Mountains are mighty–and not just in size. Mountains are significant pillars of the ecosystems and the overall livelihood on earth. For them not to crumble under the pressure of climate change, immediate actions need to be implemented across the globe.
The crumbling pillar
Around 27% of the earth’s surface is covered with mountains. Some hike the mountains to relieve stress, and others settle and create communities on their slopes. The ecosystems provide homes for various animal and plant species while providing us with woods, drinking water, and clean air. In short, mountains are essential.
Unfortunately, mountains are also fragile. Climate change and human behaviors have made mountains especially vulnerable and unhealthy, which will impact the lives on earth that are heavily dependent on them.
Based on the Kyrgyzstan government’s proposal, the year 2022 was proclaimed by the UN as the International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development. Coincidentally, this year also marked the Sixth Global Meeting of the Mountain Partnership, held every four years.
Taking the theme of “Mountains Matter: Ideas to Action/Building Alliances for Resilient Mountains,” the meeting intended to address the challenges facing mountain ecosystems and communities.
Mountain Partnership was founded by the Governments of Italy and Switzerland, the UN FAO, and the UNEP in 2002. The members are national governments and international organizations concerned with mountain sustainability.
The sixth meeting commenced on 26-29 September 2022. On the 27th, four panel sessions addressed different challenges for mountains. The summary is as follows:
- Climate action: recognizing the impact of climate change on mountain communities and areas and the need to step-up adaptation and take action from the local to the international level.
- Ecosystem restoration and protection: showcasing examples of successful projects through private-public partnerships, government-led incentives, and legal frameworks, and highlighting the critical areas of improvement required for sustainable progress.
- Building sustainable mountain ecosystems: discussing the points of mountain agriculture productivity, tourism, empowerment for women on mountains, and the complexity of multi-stakeholder partnerships.
- Financing opportunities: discussing the importance of integration across sectors and emphasizing that investments require a long-term perspective that includes innovative financing.
Five years forward
Following its proposal last year, Kyrgyzstan readdressed the need for action plans. According to Nurlan Aitmurzaev, Special Envoy of the President of the Kyrgyz Republic on Mountain Issues, the primary goal is to declare 2023-2027 as the “Five Years of Action for the Development of Mountain Regions” with the focus on implementing a development fund, developing programs, and establishing a global mountain university.
Panel sessions were also held to discuss the future actions needed for mountain sustainability. The summary is as follows:
- Transboundary cooperation: discussing approaches and opportunities for managing transboundary mountain regions and the role of transboundary networks in ensuring biodiversity and cultural conservation.
- Alliances, advocacy, processes, and UN conventions: underlining the need for a flexible international coalition for mountains under UN Conventions and the importance of mainstreaming international discourse about mountains into the UN system.
- Science and knowledge for policy: highlighting the importance of integrating local communities into scientific perspectives, bridging gaps through communities of practice, and shifting power relationships through Indigenous-led research.
- Innovation, infrastructure, and digital connectivity: underscoring the aspects of innovation, including the across-sector integrations, social impacts on women and villages, and multi-stakeholder and international alliance efforts.
Read the meeting’s full summary report here.
Editor: Nazalea Kusuma
Madina is the Assistant Manager for Program at Green Network Asia. She is an English major graduate from Universitas Indonesia with two years of professional experience in editorial and creative writing, researching, editing, and creating content.