With the overall objective of promoting sustainable mountain development, the meeting discussed the agenda for the Mountain Partnership going forward, advocating for bringing mountain-related issues to the fore and the core of relevant international processes, as well as for action on the ground. Delegates also elected a new Steering Committee for the Mountain Partnership, updated several of the Mountain Partnership’s strategy documents, and endorsed the Aspen Declaration.
Mountains are some of the most important ecosystems for the survival of the planet, providing essential goods and services. They are home to 1.1 billion people and provide 60-80 percent of the world’s freshwater resources for domestic consumption, irrigation, industry, food, and energy production. Mountains cover about 27 percent of the Earth’s land area and provide ecosystem services to billions of people, such as stabilizing slopes, regulating the climate and hydrological cycles, and supporting livelihoods. They host about half of the world's biodiversity hotspots and 30 percent of all key biodiversity areas, as well as vital genetic resources for locally adapted crops and livestock. Mountain destinations attract about 15-20 percent of global tourism, which can play a key role in valuing and protecting the natural and spiritual heritage of mountains. Mountains also play an important role in providing renewable energy, especially through hydropower, and solar power and wind power. Investing in the building of sustainable infrastructure, including roads and trains, is critical for sustainable mountain development).
However, climate change is negatively impacting food security, agriculture, and the provision of ecosystem services across many different mountainous regions worldwide. Climate-related hazards, such as flash floods, wildfires, and landslides, have contributed to an increase in disasters, affecting a growing number of people in mountain regions and further downstream. One out of two rural mountain people in developing countries is vulnerable to food insecurity). In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions adopted by countries to respond to it have amplified existing vulnerabilities of mountain communities, whose livelihoods rely mostly on agriculture, tourism, and remittances. Thus, action to respond to these critical issues and challenges facing mountain peoples and ecosystems is critical.
It is within this context that the Sixth Global Meeting of the Mountain Partnership met under the topic: “Mountains Matter: Ideas to Action/Building Alliances for Resilient Mountains.” This meeting was the main event of the United Nations (UN) International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development 2022. The event included three days of Mountain Partnership meetings and daily side events on sustainable mountain development, addressing climate change, ecotourism, renewable energy, disaster mitigation, Indigenous knowledge, and water conservation at the global and regional levels. A multi-year action plan was considered to increase awareness of the importance of sustainable mountain development and promote conservation and sustainable use of mountain ecosystems, which are threatened by climate change. The meeting produced the Aspen Declaration to build momentum for mountains and Mountain Partnership strategy documents, including a governance paper, an advocacy strategy, and a communication strategy.
The Mountain Partnership is a voluntary UN alliance with more than 450 members, including governments, intergovernmental organizations, private sector partners, NGOs, universities, and research institutes dedicated to improving the lives of mountain peoples and protecting mountain environments around the world.
The meeting and public side events, convened from September 26-29 at the Aspen Institute in Aspen, Colorado, was organized and hosted by the Aspen International Mountain Foundation (AIMF), and co-hosted by the State of Colorado, the City of Aspen, and the Aspen Institute. It was streamed globally in multiple languages.