International Mountain Day 2021 - Cultural and Climate Change in the Mountains


Today marks International Mountain Day 2021. This year's theme is sustainable mountain tourism. The UN Mountain Partnership and other organisations are sharing information on key topics including climate change resilience, sustainable tourism and the importance of involving women and girls in both ecosystem protection and the local economy within mountain communities.

International Mountain Day 2021.  © FAO
International Mountain Day 2021.

Here's a list of events, projects and resources:

Mountain tourism - towards a more sustainable path

  • Organised by the Mountain Partnership Secretariat at the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations in celebration of International Mountain Day 2021, a virtual event 'Sustainable Mountain Tourism' held on 10 December promoted dialogue and cooperation to tap mountain tourism's full potential to contribute to sustainable development.
  • Read about a project involving local cheese production by nomadic Mongolian herders as a source of tourism income, which also contributes to the conservation of snow leopards. The project was selected for support during the COVID-19 pandemic from The Lion's Share, and the Small Grants Programme, a corporate programme of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) that is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
  • A session on plastic waste in mountain environments (video replay) was also held on 10 December. "Much of the attention is still on the impact of plastic on the ocean, and not mountains, but plastic pollution is everywhere," said Damaris Carnal of the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment. 
  • 5 Mega Clean Drives in mountain cities of India are happening this #InternationalMountainDay i.e.11th December.

The benefits of mountains.  © FAO
The benefits of mountains.

Climate Resilience in Mountain Areas

  • A paper published on 10 December titled 'Strengthening climate resilience in mountainous areas' shares an overview of climate-related hazards to ecosystems and communities in mountainous areas, especially in developing countries, and their exposure and vulnerability to those hazards, alongside the ways governments and development co‑operation providers can help these areas become more resilient to these issues. 
  • Nepalese Mountaineer Nirmal Purja has been announced as a UN Environment Programme Mountain Advocate. Read more.
  • Read about the MIDMACC (Mid Mountain Adaptation to Climate Change) project, which promotes adaptation through the implementation and testing of different landscape management measures to meet climate change related challenges in marginal mid-mountain areas of Spain (La Rioja, Aragon and Catalonia), while improving their socioeconomic development.
  • Read our UKC article on COP26 and climate change in mountain environments and beyond.

Critical approaches to gender in mountain ecosystems

  • The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature - IUCN) recently puclished an important paper titled 'Critical approaches to gender in mountain ecosystems,' edited by Omer Aijazi and Sejuti Basu. Key barriers faced by women include in mountain areas include limited mobility away from their villages, restrictive socio-cultural norms, inadequate or lack of education and literacy, and time poverty. This new paper shares gender-specific knowledge for ecosystem management in mountain regions across India, Italy, Mexico, Nepal, and the Togo-Ghana Highlands.

"What happens in the mountains trickles down to the valleys, impacting us all. Sharing ancestral knowledge can drive mountain women's economic empowerment," said Stella Jean, the UN Mountain Partnership's newly-selected Goodwill Ambassador.

A chatter of choughs paying close attention to the Chamonix Aiguilles.  © Natalie Berry
A chatter of choughs paying close attention to the Chamonix Aiguilles.
© Natalie Berry

UIAA Mountain Protection Award Winners Announced

  • The UIAA announced its Mountain Protection Award winners last week in an online ceremony.

Overall Winner: Fondation Grand Paradis (Italy)
Best New Initiative: Zéro Déchet Mont Blanc (France) 
Runner-Up: MacGillycuddy Reeks European Innovation Partnership Project (Ireland)

Mountain Homestay App Launched

  • The UN Mountain Partnership has launched an app called Mountain Homestay, which connects travellers with hosts in indigenous mountain communities. The app also provides information on the region's culture and aims to empower local people and support their businesses through homestay tourism.

Links to mountain climate and cultural organisations and initiatives:

Mountain Research Initiative

UN Mountain Partnership


IPCC report on High Mountain Areas

CREA Mont Blanc

International Network of Mountain Indigenous Peoples

Protect our Winters

Mountain Sentinels

Mountain Genius

United Mountains of Europe

Read our UKC/UKH articles on issues relating to climate change and the environment:

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