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International Mountain Day

In 1998, the United Nations General Assembly declared 2002 as the International Year of Mountains, and in a resolution in December 2002, they designated December 11 as International Mountain Day. It was first held the following year. They created the day to raise awareness about the importance of mountains, saying the United Nations "encourages the international community to organize on this day events at all levels to highlight the importance of sustainable mountain development." The Food and Agriculture Organization coordinates the celebration.

Why are mountains important? Twenty-two percent of the world's surface is made up of mountains, and almost a billion people live near them. They provide food, water, and clean energy, and almost half of the world's population relies on them. They are also places of tourism and homes to cultural trails.

Mountains are under threat from climate change, natural disasters, land degradation, and the exploitation of land. For example, rising temperatures cause glaciers to melt, and this affects water downstream. If nothing is done, there will be consequences for mountain communities, and to those who rely on mountains all over the world. Ninety percent of those who live near mountains live in developing countries, and already often face poverty and hunger. With the loss of their mountain resources, they will face even more dire circumstances. If they are forced to leave, and migrate abroad or to urban areas, the culture and agriculture of mountain regions will be further upended. International Mountain Day was created in order to address these issues. It exists to "highlight how climate, hunger, and migration are affecting highlands," and to foster sustainable mountain development.

How to Observe International Mountain Day

The day should be celebrated with the goal of strengthening existing and establishing new policies and international initiatives to promote sustainable mountain development. Check for events taking place; some that are happening around the world are listed on the Food and Agriculture Organization website. You can send them an email if you have an event to add to their list. The Food and Agriculture Organization also has a photo contest you could enter, and materials you could share with others about the importance of mountains.

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