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Why mountains matter - A Call for Action on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Mountains cover 25 percent of the world’s land surface, and directly support 12 percent of the world’s population living within mountain regions. Sustainable mountain development should be a global priority given the multitude of ecosystem goods and services that mountains provide; among the most important is water for half of humanity for drinking, irrigation and energy production. 

Available online (3 reports)

These ecosystem services – as well as the mountain peoples - who are at the same time custodians and direct beneficiaries, are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and natural disasters. The degradation of these essential mountain ecosystem services will have a direct impact on downstream regions and human well-being.

Over the past few years, several international policy processes have called for sustainable mountain development to be given greater international focus. These include the call for sustainable mountain development in Chapter 13 of Agenda 21, the action plan endorsed by the ‘Earth Summit’ in 1992, and the recent Rio+20 outcome document, “The Future We Want”.

Currently, discussions on a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Post-2015 Agenda are being held. Mountains play a crucial role for global sustainable development, and therefore need to be covered by the Sustainable Development Goals as a cross-cutting issue, especially for goals related to environmental sustainability, climate change and disaster-risk reduction, energy, biodiversity and forests.

As part of an overall initiative of the Mountain Partnership ( to mainstream mountain-related issues into the current Post-2015 process, a series of three thematic policy briefs have been produced, on Energy, Climate change and Disaster Risk Reduction, Forests and Biodiversity. The briefs benefit from various results and information gained throughout mountain-related projects and initiatives, including the Himalayan Climate Change Adaptation Programme.

This work has been undertaken by GRID-Arendal together with UNEP (in particular its Vienna Office), the Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), CDE Bern, FAO/MPS, Zoi Environment Network, ICIMOD and other partners. 

Monday 03 Feb 2014
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