2014 Theme: “Mountain Farming”
Covering around 27 percent of the earth’s land surface, mountains play a critical role in moving the world towards sustainable economic growth. They not only provide sustenance and wellbeing to 720 million mountain people around the world, but indirectly benefit billions more living downstream.
In particular, mountains provide freshwater, energy and food – resources that will be increasingly scarce in coming decades. However, mountains also have a high incidence of poverty and are extremely vulnerable to climate change, deforestation, land degradation and natural disasters.
The challenge is to identify new and sustainable opportunities that can bring benefits to both highland and lowland communities and help to eradicate poverty without contributing to the degradation of fragile mountain ecosystems.
This year, the celebration of this Day aims to highlight Mountain Farming. Here we have an opportunity to raise awareness about how mountain agriculture, which is predominantly family farming, has been a model for sustainable development for centuries.
Family farming in mountain regions is undergoing rapid transformation due to population growth, economic globalization, urbanization and the migration of men and youth to urban areas.
At the same time, these changes can provide opportunities for local development. People who reside in mountain areas can diversify their income by engaging activities such as tourism, high value mountain products and handicrafts. An enabling policy environment that includes tailored investments could improve farmers’ access to resources and increase their capacity to generate income.
Commitment and will to advance this cause were strengthened during the International Year of Mountains in 2002, and mountains have gained an increasingly high profile on agendas at all levels.
The Year also led to the adoption of resolution 57/245, in which the General Assembly designated 11 December as International Mountain Day, and encouraged the international community to organize events at all levels on that day to highlight the importance of sustainable mountain development.