30 December 2021

A student of the UNIMONT centre of the University of Milan at the Quirinale for Mountain Day to present the “Mountain Education and Innovation Manifesto – MEIM”, launched at Expo 2020 Dubai.

The President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, met mountain stakeholders on Thursday 9th December at the Quirinale, for International Mountain Day. During the celebration, the Honorable Mariastella Gelmini, Minister for Regional Affairs and Autonomies with responsibility for the enhancement of mountain areas, and Qu Dongyu, FAO Director General, highlighted current and future challenges to accelerate sustainable mountain development. Furthermore, on this occasion, a student of the Unimont Edolo Campus – a University of Milan Centre – talked about her university experience and presented the “Mountain Education and Innovation Manifesto – MEIM”.

“One of the strengths of my university experience “in the mountains” is precisely the direct and daily contact with the local territory, useful for learning but also to acquire an awareness of the peculiarities and priority needs of mountain contexts to be valorized, which only those who live there can fully understand. From a methodological and operational point of view, however, my university experience is not only “local” because my fellow students, who come from all over Italy, and I, are part of one of the largest Italian state universities and, thanks to the network of which the Edolo Campus is a part and to the use of technology, we can interact with the best scholars, experts and actors of mountain territorial development at a regional, national and international level”.

Thus Magda Ciullo, student of the Undergraduate Course in Development and Protection of the Mountain Environment of the University of Milan which takes place at the UNIMONT Centre – Edolo campus of the University of Milan, which has for over 20 years been providing specific training, research and third mission activities for the sustainable development of mountain territories, talks about the uniqueness and most important aspects of her university career during the celebration of Mountain Day, in the presence of the President of the Republic – Sergio Mattarella, of the Minister for Regional Affairs and Autonomies with responsibility for the enhancement of mountain areas – Mariastella Gelmini, the Minister of Tourism – Massimo Garavaglia, and numerous other institutional representatives of Italy.

A unique experience for this young student who was able, also on behalf of all those who took part in drafting the document, to present the “Mountain Education and Innovation Manifesto – MEIM” officially launched during the week dedicated to Climate and Biodiversity held in early October 2021 at Expo 2020 Dubai. The Manifesto was drawn up by more than one hundred young people from 28 different countries around the world, who participated with enthusiasm and great interest in the “Youth4Mountains” program promoted by the UNIMONT centre of the University of Milan in collaboration with the Mountain Partnership, which led to the presentation of the official document during the “Connecting Youth and Mountains, Creating a lively Future” event organized at Expo 2020 Dubai.

“A Manifesto in which we ask for attention for the specificities of mountain areas, which despite representing 27% of the earth’s surface, providing up to 80% of the fresh water resources of our planet and being biodiversity hotspots, as well as “home” to 1.1 billion people worldwide, are often characterized by a lack of basic infrastructure and services, and scarce job opportunities especially for skilled workers which are usually concentrated in urban areas”.

Magda explains that, like many of her fellow students in the undergraduate course, she has chosen to study in a small mountain town because she wishes to live and work in the mountains, contributing with appropriate knowledge and professionalism to increase the competitiveness of such areas.

In the Manifesto, young people ask to be helped to acquire knowledge and to use appropriate and innovative tools and methods to successfully face local and global challenges, old and new in mountain areas: from depopulation to the loss of services and competitiveness, from climate change to the loss of biodiversity and the transition processes – ecological and digital – towards new models of sustainable development. In addition, they ask that high quality education be guaranteed even in mountain areas, in addition to access to digital technologies and essential services, reducing the gap that exists today between urban and mountain areas. Young people are asking for the conditions to be created so that innovative ideas can be transformed into successful businesses even in the mountains, through actions, tools and measures adapted to the territorial and socio-economic specificities of these territories.

To date, the Manifesto has been signed by over 150 institutions in 32 different states. They are Universities, Associations, Research Centers, Schools, Companies that, from European mountain ranges such as the Alps, the Apennines and the Pyrenees, to the large mountain ranges worldwide such as Hindu-Kush/Himalaya and the Andes, reaffirm their commitment to promote sustainable development in mountain areas.

This is therefore a “first step to build and strengthen strategic alliances, to make our voice heard and to share our commitment to the mountains,” concludes Magda thanking those present for the important invitation to Rome, held as part of the day dedicated to the mountains.

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