Announcing IMD 2020 theme: Mountain biodiversity!
2020-02-23 - 44 Views




The year 2020 has been widely termed the “Super Year of Biodiversity”, what the United Nations Environment Programme calls, “a make or break year in which key international meetings will set the tone and agenda for environmental action in the decade ahead”.

Conferences like the World Biodiversity Forum in February and the IUCN World Conservation Congress in June will culminate in October’s Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Conference of Parties 15, where a post-2020 framework for biodiversity will be adopted.

The United Nations General Assembly designated 11 December “International Mountain Day”. As of2003, IMD been observed every year to create awareness about the importance of mountains to life and to build alliances that will bring positive change to mountain peoples and environments around the world.

Mountains loom large in some of the world’s most spectacular landscapes. Their unique topography, compressed climatic zones and isolation have created the conditions for a wide spectrum of life forms.

Half of the world’s biodiversity hotspots are concentrated in mountains. Mountains are home to one-third of all plant species; 45 000 plant species have been found in the tropical Andes alone. The Hindu Kush Himalaya is home to 330 important bird areas.

A large portion of the world's most precious gene pools (for agriculture and medicine) are preserved in mountains. Mountains are home to thousands of varieties of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, animal breeds, fi­sh, honey, insects and fungi. Crops that are important for food security, such as maize, potatoes, barley, sorghum, tomatoes, beans and apples have been diversified in mountains and an array of domestic animals - sheep, goats, yaks, llamas and alpacas - have originated or been diversified in mountains. Other crops, such as wheat, rye, rice, oats and grapes, have found new homes in the mountains and evolved into many varieties. Coffee and tea, with their roots in Ethiopia and the Himalayan region, are mountain crops as well. Medicinal plants are one of the most valuable resources from high altitudes. In the Andes, for example, farmers know of as many as 200 different varieties of indigenous potatoes and, in Nepal, they farm approximately 2 000 varieties of rice.

Climate change, unsustainable farming practices, commercial mining, logging and poaching all exact a heavy toll on mountain biodiversity. In addition, biodiversity loss, land use and land cover change, and natural disasters, contribute to creating a fragile environment for mountain communities. Ecosystem degradation, loss of livelihoods and migration in mountains can lead to the abandonment of cultural practices and ancient traditions that have sustained biodiversity for generations.

The sustainable management of mountain biodiversity has increasingly been recognized as a global priority. This rich biodiversity holds cultural, ecological and economic value and the Sustainable Development Goal 15 target four is dedicated to the conservation of mountains’ biodiversity in consideration of its global relevance. As governments prepare to negotiate a post-2020 global biodiversity framework for adoption this year at the UN Biodiversity Conference, we need to look at mountains as key to a sustainable future.

IMD is a day to celebrate the rich biodiversity in mountains and understand the threats they currently face, and address the way to move forward within the post-2020 CBD programme.

To mark IMD, we encourage organizing hands-on activities, presentations, hosting students’ debates, photo and art competitions, hikes and events targeted especially to youth.

In the coming months, we will prepare communication materials in six languages, which will be made available on our website and distributed as hard copies to those who request them.

Meanwhile, join the conversation on social media using the #MountainsMatter. Pass on some of the key messages or share stories about the biodiversity in the mountains near you. Post a photo of your favourite mountain moment and share it with us and your friends.

Meanwhile, do not forget to write to with news of the celebrations you are planning, so we can post them on our website. 

While biodiversity is the suggested theme for 2020, countries, communities and organizations are welcome to celebrate IMD through the choice of a different theme that might be more relevant to them.

Learn more about International Mountain Day