Projects & Activities

Thematic policy briefs for intregrating Mountains into Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Why mountains matter for climate change & disaster risk reduction, energy, biodiversity and forests - A Call for action on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 

Mountains cover 27 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. 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.

Currently, discussions towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Post-2015 Agenda are being held. Following 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”, mountains -as a cross-cutting issue- need to be covered by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially the goals where mountains play a crucial role for global sustainable development.

To this end, and as a part of an overall initiative in the context of the Mountain Partnership ( to mainstream mountain issues into the current Post-2015 process, 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 supported the production of three thematic briefs: Energy, Climate change and Disaster Risk Reduction, Forests and Biodiversity.

Project duration: September 2013 - February 2014. 

Contact: Lawrence Hislop & Matthias Jurek

The briefs can be downloaded online:

Why mountains matter for energy: available in English (1.1 mb), French (1.3 mb), Spanish (1.3 mb), Arabic (1.1 mb) and Russian (1.1 mb)

Why mountains matter for climate change & disaster risk reduction: English (2.1 mb)

Why mountains matter for forests & biodiversity: English (2.5 mb)

Mountains as the Water Towers of the World: English (3.7 mb)

Completed projects