Key messages

  • Mountains cover 22 percent of the world’s land surface  and are home to 13 percent of the world’s population, some 915 million people.
  • They provide between 60-80 percent of the world’s population with fresh water for drinking, domestic use, irrigation, hydropower and industry. 
  • They support approximately 25 percent of terrestrial biodiversity as well as vital genetic resources for locally adapted crops and livestock.
  • Mountain ecosystems are extremely vulnerable to climate change – and consequences such as rapid glacier melting are far-reaching and potentially devastating.  
  • Mountain people are among the world’s poorest and hungriest: in developing countries, 39 percent are considered vulnerable to food insecurity, an estimated 329 million people.
  • Climate change, inappropriate land use, deforestation and population growth can endanger livelihoods, threaten biodiversity and trigger disasters such as floods and landslides


Expert interviews


Field projects

FAO is an active member of the Mountain Partnership, a voluntary alliance of partners dedicated to improving the lives of mountain people and protecting mountain environments around the world. Through its membership and expertise the organization addresses the challenges facing mountain regions and stimulates initiatives that will ensure improved quality of life and environments in the world’s mountain regions.

FAO has been actively conducting work in the fields of sustainable mountain development, watershed management and forest hydrology;

last updated:  Monday, October 17, 2016