Monday marks International Mountain Day (IMD), an annual occasion since the United Nations General Assembly designated the 11 December an opportunity to ‘create awareness about the importance of mountains to life, to highlight the opportunities and constraints in mountain development and to build alliances that will bring positive change to mountain people and environments around the world.’
As the international federation for climbing and mountaineering and with sustainability as one of its three core pillars, the UIAA, through the work of its Mountain Protection Commission, is a leading player in the the field of mountain protection. As well as raising awareness about the importance of mountain protection on IMD itself, the UIAA’s commitment to the subject is year round.
A MESSAGE FROM UIAA MOUNTAIN PROTECTION COMMISSION PRESIDENT DR CAROLINA ADLER
“This year the theme for the UN declared International Mountain Day is ‘Mountains under Pressure: climate, hunger, migration’. Indeed, mountains and mountain communities are under great pressure, and as important as it is to acknowledge and account for how these pressures can exert negative impacts, it is also relevant and key to take a moment to reflect and review our own actions, hopefully as contributors to solutions rather than being part of the problem.
Mountain tourism is known to attract between 15-20% of all global tourism, and in some mountain regions these figures are expected to rise. Whilst tourism and recreation can make substantial and positive contributions to livelihoods and development, the mountaineering community must ensure we work and support this development through our sport in a sustainable manner. For this reason, the UIAA Mountain Protection Commission (MPC) has focused its attention more and more towards actions on the ground that seek to ease the pressure, evident through the successes so far with Respect the Mountains (RtM), the Mountain Protection Award (MPA), and establishing important partnerships with key stakeholders this year to help us realise our agenda.
Next year promises to be another busy one for the UIAA MPC, not least because of the continuation of our key projects, but also the timely Sustainable Summits Conference, which convenes in June in Chamonix, France. As a key partner in this activity, we encourage all federations to join us and participate in this important dialogue for our community, with the opportunity to hear first hand and benefit from ideas and solutions for issues such as waste management and climate change adaptation that are applicable to our diverse, complex and fragile mountain environments. Together, we can jointly be real agents of positive change”.
The UN Environment’s IMD press release can be found here.
THE UIAA. A YEAR AT THE FOREFRONT OF MOUNTAIN PROTECTION
SUPPORTING MOUNTAIN COMMUNITIES WORLDWIDE:
2017 UIAA MOUNTAIN PROTECTION AWARD
Since its creation five years ago, the annual UIAA Mountain Protection Award has made a tangible difference to mountain lives, communities and the environment. It has enabled people to raise finances to build key infrastructures, conduct vital research and fulfil pending goals; it has provided an international showcase and communication platform for projects to raise awareness and exchange ideas and initiatives. Not only has it supported local communities, it has fostered its own global community. The Award celebrates innovation and a desire to make a difference.
The 2017 Award was the biggest to date in terms of variety and scope of nominees. Twenty-two projects from 15 countries were accepted as part of the international showcase. This included Nepalese post-earthquake recovery programmes, a waste management scheme on Patagonia, clean climbing on Denali and brown bear conservation in Bulgaria.
The winning project was the Mount Everest Biogas Project, a United States-based project is a volunteer-run, non-profit organization that has designed an environmentally sustainable solution to the impact of human waste on Mt. Everest and other high altitude locations. Also recognized was Community Action Nepal (CAN), a UK-based charity and NGO which seeks to improve the lives of the mountain people of Nepal by developing ‘grass roots’ health posts, schools, community development and income generation projects as best runner-up and Wildlife Alliance, a community-based ecotourism initiative in the Cardamom Mountain Range, Cambodia, as best new initiative. For all 22 nominees though being part of the platform brings immesurable benefits including promotion through the UIAA’s international channels and the opportunity to exchange ideas and best practices with likeminded projects.
DIRECT ACTION AND AN EDUCATIONAL LEGACY:
2017 RESPECT THE MOUNTAINS
The UIAA incorporated the Respect the Mountains project into its sphere of activities in 2015. Since when 18 events have been held in nine countries with over 1,500 volunteers collecting some 7.5 tonnes of waste.
The project forms part of the UIAA’s longstanding commitment to sustainability and mountain protection and is partnered by KEEN. It is governed by the Seven Ways to Respect the Mountains, and the project’s core aims comprise: raising awareness about sustainable environmental practices; spreading the word within the outdoor community; preserving mountain ecosystems and cultures in their natural state for future generations; promoting sustainable mountain tourism and activities and educating the next generation of mountain explorers and encourage them to be sustainable followers. The project encourages all mountain stakeholders – resorts, tourists, outdoor companies and all mountain lovers to come together and volunteer at the events.
In 2017, nine events were held in seven countries many with the support of UIAA member federations. Visiting Canada in June, the Series made its first impact outside of Europe. For 2018, the UIAA is working on plans to ensure RTM becomes a truly global message.
SPORT AND SUSTAINABILITY:
UIAA PRESENCE AT INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION FORUM
In November, the UIAA took part in a panel discussion at Sport Accord’s International Federation Forum (IF) in Lausanne, Switzerland discussing the relationship between sport and biodiversity and the role of the sporting community. To mark the occasion, a dedicated document was produced by the IOC highlighting case sustainability case studies by International Federations. The UIAA was the subject of two case studies (one of only two federations to do so). They were dedicated to the federation’s core projects in mountain protection – Respect the Mountains and the Mountain Protection Award.
Full story here.
A WORLDWIDE KNOWLEDGE EXCHANGE:
UIAA PARTNERS 10YFP SUSTAINABLE TOURISM PROGRAMME
Extending its role and influence in the field of mountain sustainability, the UIAA announced its partnership with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO)’s 10YFP Sustainable Tourism Programme (STP) in September. “We look forward to active participation in the 10YFP STP in our role as key promoters for mountaineering and responsible mountain recreation and tourism for sustainable mountain development,” explained UIAA Mountain Protection Commission President Dr Carolina Adler at the time. “As we work towards upgrading our own UIAA sustainability guidelines as part of the Mountain Protection Commission’s work, as well as develop new environment-themed syllabus and curricula content for training manuals and handbooks, we see this partnership as an opportunity to count on best state-of-the-art knowledge from key players in these fields. Likewise, we offer and share with these platforms a wealth of information and years of experience implementing our own sustainability projects, as a way of giving back and improve our projects”.
Full story here.
MOUNTAINEERING BODIES JOIN FORCES:
UIAA AND IFMGA SIGN MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING
In Kathmandu in early December, the UIAA and IFMGA (International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations (IFMGA) formalised their willingness to collaborate by signing a Memorandum of Understanding to exhibit their commitment to collaborating on environmental matters, such as the development and review of environmental and sustainability guidelines and events to address waste and pollution management in mountaineering. This also comes in direct response to the recommendations made in a report on mountain waste published last year by UN Environment, in which an appeal was made to both global representative bodies for mountaineering to join forces and help address some of the key and pressing issues in mountains all the over the world, such as waste from tourism and recreation activities.
Full story here.
CLIMATE CHANGE AWARENESS:
UIAA CONTRIBUTES TO DISCUSSIONS AT COP23
At November’s 23rd United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – COP23 and in collaboration with Mountain Partnership, the Government of Kyrgyzstan, the UIAA took part in a side panel discussion exploring common challenges and solutions for addressing climate change impacts in mountains, supporting concrete actions, putting in place long-lasting processes and establishing policies that strengthen the resilience of mountain peoples and environments. The UIAA was represented by Mountain Protection Commission delegate Joop Spijker (NKBC, Netherlands). He addressed the subject of mountaineering and climate change. UIAA Honorary Member Ang Tshering Sherpa also presented during the Panel introducing ‘Community Experience of the Climate Change in the Himalayas and Solutions’.
After making impressive strides with its core mountain protection projects and extending its influence and network in the global sustainability community in 2017, the UIAA will be an active contributor to advancing talks, research and collaboration in mountain protection in 2018, for example with eminent global research networks such as the Mountain Research Initiative. The UIAA’s two core projects, the MPA and RTM, will continue to grow and innovate while June’s Sustainable Summits Conference in Chamonix, partnered by the UIAA, will tackle some major subjects and engage alpinists, members of mountaineering and climbing associations, ecologists and scientific researchers. The conference is being coordinated by the Petzl Foundation in collaboration with other mountain organisations. A specific focus will be placed on climate change and its impact on mountain regions and on human activities in high mountains.
To contact the UIAA Mountain Protection Commission please email: mountain protection (at) theuiaa.org