Year of first observance.

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Of the earth’s land surface is made up of mountains.

Billion people live on mountains.

Covering around 22 percent of the earth’s land surface, mountains play a critical role in moving the world towards sustainable economic growth. They not only provide sustenance and wellbeing to 915 million mountain people around the world, representing 13 percent of global population, but mountains also indirectly benefit billions more living downstream.

About
International Mountain Day has its roots in 1992, when the adoption of Chapter 13 of Agenda 21 “Managing Fragile Ecosystems: Sustainable Mountain Development” at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development put a milestone in the history of mountain development. The increasing attention to the importance of mountains led the UN General Assembly to declare 2002 the UN International Year of Mountains. On this occasion, the UN General Assembly has designated 11 December, from 2003 onwards, as “International Mountain Day”. FAO is the coordinating agency for the coordinating this celebration (IMD) and is mandated to lead observance of it at the global level. The Water and Mountains Team of the Forestry Department is responsible for coordinating this international process.

The issue
Mountains provide freshwater, energy and food – resources that will be increasingly scarce in coming decades. However, mountains also have a high incidence of poverty and are extremely vulnerable to climate change, deforestation, land degradation and natural disasters. In fact, 1 out of 3 mountain people in developing countries is vulnerable to food insecurity and faces poverty and isolation.

The challenge is to identify new and sustainable opportunities that can bring benefits to both highland and lowland communities and help to eradicate poverty without contributing to the degradation of fragile mountain ecosystems.

Read the rest of this entry on the United Nations.

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