Mountain Protection

The UIAA Mountain Protection Commission (MPC) hosted its annual meeting on Friday 29 May. As has become the norm during Covid-19, the meeting took place online. Nine members of the MPC from as many countries and five continents participated supported by UIAA Executive Board members Lode Beckers (also a Commission member) and Hélène Denis as well as Office support Carol Kahoun.

Dr Carolina Adler (New Zealand, NZAC), newly re-elected Commission President, led the meeting. The Mountain Protection Commission has spearheaded the UIAA’s commitment to sustainability for over half a century and remains at the forefront of global discussions and initiatives related to challenges experienced in mountain regions, such as climate change. Today, 5 June, marks the United Nations’ World Environment Day, which this year celebrates biodiversity (#ForNature), an important theme that is both urgent and existential for ecosystems and people in mountains, as well as worldwide.

“The challenging experiences had with the Covid-19 crisis has given us many reasons to pause, take stock and reflect about our current state of affairs, not least the way in which we are trying to address transformations to sustainability,” explains Dr Adler. “For the UIAA, sustainability has been one of the three key guiding pillars for the past few years, and no doubt will continue to be a key theme for the UIAA and the work of the Mountain Protection Commission to support it. The meeting was a great opportunity for us to reflect critically on how we may best address current challenges and find opportunities to back a post-Covid recovery that supports our members in their efforts to strengthen mountain protection, too”.

During the meeting the MPC addressed the following subjects:


The development of a new UIAA Strategy remains a priority for the Executive Board and Management Committee, with the current Strategic Plan (SP) of the UIAA expiring this year. The MPC confirmed its desire to provide input in relation to mountain protection and sustainability, notably insights into what worked and what could be improved from the current SP. The Commission expressed its desire for candidates for the UIAA Presidency, at the opportune moment, to clearly outline their position and vision for the UIAA and their position on mountain protection and sustainability.


Vice President Mike Maunsell (Ireland, MI) provided a recap of the 2019 UIAA MPA prize giving ceremony and details of Bally’s partnership with the Award through to 2022. Owing to the Covid-19 pandemic the 2020 Award will be presented at the UIAA General Assembly in the autumn of 2021 although submissions through the online platform are open. The new MPA timeline will be confirmed later in 2020, specifically details on the assessment process window. The Commission extended its thanks to Bally for its support and flexibility in agreeing to adjust the timeframe for this year’s Award. Details on the impact of Covid-19 on the MPA and the UIAA’s Respect the Mountains Movement (RTM) can be found here.


The Commission is preparing a workshop together with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Federation of Mountain Guide Associations (IFMGA) to (a) update the existing Environmental Guidelines of the UIAA (dating back to 2002) and (b) to redefine strategy for the RTM movement. The date of workshop is to be confirmed.

Other priorities including creating recommendations to avoid, reduce, and mitigate the UIAA’s carbon footprint, based on results of 2018 and 2019 calculations – this is in line with the UNFCCC’s Sports for Climate Action Framework which the UIAA signed at the beginning of last year.

The Commission will also work on providing sustainability clauses which can be incorporated into existing UIAA Organiser Handbooks, including those for UIAA Ice Climbing World Cups and World Championships, GA, MC and Commission meeting organisers.

Finally, the Commission also discussed its planned contribution to, and work with, the Sustainable Summits 2020 Committee for the new programming of the next event in Nepal as part of this conference series, which was postponed from 2020 to 2021 (exact dates to be confirmed). The Commission is keen to ensure mountain protection is part of the post-COVID recovery the world so desperately needs.


UIAA General Secretary Lode Beckers presented the work of the Covid-19 Crisis Consultation (CCC) Taskforce. The MPC expressed its desire to contribute to the recent guidelines published by the UIAA and adapted from those produced by the German Alpine Club (DAV) regarding returning to climbing following the easing of lockdown measures in certain countries. An MPC contribution will also address the recent statements issued by the UN World Tourism Organisation in their Guidelines to Restart Tourism, released by the Global Tourism Crisis Committee in May 2020, with the objective to support tourism to emerge stronger and more sustainable from the COVID-19 crisis. For the MPC, it will be important to bring forth a summary of those key recommendations with a view to reflect the specificities relevant for mountain tourism and recreation, in particular for mountaineering. The MPC’s recommendations, placing emphasis on mountain protection best practices, will be published in due course.

The Commission will also publish an opinion paper about mountain protection in a post-Covid world. Further details will be shared later in 2020.


The MPC approved a new Corresponding Member in Toba Disyon (Indonesia, FPTI). The Commission is also seeking new experts to join and encourages UIAA member associations to submit potential and motivated candidates.

The Commission will again meet virtually during September 2020 and again in late 2020 after the GA. The location and date of its next in-person meeting, in 2021, has yet to be confirmed.

Discover more about the UIAA & Sustainability here.

Main photo: Courtesy of Sunday Afternoons, partner of Respect the Mountains Movement