Photo of spring equinox festival in Iran wins International Mountain Day 2018 competition
11 December 2018, Rome - An image from a spring equinox festival on a mountain in Iran has won the annual International Mountain Day photography competition organized by FAO to heighten awareness of the importance of mountains worldwide.
Salar Arkan is the 2018 winner with the entry “Torches” — depicting a ceremonial torch lighting during Iran’s Nowruz, or New Year, festival which is held at the time of the Northern Hemisphere’s spring equinox. Over 138 entries were received from 45 countries for this year’s photo competition to mark International Mountain Day [on Tuesday/today.] This year’s theme is #MountainsMatter and entrants were asked to provide images depicting why mountains matter to them and to their communities.
During International Mountain Day, countries worldwide mark the occasion by holding conferences, treks, film festivals and poetry readings to raise awareness of how many vital services — from fresh water to energy to livelihoods — mountains provide, and the great threat to these services that is posed by climate change.
The social media hashtag #MountainsMatter is a reminder that more than half of the world’s population relies on mountains that provide 60 to 80 percent of the world's freshwater, indispensable to eliminating poverty and hunger. For example, fresh water from mountains is fundamental to achieving global food security, as it is used by farmers to irrigate crops in many lowland agricultural regions. Some of the world's largest cities, including New York, Rio de Janeiro, Nairobi, Tokyo and Melbourne, are dependent on freshwater from mountains.
But climate change poses an enormous threat, by exacerbating land degradation as well as natural disasters that destroy lives and livelihoods in the mountains and below. Climate change contributes to the soaring occurrence of fatal landslides, up by 125 percent between 2003 and 2017. As avalanches, mudflows and landslides sweep down, they strip bare forests, flooding communities and populations in their paths.
The dangers are most immediate for the one billion people who live in the world’s high places, which are on the very front lines of climate change. By causing devastating weather events — from droughts on Nepal’s highest altitudes to typhoons in the mountains of the Philippines — climate change is destroying mountain communities, mountain peoples and their livelihoods.
The #MountainsMatter campaign is urging greater government support through policies and investments in sustainable development, as well as in social safety-net programmes, training and education to help to boost the resilience of mountain dwellers. Consumers can show their support by purchasing food and other goods identified by the Mountain Partnership Products Initiative label — a guarantee that mountain producers have been fairly compensated for their work. Those products range from the unique purple rice grown in India’s Himalayas to Ceibal coffee from Panama.