Almost one billion people live in mountain areas, and over half the human population depends on mountains for water, food and clean energy. Yet mountains are under threat from climate change, land degradation, over exploitation and natural disasters, with potentially far-reaching and devastating consequences, both for mountain communities and the rest of the world.
Mountain Day refers to three different and unrelated events:
(1) Mountain Day, a student celebration in some colleges in the United States in which classes are cancelled without prior notice, and the student body heads to the mountains or a park,
(2) International Mountain Day, held each year on 11 December, which was established by the UN General Assembly in 2003 to encourage sustainable development in mountains, and
(3) Mountain Day, a national holiday in Japan as of 2016
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, 1 in 3 people in developing countries is estimated to be vulnerable to food insecurity.
Even though they are mentioned in the 2030 Agenda, mountains are still often forgotten. Considering the crucial role they play in providing key ecosystem goods and services to the planet and their vulnerability in the face of climate change, we need to step up and raise attention to mountains.
- Water as mountains are the world’s ‘water towers’, providing between 60 and 80 percent of all freshwater resources for our planet.
- Disaster Risk Reduction as climatic variations are triggering disasters.
- Tourism as mountain destinations attract around 15-20 percent of global tourism and are areas of important cultural diversity, knowledge and heritage.
- Food as they are important centres of agricultural biodiversity and are home to many of the foods that come to our table, such as rice, potatoes, quinoa, tomatoes and barley.
- Youth as despite the beautiful landscapes, life in the mountains can be tough, particularly for rural youth.
- Indigenous Peoples as many mountain areas host ancient indigenous communities that possess and maintain precious knowledge, traditions and languages.
- Biodiversity as half of the world’s biodiversity hotspots are concentrated in mountains and mountains support approximately one-quarter of terrestrial biological diversity