“#MountainsMatter” is the theme chosen for this year’s celebration of International Mountain Day.
The United Nations General Assembly designated 11 December “International Mountain Day” in 2003. Since then, it has been observed every year to create awareness about the importance of mountains to life, to highlight the opportunities and constraints in mountain development and to build alliances that will bring positive change to mountain peoples and environments around the world.
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.
#MountainsMatter for Water as mountains are the world’s ‘water towers’, providing between 60 and 80 percent of all freshwater resources for our planet. However, all available records indicate that glaciers in mountain ranges around the world are retreating and disappearing due to climate change. At least 600 glaciers have disappeared completely over the past decades, affecting water supplies relied on by billions living downstream.
#MountainsMatters for Disaster Risk Reduction as climatic variations are triggering disasters. Avalanches, mudflows and landslides are tumbling downstream, stripping bare forests, flooding communities and populations.
#MountainsMatter for Tourism as mountain destinations attract around 15-20 percent of global tourism and are areas of important cultural diversity, knowledge and heritage. Although mountain tourism has the potential to foster economic development in remote and isolated regions, many mountain communities are still not benefiting and live in poverty.
#MountainsMatter for 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. Yet, they are home to some of the hungriest peoples in the world with a high vulnerability to food shortages and malnutrition, and climate change is affecting mountain agriculture.
#MountainsMatter for Youth as despite the beautiful landscapes, life in the mountains can be tough, particularly for rural youth. Abandoning their villages in search of employment elsewhere has led to an absence of young people and an increasing labour shortage. Migration from mountains leads to an increase in abandoned agricultural, land degradation and often forest fires. At community level, cultural values and ancient traditions are lost.
#MountainsMatter for Indigenous Peoples as many mountain areas host ancient indigenous communities that possess and maintain precious knowledge, traditions and languages. Mountain peoples have developed remarkable land use systems and have a wealth of knowledge and strategies accumulated over generations on how to adapt to climate variability.
#MountainsMatter for Biodiversity as half of the world’s biodiversity hotspots are concentrated in mountains and mountains support approximately one-quarter of terrestrial biological diversity. Mountains are home to rare animals such as gorillas, snow leopards and the majestic tahr as well as strikingly beautiful plants such as orchids and lobelias.
International Mountain Day 2018 will be an occasion to create a large social movement that can bring mountain issues on the tables of politicians. Through a global campaign, a social media strategy and events around the world, we plan to tell the world that the current neglect of mountains and mountain peoples must stop. We therefore ask everyone to use the hashtag #MountainsMatter in all their communications specifying why mountains matter for them.
While “#MountainsMatter” is the suggested theme for 2018, institutions, communities and organizations are welcome to choose a different theme that might be more relevant to them for International Mountain Day.
In the coming months, we will prepare communication materials in all six UN languages, which will be made available on this website and distributed as hard copies to those who request them.
Meanwhile, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with news of the celebrations you are planning so we can publish this information on the International Mountain Day website.