11 Dec 2018 Press release Ecosystems

On World Mountain Day, looking at climate change adaptation in some of the world's most majestic ranges

  • Mountain regions are home to 15% of the world’s population.
  • The influence of mountains extends far beyond their ranges: they provide goods and services, most notably water, to millions of people. 
  • Adaptation to climate change in mountain regions is crucial, not only for the people living in mountains, but also for those living downstream.

Nairobi, 11 December 2018 – Mountain regions occupy about one-quarter of the earth’s land surface and are home to 15% of the world’s population. Their influence extends far beyond their ranges: they provide goods and services, most notably water, to over half the global population – making them not only crucial for people living in mountains, but also for those living downstream.

But while the world is becoming increasingly aware of the impact of climate change on different ecosystems, current policies offer a very limited focus on the importance of climate change adaptation in mountainous regions.

In a bid to underscore the growing demand for climate change action in developing countries with fragile mountainous ecosystems, UN Environment is launching its 2018 Mountain Adaptation Outlook Synthesis report today, coinciding with World Mountain Day. The publication is presented on the sidelines of COP24 in Katowice, Poland, together with a report focusing specifically on adaptation in the Hindu Kush Himalaya.

“Climate change is increasingly impacting mountain regions,” said Joyce Msuya, Acting Executive Director at UN Environment. “Mountain ranges are extremely complex ecosystems home to some of the most marginalized and vulnerable communities. It is critical that we focus on helping these communities adapt to changing climate in mountain regions.” 

The reports examine the existing adaptation policies in some of the world’s largest mountain ranges, and is part of a series covering the Carpathian Mountains, the Hindu Kush Himalaya, Southern Caucasus, Tropical Andes and mountain ranges in Central Asia, Eastern Africa and the Western Balkans.

Mountain societies are experiencing a disproportionately high number of disasters compared other environments and the need to adapt is becoming an urgent task. Nonetheless, the rapid and unprecedented rate of climate change is challenging this adaptive capacity, as is evident through the already widespread impacts being felt across mountain regions.

Zeroing in on the lack of specific strategies to deal with the effects of climate change on mountain ecosystems, the report – developed by UN Environment in partnership with GRID-Arendal – provide an in-depth discussion on trends, key risks and common policy gaps for adaptation to climate change both within and across different mountain regions.

Types of climate-related hazards in mountains

One of the major impacts of climate change is the increase of average annual temperatures across all mountain regions and within all countries, leading to a range of short-term risks including: avalanche, landslides, reduced snow cover, wildfires, melting glaciers, degradation of forests and ecosystems, floods, vector-borne diseases and droughts. These risks expose already vulnerable and often marginalized mountain communities and destabilize some of their wealth-generating sectors,  including agriculture, tourism and biodiversity.

The Mountain Adaptation Outlook Series is a product of the collaboration between UN Environment and GRID-Arendal. Since 2015, UN Environment, GRID-Arendal and a series of partners in selected mountain regions, have been working on the project “Climate change action in developing countries with fragile mountainous ecosystems from a sub-regional perspective” to promote climate change adaptation in mountain regions.

 

NOTES TO EDITORS

About the Mountain Adaption Synthesis Report
This Mountain Adaptation Synthesis Report provides a concise summary of the findings of a series of reports, focusing on adaptation to climate change in some of the world’s major mountain regions, with a focus on developing regions and economies in transition. The development of this report is supported by the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) in the context of its inter-regional project “Climate change action in developing countries with fragile mountainous ecosystems from a sub-regional perspective “that is financially co-supported by the Government of Austria.

About UN Environment
UN Environment is the leading global voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. UN Environment works with governments, the private sector, the civil society and with other UN entities and international organizations across the world. 

For more information, please contact:
Shari Nijman, News and Media Unit, UN Environment, +25472067304