Let’s celebrate International Mountain Day

    12 Dec 2021

    International Mountain Day, held each year on 11 December, was established by the UN General Assembly in 2003 to encourage sustainable development in the mountains.

    December 11, “International Mountain Day”, was designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 2003. The General Assembly “encouraged the international community to organize events at all levels on that day to highlight the importance of sustainable mountain development.”

    International Mountain Day is observed every year with a different theme relevant to sustainable mountain development. FAO is the U.N. organization mandated to lead observance of International Mountain Day.

    The theme for International Mountain Day 2010 was “Mountain minorities and indigenous peoples.” It aims to raise awareness about indigenous peoples and minorities who live in mountain environments and the relevance of their cultural heritage, traditions and customs.

     

    Sustainable mountain tourism

    The theme of this year’s International Mountain Day (IMD) on 11 December will be sustainable mountain tourism.

    Sustainable tourism in mountains can contribute to creating additional and alternative livelihood options and promoting poverty alleviation, social inclusion, as well as landscape and biodiversity conservation. It is a way to preserve the natural, cultural and spiritual heritage, to promote local crafts and high value products, and celebrate many traditional practices such as local festivals.

    Mountain tourism attracts around 15 to 20 percent of global tourism. Tourism, however, is one of the sectors most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, affecting economies, livelihoods, public services and opportunities on all continents. In mountains, the restrictions of the pandemic have further compounded the vulnerabilities of mountain communities.

    This crisis can be seen as an opportunity to rethink mountain tourism and its impact on natural resources and livelihoods, to manage it better, and to harness it towards a more resilient, green and inclusive future.

    In the coming months, FAO, leading UN agency for this International Day, will prepare communication materials in all six UN languages, which will be available on their website. Hard copies will be available upon request.

    While sustainable mountain tourism is the suggested theme for 2021, countries, communities and organizations are welcome to celebrate IMD through a theme that is more relevant to them.

    Celebrate this International Day 2021 with your community and friends preparing an event or joining the conversation on social media using the hashtag #MountainsMatter. Pass on some of the key messages, or share about the biodiversity in the mountains near you, or a photo of your favorite mountain.

     

    Natural jewels we should treasure

    Mountains are home to 15% of the world´s population and host about half of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. They provide freshwater for everyday life to half of humanity. Their conservation is a key factor for sustainable development and is part of Goal 15 of the SDGs.

    Unfortunately, mountains are under threat from climate change and overexploitation. As the global climate continues to warm, mountain people – some of the world’s 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.

    This problem affects us all. We must reduce our carbon footprint and take care of these natural treasures.

    The increasing attention to the importance of mountains led the UN to declare to 2002 the UN International Year of Mountains. The first international day was celebrated for the first time the following year, 2003.

    Its roots date back to 1992, when the document “Managing Fragile Ecosystems: Sustainable Mountain Development” (called Chapter 13), was adopted as part of the action plan Agenda 21 of the Conference on Environment and Development.

     

    Did you know?

    • Mountains host about half of the world’s biodiversity hotspots and 30% of all Key Biodiversity Areas.”
    • Of the 20 plant species that supply 80% of the world’s food, six originated and have been diversified in mountains: maize, potatoes, barley, sorghum, tomatoes, and apples.
    • More than half of humanity relies on mountain freshwater for everyday life.

    + More info in this FAO poster

     

    Resources

    Websites

    Reports

     

    International Mountain Day 2021: Sustainable mountain tourism

    This FAO website highlights the importance of sustainable mountain tourism. It can help you to create awareness and take action for bringing positive change to mountain peoples and environments around the world. Celebrate mountain day in the best way possible! Visit a mountain!

     

    Related Observances

    There are many international days related to the mountains. Discover the interaction between this natural resource and other issues, such as climate change, flora, fauna and human beings. We encourage you to visit Environment Day, Water Day, Wildlife Day, or Indigenous Peoples Day.

    Reports

     

     

    https://www.fao.org/international-mountain-day/en/

     

    Key Messages

    Sustainable tourism in mountains

     

    Mountain destinations attract around 15-20% of global tourism. 

    Mountain tourism, particularly when linked to nature and rural tourism, can promote sustainable food systems and value local products.

    Tourism can play a key role in valuing and protecting the natural and spiritual heritage of mountains, and the cultural diversity and traditional practices of mountain peoples.

    Low-impact tourism can help limit threats to mountain ecosystems and their biodiversity.

    Since COVID-19, visits to open air, less crowded, domestic destinations have increased, opening new opportunities for mountain destinations to rethink their products and services.

     

    Mountain biodiversity

    Mountains loom large in some of the world’s most spectacular landscapes. Their unique topography, compressed climatic zones and isolation have created the conditions for a wide spectrum of life forms.

    Mountains host about half of the world’s biodiversity hotspots and 30 percent of all Key Biodiversity Areas.

    Mountains are home to many endangered species.

    Many of the world’s most important crops and livestock species originate in mountains.

     

    Mountains

    Covering around 27% of the earth’s land surface, mountains play a critical role in moving the world towards sustainable economic growth.

    Mountains not only provide sustenance and well-being to 1.1 billion mountain people around the world but also indirectly benefit billions more living downstream.

    Mountains provide freshwater, energy and food – resources that will be increasingly scarce in coming decades.

     

    Mountain peoples

    Mountains are home to 15% of the world’s population.

    Ninety percent of the world’s mountain dwellers live in developing countries, where a vast majority live below the poverty line and 1 out of 2 faces the threat of food insecurity.

    Mountains are places of tourism and cultural trails. Mountain tourism accounts for about 15-20% the global tourism industry.

    Indigenous and local populations in mountains have unique and valuable local knowledge, traditions and cultural practices that can contribute to effective land management strategies.

     

    Mountain products

    Mountain products and services have great potential to improve livelihoods and boost local economies.

    Worldwide demand is on the rise for quality, high-value foods and beverages produced in mountain areas, such as coffee, honey, herbs and spices, as well as handicrafts, cosmetics and medicines.

    To fully tap the potential of mountain products, small producers would benefit from targeted support in adequate value chains and marketing strategy, which would allow them to obtain fair compensation for their specific quality products as well as provide added value to the customers.

     

    Mountains and water

    Mountains provide up to 60-80 percent of the world’s freshwater – without which sustainable development that aims to eliminate poverty and hunger would not be possible.

    Fresh water from mountains is fundamental for achieving global food security, as it is used by farmers to irrigate crops in many lowland agricultural regions.

    Some of the world’s largest cities, including New York, Rio de Janeiro, Nairobi, Tokyo and Melbourne, are dependent on freshwater from mountains.

     

    Mountains and energy

    Mountains have a key role to play in providing renewable energy, especially through hydropower, solar power, wind power and biogas.

    Hydropower currently provides around a fifth of all electricity worldwide, and some countries rely almost exclusively on mountain regions for hydropower generation.

    Mountains in regions with a dry or tropical climate hold particular potential for the generation of solar energy.

     

    Mountains and food

    Mountains contribute to food and nutrition security by providing land for crops, grazing for livestock, watercourses for inland fisheries, and non-wood forest products such as berries, mushrooms and honey.

    Mountain farming has been a model for sustainable development for centuries and is inherently “green” thanks to its small-scale character and low-carbon footprint.

    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, tomatoes and apples.

     

    Mountain family farming

    Mountain farming is largely family farming as mountain areas, with their dispersed patches of usable land at different elevations and slope conditions, are more efficiently managed by small scale farming.

    Most of the production of mountain farming is for family consumption, playing a key role in ensuring household food security.

    The production and marketing of high-value mountain products can boost local mountain economies.

    Mountain livelihoods tend to be highly diversified and this has proven to be a key to resilience. Some family members may work in agriculture (farming, forestry, aquaculture or animal husbandry) and may be employed on a regular or seasonal basis or even abroad.

     

    Overview

    The International Mountain Day has its roots in 1992, when the adoption of Chapter 13 of Agenda 21 “Managing Fragile Ecosystems: Sustainable Mountain Development” at the United Nations (UN) Conference on Environment and Development put a milestone in the history of mountain development. The increasing attention to the importance of mountains led the UN General Assembly to declare 2002 the UN International Year of Mountains. On this occasion, the UN General Assembly has designated 11 December, from 2003 onwards, as “International Mountain Day”. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is the coordinating agency for the preparation and animation of this celebration (IMD) and is mandated to lead observance of it at the global level. The Water and Mountains Team of the FAO Forestry Department is responsible for coordinating this international process.

     

    What are United Nations international observances?

    Since the early days of the United Nations (UN) system, the UN has established a set of days (as well as weeks, years and decades) to help focus the world on the issues in which the UN has an interest and commitment. The UN calls on member states and other organizations to mark these days in ways which reflect their priorities.

    International Mountain Day 2021

    The theme of this year’s International Mountain Day (IMD) on 11 December will be sustainable mountain tourism.

    Sustainable tourism in mountains can contribute to creating additional and alternative livelihood options and promoting poverty alleviation, social inclusion, as well as landscape and biodiversity conservation. It is a way to preserve the natural, cultural and spiritual heritage, to promote local crafts and high value products, and celebrate many traditional practices such as local festivals.

    Mountain tourism attracts around 15 to 20% of global tourism. Tourism, however, is one of the sectors most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, affecting economies, livelihoods, public services and opportunities on all continents. In mountains, the restrictions of the pandemic have further compounded the vulnerabilities of mountain communities.

    This crisis can be seen as an opportunity to rethink mountain tourism and its impact on natural resources and livelihoods, to manage it better, and to harness it towards a more resilient, green and inclusive future.

    In the coming months, we will prepare communication materials in all six UN languages, which will be available on our website. Hard copies will be available upon request.

    While sustainable mountain tourism is the suggested theme for 2021, countries, communities and organizations are welcome to celebrate IMD through a theme that is more relevant to them.

     

    What can you do?

    Raise awareness of mountains on 11 December by organizing safe, socially distanced activities, including virtual presentations and events, photo and art competitions, and hikes.

    Join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #MountainsMatter. Pass on some of the key messages or share about the tourism in the mountains near you. 

    Mountain tourism – Towards a more sustainable path

    FAO and UNWTO launched a new publication to celebrate International Mountain Day 2021 – download here.

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    Read our author’s column about the “sixth global extinction” that has already begun here.

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