The world’s most spectacular mountain landscapes are under threat. Climate change and global warming, unsustainable farming practices, the abandonment of agricultural activity or depopulation are some of the threats to the mountain environment. It represents a major problem due to the relevance of these natural elevations that cover about 27% of the earth’s land surface, are home to 15% of the world’s population, provide fresh water, and host about half of the world’s biodiversity hotspots.
To give visibility to all these threats, the United Nations (UN) proclaimed 2002 as the International Year of Mountains. Since then, the International Mountain Day (IMD) has been celebrated every 11 December. It is coordinated by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), which is the lead UN agency on mountains.
The FAO hosts the Secretariat of the Mountains Partnership, the only UN alliance dedicated to mountains and mountain people. The Mountain Partnership Secretariat determines the theme of each IMD and works together with FAO to coordinate global celebrations.
The origins of International Mountain Days date back to 1992, when the Conference on Environment and Development was held at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro to establish international cooperation on climate and environment and development issues and goals for the 21st century. At this event, several funding texts were elaborated such as the Agenda 21, an action plan for implementing sustainable development at territorial level, including the document “Managing Fragile Ecosystems: Sustainable Mountain Development”, also called Chapter 13, which implements the basis of a sustainable development in mountain areas.
For the UN, the International Mountain Day aims to raise awareness of the importance of the value of mountains and to highlight opportunities and constraints in mountain development to bring positive changes. The IMD is also strongly linked to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), such as SDG 6 on Water, SDG 8 on Work and Economic Growth, SDG 12 on Consumption, SDG 13 on Climate Action or SDG 15 on Life on Land.
Take a look and discover the themes of the International Mountain Day since 2002 in an infographic developed by the Horizon 2020 project MOVING. For more information on this year’s theme, “Sustainable mountain tourism”, click here.