SECRETARY-GENERAL’S MESSAGE ON INTERNATIONAL MOUNTAIN DAY
New York, 11 December 2020
Mountains are home to stunning biodiversity. Mountain regions host more than a quarter of terrestrial plants and animals and 30 per cent of key biodiversity areas on land. At a time of accelerating climate change and land degradation, this year’s observance of International Mountain Day highlights these threats and the importance of mountain ecosystems.
Mountain glaciers are losing their glaciers at an unprecedented rate. Snow depth in high mountains is expected to decrease by 10 to 40 per cent between 2031 and 2050.
Mountain wildlife is also at risk. Snow leopards in Central Asia, mountain gorillas in Virunga, Royal Bengal tigers in Bhutan and other species are affected by changes to wider ecosystems and human uses of the landscape that could, in turn, lead to further encroachment into remote and high-altitude areas and increased human-wildlife conflict.
The year ahead offers important policy-making opportunities to protect mountain biodiversity and ecosystems, including the UN climate conference – COP26 – and the elaboration of a post-2020 biodiversity framework. The United Nations General Assembly has declared 2021 – 2030 the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. And the United Nations continues to work with local and national partners to protect mountain ecosystems and species and to promote mountain products. The recent “Run Wild” campaign has helped to mobilize 1 million runners representing 1 million endangered species – a moving show of solidarity.
Mountains must move to the centre of our attention – and it is time to move mountains to secure the changes we need to secure the health of our planet and to build a sustainable future for all.