Every December 11, the International Mountain Day is commemorated in order to raise awareness of the importance of mountains in society.
Mountains are more important to our lives than they seem, as nearly a billion people live in mountain areas, and more than half of the Earth’s population depends on them for food, water and renewable energy. Six of the twenty most important food crops have their origin in the mountains (potatoes, corn, barley, sorghum, apples, tomatoes), and from mountains comes between 60 and 80 percent of all the freshwater resources on Earth. However, mountains are threatened by over-exploitation, climate change, natural disasters and soil degradation, with potentially devastating and far-reaching consequences for both mountain communities and the rest of the world.
In mountains appear the first symptoms of climate change and, as the years go by and the Earth warms up, those people who live at high altitudes in the mountains find themselves every day with more setbacks to move forward. The glaciers are melting faster and faster, due to the drastic change in temperature in recent decades, and this affects the water supply of millions of people. The inhabitants of the heights accumulate great knowledge, of past generations, that allow them to cope with climatic adversities, although everything has a limit.
Different factors such as climate variability, global warming and climate-induced disasters, combined with economic, social and political marginalization, increase the vulnerability of those living in the mountains, causing greater scarcity of food and extreme poverty. Currently, in developing countries it is estimated that one in three mountain people suffer from food insecurity. As a consequence, migration increases both abroad and towards urban centers. Those who resist in the mountains are usually women, who remain in the care of crops and livestock. However, they have little or no access to credit, training and property rights to the land they cultivate. This emigration also results in an inestimable loss of services that we obtain from the ecosystem and cultural and agro-biological diversity. Investments and policies can alleviate the harsh living conditions of mountain communities and reverse migration trends.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has created a global campaign, with a strategy on social networks and events around the world, with the aim of raising awareness about the current neglect of mountains and peoples who inhabit them. If you also want to participate in this campaign to take better care of our mountains, you can use the #MountainsMatter tag on social networks.
More information on the United Nations website.