Celebrating our common natural and cultural heritage: Mountain Biodiversity Day
One voice to protect Mountains, Wildlife and People in times of global change
Mountains house unique biodiversity and provide vital ecosystem services underpinning the well-being of people worldwide. Yet mountain regions – biodiverse and rich in cultural heritages – are strongly exposed to factors such as climate change, land-use change, pollution and others. These processes threaten mountains’ biodiversity and their potential to act as refugia for species. These ecosystems need protection and restoration to ensure mountains continue to play their central role in future.
At the same time, mountain regions offer multiple approaches for adaptation and for sustainable responses to climate change and other pressures. The unique threats and opportunities facing mountains must be translated into explicit ambitions for mountains in global environmental and policy discourse.
"We must strengthen our efforts to increase ambitions; to preserve [mountains’] beauty and value for future generations."
– Bożena Haczek (Head of Unit, Department of Nature Conservation, Ministry of Climate and Environment of Poland)
To strengthen this message, the virtual “Mountain Biodiversity Day” event held on 13th January 2021 brought together experts and political representatives from mountain regions all over the world working in the field of mountain biodiversity.
The diverse mix of speakers from policy, research, youth, and regional organisations presented and exchanged views on multiple aspects of mountain biodiversity. Although the event was divided into three segments (Global Mountains, Post-2020 Segment and Alps), there was a united, resounding call for transboundary and trans-sectoral cooperation and collaboration.
Mountain Biodiversity Day was a unique opportunity to bring together voices from around the world to promote the importance and relevance of mountains looking to the adoption of a Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework at the 15th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity later this year. Moreover, hosting Mountain Biodiversity Day in the first month of 2021 was even more fitting given that this year signals the kick-off year for the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem restoration.
"The month of January is the first stage of this great year devoted to biodiversity. [January] has already been marked by the organisation of a One Planet Summit dedicated to biodiversity, aimed at supporting and amplifying the actions of all stakeholders towards the preservation and restoration of biodiversity."
– Bérangère Abba (Secretary of State on Biodiversity, France)
Mountain Biodiversity Day not only brought together great speakers from around the world but also addressed a diverse range of topics focused not only on what mountains are – rich in biodiversity and local cultures, as well as exposed to threats and deterioration – but also what they can do – namely, offer opportunities and means for conservation. Speakers drew attention to the fragility and sensitivity of mountain environments and their (human and non-human) inhabitants but also told stories of their (often surprising) resilience in adapting to global changes.
"With complex topographies, mountains are refuges for species, they represent rich cultural and ethnic diversity, and provide numerous examples of human and biologic adaptations to extreme climates."
– Bruno Pozzi (Director Europe Office, United Nations Environment Programme)
Mountain Biodiversity Day rounded off with an intergenerational perspective on strategies to protect Alpine biodiversity, bringing together representatives from the Alpine Convention, Carpathian Convention and EUSALP as well as young professionals working on biodiversity and ecological connectivity. The discussions centred on the question “What are the key elements for international cooperation to ensure biodiversity protection for generations to come?”
"We need to take our commitments seriously. We owe the urgency to preserve and restore biodiversity and its intangible and incalculable value to our Alps and to our future generations."
– Alenka Smerkolj (Secretary General of the Alpine Convention)
We would like to thank all the speakers for their contributions and engagement in raising awareness for the world’s mountains!
Mountain Biodiversity Day was hosted by the outgoing French Presidency of the Alpine Convention in cooperation with the French Presidency of the EU-Strategy for the Alpine Region (EUSALP). The event was jointly coordinated by the Alpine Network of Protected Areas (ALPARC), the Permanent Secretariat of the Alpine Convention and the Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention as well as the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).