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WMO Summit identifies priority action for high mountains

31.10.2019

Rising global temperatures are causing unprecedented changes in the environments of high mountain regions. The mountain cryosphere - glaciers, snow, and permafrost - and high-altitude mountain ecosystems, provide and regulate freshwater resources for around half of the world’s population. These ecosystems now face severe pressure as a result of climate change and ongoing changes in the distribution of precipitation.

This, in turn, increases the risk of natural hazards, with cascading and, often, devastating effects for populations and economies in mountain regions and downstream, including in densely populated lowland areas. Often, these threats exacerbate existing vulnerabilities of social-ecological systems.

In view of the challenges, a wide array of partners came together at the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) High Mountain Summit from 29 to 31 October 2019 in Geneva, Switzerland. Organized by the WMO and partners, including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Mountain Partnership (MP), the Summit was convened to address the effects of climate change observed in high mountain cryosphere and their downstream impacts.

The goal of the Summit was to foster high-level dialogue and engage key stakeholders in identifying priority actions on policy, science, observations and services, and develop a roadmap to science-based, user-driven knowledge and information systems supporting sustainable development and risk reduction in mountain and downstream regions.

“It’s crucial to promote mountain specific policies and investment with concrete scientific evidence to back them up. The World Meteorological Organization’s work does just this,” said Rosalaura Romeo, Mountain Partnership Secretariat Programme Officer.

The event included opening and closing plenary sessions, side events, four thematic sessions with keynotes, poster presentations, breakout sessions, and panel and plenary discussions. The opening session included a video message from Qu Dongyu, Director General, FAO, and speakers at the Summit included Ewald Rametsteiner, Deputy Director, Forestry Department, FAO, and François Pythoud, MP Steering Committee Member Representative and Special Envoy for International Sustainable Agriculture at the Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture.

One of the Summit co-chairs was Mountain Research Initiative Executive Director Carolina Adler, who is also the MP Steering Committee Representative and a lead author of the IPCC report chapter on the changes occurring in high mountain areas.

The key topics addressed were drivers to action, stakeholder needs, closing the capacity gap and research innovation. 

The Summit concluded with the adoption of a Call for Action on High Mountain Weather, Climate and Water, and a roadmap of priority activities.

The Summit follows shortly after the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, which includes a dedicated chapter on high mountain areas.

Link to WMO Press Release

Read more

Summit concept note

Summit promotional video

Summit programme

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