Spotlighting solutions for building resilience in mountains at High Summit COP26


Diversification of livelihoods, capacity development, investments and pro-mountain policies are needed to build the resilience of mountain peoples to shocks and global changes, Mountain Partnership Secretariat Programme Officer Rosalaura Romeo said at the High Summit COP26.

Romeo discussed the socioeconomic impacts of climate change in mountain regions during the panel session on European strategies for Alpine regions – one of the eight scientific sessions of the two-day Summit and international conference on mountains, climate change and sustainable development.

Mountains are home to 15 percent of the global population, host about half of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, and provide up to 60-80 percent of the world's freshwater – without which sustainable development that aims to eliminate poverty and hunger would not be possible.

Yet changes in climate are threatening all dimensions of food security in mountains: food availability, access, utilization and stability. According to a recent FAO study, as of 2017, one in two rural mountain people in developing countries was vulnerable to food insecurity. 

“We need to strengthen the resilience of mountain peoples, their economies and their ecosystems by promoting climate change adaption through traditional knowledge and innovation,” Romeo said. She called for the sustainable use of natural resources and reducing land degradation to protect and restore mountain ecosystems. 

Putting mountains at the centre of environmental policies

Organized by Mountain Partnership member EvK2Minoprio in collaboration with the Minoprio Foundation, the High Summit COP26 on 24-25 September 2021 saw the participation of students, researchers, politicians, administrators, associations and entrepreneurs, who addressed a range of issues affecting mountains – from climate change and ecosystem services, to transport and circular economies, to mountain peoples’ well-being and strategies for the management of mountain territories.

"Mountains and young people are decisive elements for identifying a strategy to limit carbon dioxide emissions and find solutions to climate change," said Benedetto Della Vedova, Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Italy. "The High Summit is important within the preparatory work for COP26 because mountains play a crucial role, firstly because highlands are vulnerable territories affected by climate change, and secondly because mountains are the main providers of drinking water in the world."

Finance Minister of Gilgit Baltistan Javed Manwa connected from Pakistan. Gilgit Baltistan is a mountainous region in the north of the country, where EvK2 has been present for many years with its scientific and ecological research activities. "We have the tallest water tower in the world, and ours is a region that requires a lot of attention,” Minister Manwa said in his concluding remarks. 

"These two days of the High Summit leave us with great hope," said Agostino Da Polenza, creator and promoter of the initiative. “The interventions from university students made it clear how fundamental young people are for mountains. Their words expressed love for both nature and high elevations, and an awareness of the need to protect mountains as important reservoirs of biodiversity for future generations.” 

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Photo by Pietro Coerezza

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