Mountain Partnership at COP27, Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt


A series of side events at COP27 provided an opportunity to discuss how to strengthen participation of mountain people in national and international policy processes and called for greater climate adaptation following scientific recommendations.

Mountain Partnership members from across the world called for an increased coordinated support to accelerate action in Mountains during a series of side events at COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

On 9 November, the side event, “Leading mountain sustainability through innovation”, took place in the Cryosphere pavilion and focused on how to build synergies among different stakeholders to co-develop and implement solutions for tackling challenges related to climate change in mountain regions.

A panel comprising Mountain Partnership members outlined ways to increase climate resilience in mountain communities and develop greater networks of cooperating and sharing information. The event was moderated by Eric Chavez Betancourt, Asociación Oikos. “Urgent action is required to promote innovation and improve diversification of livelihoods in mountain areas” he said.

Stefan Uhlenbrook of WMO called for greater monitoring and observation networks to forecast weather and reduce vulnerabilities. This was followed by Juan Chang of Permian Global sharing key learnings from innovative restoration projects in tropical forests and how these techniques could be adapted to mountain regions.

Anil Mishra of UNESCO highlighted that scientific research has found several iconic World Heritage glaciers will disappear by 2050 and this melting is expected to accelerate. In total, around 18,600 glaciers are melting with severe impacts both in mountain regions and downstream areas with significant effects on livelihoods, agricultural activities, and social development.

Next, Adriana Vidal of IUCN discussed the effectiveness of theEbA (ecosystem-based adaptation) approach and recommend that different sources of finance – both public and private – should be explored, including micro-credit and small village loans. She outlined how community finance is key to building resilience in mountain communities and ecosystems.

The event concluded with remarks from Onno Rühl, who called for greater ambition in relation to what stakeholders and policy makers are trying to achieve in mountains and to move away from thinking of these communities as marginalized.

The side event on 11 November, “IPCC Cross-Chapter 5: Mountains – sharing knowledge to promote adaptation initiatives in mountains”, addressed how scientific evidence can be used to strengthen participation of mountain people in national and international policy processes.

Representatives from the Mountain Research Initiative (MRI), The Mountain Institute (TMI), Albertine Rift Conservation Society (ARCOS), Karnali Integrated Rural Development and Research Centre (KIRDARC) and International Centre for Environmental Education and Community Development (ICENECDEV) discussed the need for adequate and coordinated support in mountain regions, how to go beyond recommendations within the IPCC report and key findings, and how to extend a science policy dialogue on these matters.

Carolina Adler moderated the event and highlighted that mountains have previously been included in two other recent IPCC papers as part of the sixth assessment, in September 2019 and February 2022; prior to these publications, mountains were not part of similar assessment reports for almost thirty years. “What happens in the mountains does not stay in the mountains, it affects all of us”, she said.

Mirella Gallardo of TMI outlined the importance of bringing technical specialists and local knowledge together, paired with an EbA approach in communities 3,000 metres above sea level in the Andes region. Sam Kanyamibwa of ARCOS provided an overview of their work in East Africa and how they have been working for over ten years to advance sustainable mountain development; focusing on capacity building, networking and information sharing to guide actions, such as the IPCC reports.

Geeta Pandey of KIRDARC in Nepal outlined how their work brings together communities and local stakeholders, including local government representatives, to engage in dialogue and discuss potential policy and legislation impacts. The final speaker, Fongoh Eric of ICENECDEV in Cameroon, referred to the economics of mountain biodiversity and the value these ecosystems contribute towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He called for greater linkages between agendas, specifically referring to the SDGs, The Paris Agreement and One Planet Network.

On November 14, the Tajikistan pavilion hosted the event entitled "Roadmap for 2025: International year of glaciers", organized by the Hydrometeorological Agency of the Republic of Tajikistan, with speakers from Tajikistan, University of Saskatchewan, WMO, UNESCO and FAO/ Mountain Partnership Secretariat. Speakers discussed the impacts of climate change in the cryosphere and high mountains and possible synergies with other initiatives to further support the draft resolution for 2025 and for glacier conservations, such as the International Year for Mountain Sustainable Development, the UN 2023 Water Conference and the International Decade for Action on Water for Sustainable Development, 2018 – 2028.

The final side event on 17 November, “Bringing mountains to the forefront by leveraging the International Year of Mountains 2022”, considered the urgency of the environmental and climate crisis in mountainous regions and within the International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development. The session discussed how to bring mountains to the forefront of international processes, and to plenary discussions of future COPs.

Moderator Pem Kandel of the Government of Nepal called for mountains to be included within plenary sessions at COP28 in the United Arab Emirates. He considered that while IYSMD has been effective raising the importance of mountains and the ecosystem services they provide to lowland communities, greater attention is required that must be translated into action.

Elena Manaenkova of UNWMO emphasized that mountains are water towers of the world, that the risks are very high in these areas, and it is important to prioritize them as most glaciers will be gone by 2050. She also discussed ways in which we must adapt and stressed that exchange of information is key. “Data is useless without it being shared” she said.

Marc Rossell Soler of the Government of Andorra outlined that Andorra is actively seeking the inclusion of mountains in the United Nations processes; mentioning the Aspen Declaration as an example of mountain countries working together to create written commitments and solidarity. He also referred to the ministerial meeting convened by the Government of Andorra earlier in the same day, to begin building a roadmap with other mountain countries, to strengthen climate action for the upcoming COP28.

Claudio Javier Rozencwaig of the Government of Argentina suggested that dialogue is the way forward to increase greater political support for restoration and we must learn from diverse sources of knowledge to improve mountain communities’ quality of life.

Livio Spadavecchia, of the Government of Italy highlighted that it is up to governments to act within an official global context to include mountains in UNFCCC processes. “We need to translate attention into action to open the doors to COP28”, he said. Nurlan Aitmurzaev, of the Government of Kyrgyz Republic thanked Andorra for championing mountains and recognizing the need for international cooperation in these regions. He referred to the group of mountainous landlocked countries within the UNFCCC and proposed opening this group to all countries to advance further action to support mountains.

The final speaker, Gertrude Kambauwa of the Government of Malawi called for greater commitments to sustainable mountain development, sharing that as a newly joined member of the Mountain Partnership, they are learning from other countries on how to develop strategies to manage and achieve this.

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