Key messages


  • Covering around 22 percent of the earth's land surface, mountains play a critical role in moving the world towards sustainable economic growth.
  • Mountains are home to 13 percent of the world’s population.
  • Mountains not only provide sustenance and well-being to 915 million mountain people around the world but also indirectly benefit billions more living downstream.
  • Ninety percent of the world’s mountain dwellers live in developing countries, where a vast majority live below the poverty line and 1 out of 3 faces the threat of food insecurity.
  • Indigenous and local populations in mountains have unique and valuable local knowledge, traditions and cultural practices that can contribute to effective land management strategies.
  • Mountains provide freshwater, energy and food - resources that will be increasingly scarce in coming decades.
  • Mountains provide 60-80 percent of the world's freshwater - without which sustainable development that aims to eliminate poverty and hunger would not be possible.
  • Some of the world's largest cities, including New York, Rio de Janeiro, Nairobi, Tokyo and Melbourne, are dependent on freshwater from mountains.
  • Mountains contribute to food and nutrition security by providing land for crops, grazing for livestock, watercourses for inland fisheries, and non-wood forest products such as berries, mushrooms and honey.
  • Of the 20 plant species that supply 80 percent of the world's food, six originated and have been diversified in mountains: maize, potatoes, barley, sorghum, quinoa, tomatoes and apples.
  • Mountains are places of tourism and cultural trails. Mountain tourism accounts for about 15–20 percent the global tourism industry.
  • Mountains have a key role to play in providing renewable energy, especially through hydropower, solar power, wind power and biogas.


International Mountain Day The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed 11 December the International Day of Mountains. From 2003, the day is observed each year to celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of mountains. [more]
Mountains and Climate Change: A Global Concern In a changing climate, mountain regions are among the most vulnerable. They provide the world with resources such as water, timber, biodiversity and hydraulic energy and they are at risk. [more]
Papua New Guinea: First National Forest Inventory and Biodiversity Survey Papua New Guinea is embarking on its first national forest inventory (NFI) under the arrangements for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD)+. [more]


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Expert interviews

A spotlight on mountains: Mapping the vulnerabilityof mountain peoples to food insecurity A spotlight on mountains: Mapping the vulnerabilityof mountain peoples to food insecurity

The ambassadors of Italy, the Plurinational State of Bolivia and Switzerland to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) – Pierfrancesco Sacco, Luis Sánchez Gomez, François Pythoud – talk about how mountains contribute to sustainable development in this video.

Mountain Vulnerability Report 329 million of mountain people are potentially food insecure and vulnerable, their number has risen by 30 percent since 2000. Thomas Hofer talks about alarming new data released for International Mountain Day by the Food and Agriculture Organization and the Mountain Partnership. [more]
Thomas Gass, Assistant Secretary-General of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs Thomas Gass, Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs talks about the vital goods and services that mountains provide to communities and the role of partnerships in promoting sustainable mountain development. [more]

last updated:  Monday, December 17, 2018