world will be confronted by a global water shortage.

This situation will have negative consequences on local economies and social cohesion. It will also be a decisive factor of forced migration on a massive scale. Water – a vital resource – is thus becoming a key element not only of development and poverty reduction, but also of peace and political stability.

Sufficient and appropriate food is a human right. However, some 800 million people continue to suffer from chronic malnutrition. Of these, 80% are small-scale farmers, rural labourers, stock farmers or fishermen. The remaining 20% are city-dwellers.
The situation is not made any easier by the emergence of new challenges such as climate change, increased commercial pressure on land, the expansion of the biofuel segment, population growth and changing consumer habits.

Thus, in 2050, agriculture, fishing and stock farming will have to feed 2 billion more mouths using increasingly vulnerable natural resources. Identifying solutions means, among other things, maintaining and developing multi-functional family farming combining dietary, economic, social, environmental and cultural benefits.

Migration has always been an individual strategy to escape poverty, mitigate risks and construct a better life. In the current climate, it is influenced by several factors including conflicts, the economic situation and environmental conditions. Climate change increases the intensity and frequency of natural catastrophes, water resources are gradually being depleted in certain regions, in some cases leading to conflict, and local agriculture can barely satisfy the needs of the local populations.

These factors can lead to new migratory flows which give rise to new challenges in terms of managing the movement of people and their integration. The solutions to be introduced are founded on cooperation between the different stakeholders concerned, in both the migrants’ countries of origin and their host countries, with a view to reducing the negative effects of migration and achieving its positive potential.