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Mountains are home to 15% of the world’s population and host about half of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. They provide fresh water 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 and rising temperatures also mean that mountain glaciers are melting at unprecedented rates, affecting freshwater supplies downstream for millions of people.
The increasing attention to the importance of mountains led the UN to declare 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.
The theme for 2021: Sustainable Mountain Tourism
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 the 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, manage it better, and harness it towards a more resilient, green, and inclusive future. Sustainable tourism in the mountains can create additional and alternative livelihood options and promote poverty alleviation, social inclusion, and landscape and biodiversity conservation. It is a way to preserve the natural, cultural and spiritual heritage, promote local crafts and high-value products, and celebrate many traditional practices such as local festivals.
- 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.
- FAO International Day 2021
- UN World Tourism Organization- Mountain Tourism
- Mountain Partnership
- Climate Change
- Knowledge Platform: Mountains
- Mountains and the Sustainable Development Goals – a call to action
- Mapping the vulnerability of mountain peoples to food insecurity
- Why invest in sustainable mountain development
- Understanding Mountain Soils
- Mountain Ecosystem Services and Climate Change 
- Biosphere Reserves in the Mountains of the World
More information is available here:
Lawyer, Jharkhand High Court (India)
Global Representative (India), Roya Institute of Global Justice