11 December: International Mountain Day
International Mountain Day was observed across the world on 11 December 2017 with the theme ‘Mountains under pressure: climate, hunger and migration’.
The day provides an occasion to highlight how climate, hunger and migration are affecting highlands and to ensure that sustainable mountain development is integrated into the 2030 Agenda and in the implementation of the Paris Agreement.
This year’s theme is also linked to the Mountain Partnership Global Meeting, which is scheduled to be held from 11 to 13 December 2017 at the headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in Rome, Italy.
The meeting will focus on the challenges and opportunities in sustainable mountain development and will launch a Framework for Action to support concrete actions and establish policies that strengthen the resilience of mountain people and environment.
• The roots of the International Day go back to 1992, when the Chapter 13 of Agenda 21 “Managing Fragile Ecosystems: Sustainable Mountain Development” was adopted at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development.
• The increasing attention paid to the importance of mountains led the UN General Assembly to declare 2002 the UN International Year of Mountains.
• On the occasion, the UN General Assembly designated 11 December, from 2003 onwards, as ‘International Mountain Day’.
• The FAO is the coordinating agency for the observance of the day at the global level.
The Root Problem
• Mountain areas are home to almost one billion people. More than half of the human population depends on the mountains for resources such as fresh water, food and clean energy, which are becoming increasingly scarce with time.
• However, mountains are extremely vulnerable to climate change, deforestation, land degradation and natural disasters.
• In fact, 1 out of 3 mountain people in developing countries is vulnerable to food insecurity and faces poverty and isolation.
• Mountains are early indicators of climate change and as global climate continues to warm, mountain people face even greater struggles to survive.
• The rising temperatures also mean that mountain glaciers are melting at unprecedented rates, affecting freshwater supplies downstream for millions of people.
• Currently, around 39 percent of the mountain population in developing countries, is estimated to be vulnerable to food insecurity.
• As the vulnerability of the mountain populations will grow, migration to urban centres will increase.
• The out-migration trend would result in an inestimable loss in terms of provision of ecosystem services and preservation of cultural and agro-biodiversity.