International Mountain Day (IMD) took place under the theme ‘promoting mountain products,' with the aim of highlighting the potential of mountain products and services to contribute to livelihoods and sustainable employment in mountain areas.
The Day highlighted opportunities for growth, such as the production of high quality, high value products like fair trade, organic cocoa, coffee, herbs, honey, spices and other niche market products, and underscored constraints in mountain development, especially with regard to food insecurity and climate change.
11 December 2015: International Mountain Day (IMD) took place under the theme ‘promoting mountain products,’ with the aim of highlighting the potential of mountain products and services to contribute to livelihoods and sustainable employment in mountain areas. The Day highlighted opportunities for growth, such as the production of high quality, high value products like fair trade, organic cocoa, coffee, herbs, honey, spices and other niche market products, and underscored constraints in mountain development, especially with regard to food insecurity and climate change.
An increasing number of mountain people are food insecure, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) observed on the Day, for which FAO and the Mountain Partnership Secretariat launched the study, ‘Mapping the vulnerability of mountain peoples to food insecurity.’ The report finds that the number of food insecure people living in mountain regions in developing countries increased from 253 million in 2000 to 329 million in 2012. In mountain areas, one in three people face hunger and malnutrition compared to one in nine people globally. The study highlights challenges faced by mountain dwellers, including their dependence on subsistence agriculture in “fragile ecosystems that are easily affected by climate change.”
The publication also presents regional vulnerability to food insecurity. In Africa, nearly 86 million mountain people are considered vulnerable to food insecurity, a 46% increase between 2000 and 2012, with the majority of them located in east Africa. In Latin America and the Caribbean, the proportion of vulnerable mountain peoples has remained stable, at around 48 million in 2012. The number of vulnerable in Asia increased by 26% to 192 million people.
“The living conditions of mountain peoples have deteriorated and their vulnerability to hunger has increased,” FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva reflected. He said, “harsh climates and the difficult, often inaccessible terrain, combined with political and social marginality…contribute to making mountain peoples particularly vulnerable to food shortages.” He called for investing in mountain areas as part of efforts to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Mountain communities are expected to be “among the first to bear the brunt of climate change,” Mountain Partnership Secretariat Coordinator Thomas Hofer said. Hofer explained that higher temperatures will allow diseases and pests to move up mountain slopes while climate change is also expected to result in greater incidences of avalanches, floods, landslides and other storms in mountains that will affect communities’ access to roads, markets, health services and schools.
Also on the Day, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) launched a series of Mountain Adaptation Outlooks, including on adaptation in the South Caucasus, the Tropical Andes, the Central Asian mountains and East Africa. The studies illustrate climate changes impacts on mountains and recommend supporting ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) in mountain regions to build resilience and reduce the vulnerability of mountain communities and those living downstream.
IMD celebrations included mountain product fairs, sporting events in the mountains, film festivals, conferences and other events in Algeria, Bolivia, Chile, Croatia, India, Iran, Italy, Morocco, Nepal, Spain, the US and other locations. [UN Press Release] [FAO Press Release] [Mountain Partnership Press Release] [Mountain Day Website] [UNEP Press Release] [IMD News] [IMD Key Messages] [Publication: Mapping the vulnerability of mountain peoples to food insecurity]