About International Mountain Day
2017 THEME: MOUNTAINS UNDER PRESSURE: CLIMATE, HUNGER, MIGRATION
International Mountain Day came into being in 2002, the International Year of Mountains, with United Nations General Assembly Resolution 57/245. The First International Mountain Day was celebrated in 2003. The purpose of International Mountain Day is to bring focus to “sustainable development in mountain regions” and “eradication of poverty in mountain regions” (United Nations General Assembly 2002).
Mountains have long been, “places of religious worship, pilgrimage and rituals all over the world”(Food and Agriculture Organization 2017). Due to the rugged and often difficult to traverse geography of mountain regions, the diversity of Mountain cultures and languages has been retained. Furthermore, “mountain peoples have long held vital roles in the management of their ecosystems. Over the centuries, they have developed remarkable land-use systems, climate change adaptation approaches, traditional diets and mountain products that are unique and rich in globally significant biodiversity” (FAO 2017). According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, however, “the stability of mountain populations, each with different values and belief systems, is threatened by migration, urbanization and conflict” (FAO 2017).
Mountain regions affect the whole world. Their vitality is essential for downstream food security. Freshwater from mountain regions is used in agriculture. Mountains are sites of production for renewable energy: hydropower; solar power; wind power; and, biogas. Hydropower currently provides around a fifth of all electricity worldwide (FAO 2017).
Mountain cover 22% of the earth’s land surface
Mountains are home to 13% of the world’s population, 90% of whom live in developing countries; one in three face the threat of food insecurity
Mountain Tourism Accounts for 15-20 percent of the global tourism industry
Mountains provide 60-80% of the world’s freshwater
“Of the 20 plant species that supply 80 percent of the world's food, six originated and have been diversified in mountains: maize, potatoes, barley, sorghum, quinoa, tomatoes and apples” (FAO 2017)
MOUNTAINS UNDER PRESSURE: CLIMATE, HUNGER, MIGRATION
The United Nations 2017 theme is guided by these principles:
Mountains are early indicators of climate change and as global climate continues to warm, mountain people — some of the world’s hungriest and poorest — 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. Mountain communities, however, have a wealth of knowledge and strategies accumulated over generations, on how to adapt to climate variability.
Climate change, climate variability and climate-induced disasters, combined with political, economic and social marginalization, increase the vulnerability of mountain peoples to food shortages and extreme poverty. Currently, about 39 percent of the mountain population in developing countries, or 329 million people, is estimated to be vulnerable to food insecurity.
As the vulnerability of mountain populations grows, migration increases both abroad and to urban centres. Those who remain are often women, left to manage the farms but with little access to credit, training and land tenure rights. Out-migration from mountain areas will also result in an inestimable loss in terms of provision of ecosystem services and preservation of cultural and agrobiodiversity. Investments and policies can alleviate the harsh living conditions of mountain communities and reverse out-migration trends from mountain areas.
International Mountain Day 2017 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.