Young girls chatting under the watchful eye of a majestic mountain. FAO / Shanthungo Ezung

Natural jewels we should treasure

Mountains are home of the 15% of the world´s population and a quarter of the world’s land animals and plants. They provide freshwater for everyday life to half of humanity. Their conservation is a key factor for sustainable development and is part of Goal 15 of the SDGs.

Unfortunately, mountains are under threat from climate change and overexploitation. As the global climate continues to warm, mountain people — some of the world’s poorest — face even greater struggles to survive. The rising temperatures also mean that mountain glaciers are melting at unprecedented rates, affecting freshwater supplies downstream for millions of people.

This problem affects us all. We must reduce our carbon footprint and take care of these natural treasures.

2019 Theme: Mountains Matter for Youth

International Mountain Day is a chance to highlight that for rural youth, living in the mountains can be hard. Migration from the mountains leads to abandoned agriculture, land degradation and a loss of ancient cultural traditions.

Education and training, market access, diverse employment opportunities and good public services can ensure a brighter future for young people in the mountains.

This year, youth will take the lead and demand that mountains and mountain peoples become central in the national and international development agendas; receive more attention, investments and tailored research.


International Mountain Day has its roots in the document “Managing Fragile Ecosystems: Sustainable Mountain Development” (called Chapter 13), adopted in 1992 as part of the action plan Agenda 21 of the Conference on Environment and Development.

The increasing attention to the importance of mountains led the UN declare to 2002 the UN International Year of Mountains. The first international day was celebrated for the first time the following year, 2003.


Did you know that…?

  • Mountains cover 27% of the Earth’s land surface
  • 6 of the 20 most important food crops originate in mountains
  • More than a half of humanity relies on mountain freshwater for everyday life

+ More info in this FAO poster



FAO invites you to promote your event through its website.

Register your event and check out the events around the world for 2020.

Two young members of a herder community in Tarialan, Uvs Province, Mongolia.

FAO website related to this International Day highlights the importance of mountains to life. It will help you to create awareness and take action for bringing positive change to mountain peoples and environments around the world. Discover this year's initiatives, including a photo-recipe contest.

Related Days

There are many international days related to the mountains. Discover the interaction between this natural resource and other issues, such as climate change, flora, fauna and human beings. We encourage you to visit Environment Day, Water Day, Wildlife Day, or Indigenous Peoples Day.

International days are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool. We also mark other UN observances.