International Mountain Day

International Mountain Day is celebrated on December 11th to raise awareness among citizens about the significance of mountains and their inhabitants worldwide. The UN General Assembly declared 2002 as the International Year of Mountains, leading to the inaugural International Mountain Day in 2003 to advocate for the protection and sustainable use of these natural spaces. The theme for 2023 will focus on “Restoration of Mountain Ecosystems.”

Mountain tourism attracts 15 to 20% of global tourism, but it has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, exacerbating vulnerabilities for mountain communities. However, this crisis can be viewed as an opportunity to reinvent mountain tourism, considering its impacts on natural resources and livelihoods, aiming for better management and a more resilient, ecological, and inclusive future.

Sustainable mountain tourism can contribute to creating additional and sustainable livelihood options, promoting social inclusion, poverty mitigation, and landscape and biodiversity conservation. Nevertheless, there is a risk of excessive overcrowding in certain mountain spaces, leading to the degradation of mountaineering values and environmental deterioration. Therefore, proposing preventive measures, advocating for increased self-control, education, and respect in fragile mountain areas, as well as establishing appropriate and consensus-based usage restrictions, is crucial.

Mountains cover around 27% of the Earth’s land surface and host approximately half of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. They are essential for climate regulation, water supply services, soil maintenance, and conservation, providing fresh water to half of the world’s population. However, mountains are experiencing the effects of climate change and unsustainable development, increasing risks for people and the planet.

The recent biodiversity agreement from the 2022 United Nations Conference on Biological Diversity commits to protecting 30% of the Earth’s lands, oceans, coastal areas, and inland waters by 2030, providing momentum to revive and protect mountain landscapes. In its resolution on sustainable mountain development, the UN General Assembly recently proclaimed 2023–2027 as the “Five Years of Action for Mountain Development,” to attract grants and investments for mountains, developing “green” economies and technologies, creating mechanisms to consolidate cooperation among mountainous countries, and advancing science and education in the field of sustainable mountain development.

International Mountain Day 2023 is an opportunity to raise awareness about the relevance of mountain ecosystems and advocate for solutions, best practices, and nature-based investments that build resilience, reduce vulnerability, and enhance mountain capacity to adapt to daily threats and extreme weather events. People are encouraged to join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #MountainsMatter and to organize or participate in activities celebrating mountains, such as conferences, virtual events, photo contests, art exhibitions, and excursions.