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International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development 2022

Mountains Matter: For People and the Planet

Why do mountains matter?
Source: Mountain Partnership


On 16 December 2021, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 2022 as the International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development (IYM2022) at the proposal of the Kyrgyz Government. The resolution was sponsored by 94 governments — including Canada and the United States —  and invites the Mountain Partnership, in collaboration with all relevant organizations, to facilitate the observance of the Year.

The Mountain Partnership is the only United Nations alliance dedicated to improving the lives of mountain peoples and protecting mountain environments around the world. The Mountain Partnership counts over 450 members, including governments, IGOs, private sector, NGOs, universities and research institutes. The Mountain Partnership Secretariat is hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and funded by Andorra, and Switzerland.

The IYM2022 is a unique opportunity to raise awareness about the role of mountains and mountain people for our planet and sustainable development as well as for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is a chance to catalyze action and investments to build the resilience of vulnerable mountain communities and ecosystems in the spirit of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: to leave no one behind.

This International Year also marks the twentieth anniversary since the proclamation by the United Nations General Assembly of the International Year of Mountains 2002 as well as the 20th anniversary of the Mountain Partnership.

The IYM 2022 Launch Event was Thursday April 28, 2022

Now more than ever, as the climate crisis progresses, food insecurity increases and the pandemic lingers, there is need to empower vulnerable mountain communities who are often left behind in policymaking.

To celebrate the IYM2022, an online event was held on April 28, 2022. This event officially launched the celebrations of the Year and promoted commitments between mountain practitioners, policy-makers, scientists and private sector actors to galvanize action in line with the SDGs.

The event featured a high-level segment with statements from António Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General; Roberto Natali, Plenipotentiary Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Italy and Chair of the Mountain Partnership Steering Committee; QU Dongyu, the FAO Director-General; Abdulla Shahid, President of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Maldives; and Sadyr Japarov, President of the Kyrgyz Republic
Countries that will provide statements include Andorra, Bhutan, Dominican Republic, Kyrgyz Republic, Nepal, Uganda and Switzerland, and the Governor of the American state of Colorado.

The event also included a more technical segment to provide an overview on how to mobilize action for sustainable mountain development, focusing on supporting climate-resilient development and climate funding in mountains. Youth Mountain Partnership Goodwill Ambassador Dilshodbegim Khusravova provided concluding remarks for the event.

International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development 2022 

 Why do mountains matter?

Mountains are among the most important ecosystems for the survival of our planet, providing essential goods and services. Not only are they home to 1.1 billion people, but they also provide 60-80 percent of the global freshwater resources for domestic consumption, irrigation, industry, food, and energy production. While the relevance of mountains for the sustainable agenda is increasingly recognized, efforts are still needed to eradicate chronic poverty and hunger of mountain peoples and to protect the fragile mountain ecosystems.

Mountain people are among the hungriest in the world. A 2020 study by FAO, the Mountain Partnership Secretariat and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification adds further evidence that in rural mountain regions of developing countries, food insecurity is still prevalent, and the study demonstrates that between 2000 and 2017 the share of rural mountain people vulnerable to food insecurity in developing countries constantly increased. The 2020-2021 COVID-19 crisis and the restrictions adopted by countries to respond to it have amplified the existing vulnerabilities of mountain communities.

Mountain communities’ livelihoods are rooted in mountain agriculture, and mountain agrobiodiversity is key to sustainable food systems as well as to people’s resilience to climate change. Many mountain producers are conserving mountain agrobiodiversity through the cultivation and production of high quality mountain products (coffee, teas, spices, pulses and ancient grains) and sustainable pastoral systems, but need support in capacity development and in making their value chains more efficient to improve livelihoods.

Key Facts and Messages

Mountains cover about 27 percent of the earth’s land area and are home to 1.1 billion people (15 percent of the world’s population) (SDG 15).

Mountain ecosystems provide important ecosystem services to billions of people living downstream, such as stabilizing slopes, regulating climate, regulating hydrological cycles, and supporting livelihoods (SDG 13).

Mountains are of paramount importance as water towers, both for mountain people and for around 2 billion people living in connected lowland areas (SDG 3).

Mountains host about half of the world's biodiversity hotspots and 30 percent of all Key Biodiversity Areas, as well as vital genetic resources for locally adapted crops and livestock (SDG 15).

Mountain destinations attract about 15-20 percent of global tourism (SDG 8). Tourism can play a key role in valuing and protecting the natural and spiritual heritage of mountains

Sustainable food systems are drivers of mountain development due to their potential for small and medium-sized enterprises, and their links with tourism and niche markets (SDG 1, 2, 8, 12).

Mountains have a key role to play in providing renewable energy, especially through hydropower, solar power and wind power (SDG 7).

Investing in the building of sustainable infrastructure, including roads and trains is critical for sustainable mountain development (SDG 9).

Urban mountain settlements, in particular small towns, provide basic services to mountain people living in the surroundings and are hubs of sustainable development (SDG 11).

Environmental and social challenges

Climate change is negatively impacting food security, agriculture and the provision of ecosystem services across many different mountainous regions worldwide (SDG 13).

Snow cover, glaciers and permafrost in mountain areas are projected to continue to decline in almost all regions throughout the 21st century. This has implications on water supply in the lowlands, such as a reduced river flow during summer and dry seasons, with implications on large irrigation schemes (SDG 6, 13).

Climate-related hazards, such as flash floods and landslides, have contributed to an increase in disasters, affecting a growing number of people in mountain regions and further downstream (SDG 15, 13).

Mountain ecosystems are at risk from uncontrolled dumping and open burning of waste, including plastic waste (SDG 15).

One out of two rural mountain people in developing countries is vulnerable to food insecurity (SDG 1, 2).

When mountain people migrate, it has multiple positive and negative impacts on their livelihoods and communities as well as on mountain ecosystems (SDG 8, 10, 15).

The COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions adopted by countries to respond to it have amplified the existing vulnerabilities of mountain communities, whose livelihoods rely mostly on agriculture, tourism and remittances.

Notes for editors

The slogan for the International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development is: Mountains Matter: for people and the planet

The IYM2022 logos and slogan are available for download on the IYM2022 Trello board. Currently, materials are available in Arabic, Catalan, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Rumantsch, Russian, Spanish and Swahili.

Relevant links

Mountain Partnership
International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development 2022
International Mountain Day

Mountain Partnership Social Media Channels:

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