International Mountain Day: Celebrating International Cooperation on Climate Change Adaptation in Mountain Environments - from Rio to Lima to Paris
Presented by: Consortium for the Sustainable Development of the Andean Eco region (CONDESAN), UN Environment Programme (UNEP), GRID-Arendal, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
Moderator Barney Dickson, UNEP, opened the session that considered the important role of mountains and cooperative measures in ecosystem-based approaches to climate change adaptation in mountainous regions.
Anil Mishra, UNESCO, showed a video for the exhibition ‘Mountains: Early Warning Systems for Climate Change,’ and presented UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme (IHP) project: ‘Addressing Water Security: Climate Impacts and Adaptation responses in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe.’
Matthias Jurek, GRID-Arendal, and Tina Schoolmeester, GRID-Arendal, launched several publications on regional outlooks on mountains and climate change adaptation, and presented findings of the Ecosystem-Based Adaptation Mountain Flagship Programme. Schoolmeester highlighted key recommendations applying to all regions, including: the need for more data collection on the mountain-specific impacts of climate change; and the “very high need” to strengthen regional cooperation among mountain areas.
David Molden, International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), launched the Himalayan Climate and Water Atlas, underscoring key messages, including: overall rainfall in the area is likely to increase by 25-30%; extreme rainfall events are likely to be less frequent but more intense; and glaciers will continue to suffer “substantial” losses.
In a panel session, Rolf Einar Fife, Norwegian Ambassador to France, indicated that Norway’s careful water management was key to the country’s prosperity, underscoring the need for an integrated and cooperative approach. Stana Božović, State Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection, Serbia, said that her country is committed to urgent adaptation actions, and supported improving regional cooperation.
Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji, Minister of Agriculture and Forests, Bhutan, underscored that addressing implementation would be more beneficial than producing a report, and hoped that the Green Climate Fund (GCF) would fairly share resources to allow climate change issues to be addressed in the least developed countries (LDCs). Petr Kalaš, Chief Adviser to the Minister, Ministry of Environment, Czech Republic, stressed that mountains are early warning systems for climate change, and reiterated the importance of cooperation to share information and experiences.
Flavia Nabugera Munaaba, State Minister for the Environment, Uganda, supported a special Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on mountains, and said there was a need to develop special mechanisms for addressing mountain problems such as shrinking glaciers and threatened resources. Monika Mörth, Cabinet of the Federal Minister, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management, Austria, appeared on behalf of Andrä Rupprechter, Federal Minister of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management of Austria, who stated: “We must ensure that people remain able to make a living in all remote mountain areas. Therefore we need regional collaborations and networks to share experiences and exchange know-how.” Mörth supported cooperative sub-regional and holistic approaches to climate change adaptation in mountain areas.
Kuban Kabaev, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kyrgyzstan, reported on his country’s sustainable development mountain agenda, and noted concern on the negative climate change impacts on biodiversity, particularly on snow leopards. In closing remarks, Andrew Taber, Executive Director, The Mountain Institute, and Chair, Mountain Partnership Steering Committee, underscored the excellent work shown by the publications launched at the event in helping billions of people around the world that depend on mountains.
In a statement, Achim Steiner, Executive Director, UNEP, noted that mountain ecosystems enrich the lives of over half of the world’s population as a source of water, energy, agriculture and other essential goods and services. He however lamented that while the impact of climate change is accentuated at high altitude, such regions are often on the edge of decision-making, partly due to their isolation, inaccessibility and relative poverty.