Children's voices for mountains at COP26


“Children are the future custodians of mountains, and empowering their role through education to be the main actors in addressing climate change is essential,” said Sara Manuelli of the Mountain Partnership Secretariat during a United Nations Climate Change Conference satellite event.

Hosted by the University of Glasgow, the event on 4 November 2021 saw the launch of the call to action “Mountains: the water towers of our world – Children’s call to action to protect mountain areas against the impacts of climate change”, promoted by the Zero Water Day Partnership with support from the Mountain Partnership.

The call to action raises the voices of children around the world and their hopes, dreams and ideas for the future – especially regarding water and mountain ecosystem conservation. In the call, students from schools in Bhutan, Brazil, Germany, Malawi, the United Kingdom and the United States of America express the changes they are witnessing due to climate change and the actions governments should take to respond.

“Through education, raising awareness of mountains as water towers, and tapping into sustainable mountain tourism’s potential to drive sustainable development as well as environmental protection in mountains, we can take major steps to protect mountain areas against the impacts of climate change,” said Manuelli in her opening remarks, introducing the recommendations of the call to action.

The call to action is open for signatures from individuals, organizations and governments to support the initiative via a Google Form.

Coming together for mountains

Over 1 600 people from 81 countries tuned in to the day-long webinar. The programme included presentations by several Mountain Partnership member organizations, including the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation, United Nations Environment Programme, University of Milan, Zero Water Day Partnership, and Mountain Partnership Goodwill Ambassadors Jake Norton and Mira Rai.

From engaging youth on sustainability through climbing and mountaineering, to how youth can contribute to the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration for mountains, speakers came together to inspire the day’s young participants on how they can help achieve a better future.

Climber, photographer and filmmaker Jake Norton shared the changes he has witnessed on Mount Kilimanjaro, which he recently climbed with his children. There, since 1912, the glaciers have lost 85 percent of their mass, and estimates say the snows of Kilimanjaro will be gone by 2033.

Norton said, “Despite all I have seen and all I know, today I find myself optimistic because while my generation struggles to take appropriate and timely action, the generations of tomorrow are showing their passion, dedication, desire to protect and provide for mountains as the mountains have always done for us.”

In her closing remarks, Mountain Partnership Secretariat Programme Officer Rosalaura Romeo expressed, “We need to join forces to reverse the alarming effects of climate change on mountains and safeguard the livelihoods of mountain peoples to ensure they are fully included in the implementation of the Agenda 2030 and not left behind.”

The United Nations Climate Change Conference will include several other mountain-related events. Click here for the full list.

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Photo: ©Zia Ur Rahman Farooqi

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