Forum on mountain snow leopard opens


The International Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Forum, a high-level event on the conservation of the endangered snow leopard hosted by the President of the Kyrgyz Republic, Mr Almazbek Atambayev, opens today in Bishkek.

Senior representatives of the Governments of the 12 snow leopard range countries, including Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, are joining the event, as well as experts from other nations and leaders from international institutions, donor agencies, conservation organizations and scientific institutions.

The Forum, which is held August 24-25, aims to further strengthen the range countries’ ongoing efforts to protect the snow leopard and to galvanize international support for their plan of securing 20 snow leopard landscapes by the year 2020. It will bolster high-level political will and encourage green investments to implement conservation plans and facilitate green growth models in mountain landscapes.

Half of the world’s biodiversity hotspots are concentrated in mountains. Yet climate change, poverty and poaching all exact a heavy toll on mountain biodiversity.

“Enhancing the resilience of mountain communities and their livelihoods is central to the task of securing the sustainability of snow leopard landscapes. For FAO, and all members of the Mountain Partnership that it hosts, this Forum is an excellent opportunity to further highlight the need place the sustainable mountain development agenda at the centre of international negotiations, policies and investments,” says Andrey Kushlin, Deputy Director - Forestry Policy and Resources at FAO.

A key expected outcome of the Forum is a strong commitment for financial and technical resources from all snow leopard range countries, international financial institutions, corporations and other organizations towards the conservation and sustainable development of snow leopard landscapes in Asia.

The snow leopard is globally endangered. Exact numbers are unknown, but estimates say that there may only be between 3 900 and 6 500 left in the wild. The snow leopard is an integral part of the cultural history of Asia’s mountain peoples and of the national identity of Kyrgyzstan.  

More than just a beautiful, endangered animal, the snow leopard is an icon and an indicator of the health of Asia’s mountain ecosystems.  

Mountains globally supply between 60-80 percent of the world’s freshwater resources, and provide numerous other ecosystem services that have high economic and cultural value.

The 2017 Snow Leopard Forum will be a milestone in the global effort to save the snow leopard that was initiated several years ago by the President of the Kyrgyz Republic, Mr. Atambayev.

In 2013, President Atambayev hosted the 1st Global Snow Leopard Conservation Forum to draw the world’s attention to the plight of the snow leopard, and urge the global community to take appropriate steps to preserve the snow leopard and its ecosystem.

As a result, all twelve range countries endorsed the Bishkek Declaration for Snow Leopard Conservation, and international financial institutions and non-governmental organizations pledged their support.

The Kyrgyz Republic, a long-standing member of the Mountain Partnership, has been an active champion of the international mountain agenda over the years, requesting the United Nations General Assembly to declare the International Year of Mountains in 2002 and holding the Bishkek Mountain Summit at the end of 2002.  Six of the twelve participating countries at the Snow Leopard Forum are members of the Mountain Partnership, the United Nations Alliance dedicated to increasing attention to mountain ecosystems and peoples.

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