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Sustainable Mountain Development is the subject of Chapter 13 of Agenda 21, which notes that mountains are an important source of water, energy, biological diversity, key resources, such as minerals, forest products and agricultural products, and of recreation. Mountain environments represent major ecosystems which are essential to the survival of the global ecosystem, but they are rapidly changing.

Many global mountain areas are experiencing environmental degradation. At the same time, about ten percent of the world's population depends directly on mountain resources, and a much larger percentage draws on mountain resources, including and especially water.

International Year of Mountains

On 10 November 1998, the General Assembly proclaimed the Year 2002 as the International Year of Mountains, by adopting without a vote, a draft resolution recommended by the Economic and Social Council. 

Programme Areas to Further Elaborate the Problem of Fragile Mountain Ecosystems

Chapter 13 includes two programme areas to further elaborate the problem of fragile mountain ecosystems. These are

  1. Generating and strengthening knowledge about the ecology and sustainable development of mountain ecosystems; and
  2. Promoting integrated watershed development and alternative livelihood opportunities.


Sustainable mountain development was discussed at the third session of the Commission on Sustainable Development and the nineteenth Special Session of the General Assembly. Within the framework of the Commission's multi-year programme of work, it will next be taken up at the CSD-20/21 sessions in 2012/2013.