Heads of Government call for action on mountains during UNGA General Debate


In front of world leaders, Sadyr Zhaparov, President of the Kyrgyz Republic, and Xavier Espot Zamora, Head of Government of Andorra, underlined the importance of climate action for mountains during their statements in the annual high-level General Debate of the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

The 78th session of the UNGA marked a crucial milestone in the journey towards achieving the 2030 Agenda and the urgent need to put the 17 Sustainable Development Goals back on track. During the annual high-level UNGA General Debate on 19–23 and 26 September, heads of State and Government and ministers gathered to explore solutions to the intertwined global challenges to advance peace, security, and sustainable development.

Sadyr Zhaparov, President of the Kyrgyz Republic, calls on governments to implement the global framework for the Five Years of Action for the Development of Mountain Regions

In his address during the General Debate on 19 September, President of the Kyrgyz Republic Sadyr Zhaparov announced the global framework for the Five Years of Action for the Development of Mountain Regions 2023–2027. Developed with the Mountain Partnership and partners, the framework outlines pathways at global, regional, and national levels to conserve and restore mountain ecosystems, build mountain peoples' resilience to climate change, and improve quality of life in mountain areas.

In 2022, at the initiative of the Government of Kyrgyzstan together with the Government of Italy, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the resolution on 'Sustainable Mountain Development', co-sponsored by 110 Member States, declaring 2023–2027 as Five Years of Action for the Development of Mountain Regions.

President Zhaparov underlined the urgency of the climate crisis in mountains, noting the importance of mountain glaciers as an integral part of the Earth's cryosphere, influencing not only the planet's climate but also providing a habitat for flora and fauna and supplying water to 50 percent of humanity.

"In light of global climate change, mountainous regions have been particularly vulnerable. In Kyrgyzstan, mountains occupy about 94 percent of the territory," said President Zhaparov. "If earlier it was predicted that by 2050 the area of glaciers in Kyrgyzstan would be reduced by half, and by 2100 they could disappear altogether, now there is reason to believe that this will happen much faster. This leads to aggravation of problems throughout the region, such as lack of water for drinking and agriculture, land degradation, and a threat to food security."

The Kyrgyz President declared that Kyrgyzstan will host the second Global Mountain Summit "Bishkek+25" in 2027 – 25 years after the first summit – to conclude the Five Years of Action. He invited the fellow Member States to actively participate in the quinquennium and make concrete commitments to conserve mountain ecosystems and glaciers.

Among the actions, President Zhaparov called for the creation of a broad coalition of mountainous countries to address climate adaptation and the transition to a 'green' economy in mountains. He furthermore expressed gratitude to the Group of Friends of Mountainous Countries, the Mountain Partnership, and the entire United Nations system for their comprehensive support of Kyrgyzstan's initiatives and reiterated the country's readiness for continued cooperation.

Following the United Nations General Assembly, President Zhaparov signed a national decree on 21 September declaring 2023–2027 as Five Years of Action for the Development of Mountain Regions in the Kyrgyz Republic and outlining a national roadmap for the implementation of the quinquennium.

Watch Sadyr Zhaparov's speech and read the full statement

Xavier Espot Zamora, Head of Government of Andorra, notes the sensitivity of the Pyrenees Mountains to climate change

Andorra is a high mountain country, particularly sensitive to changing climate, which seriously threatens its biodiversity, water supply and even its way of life, emphasized Xavier Espot Zamora, Head of Government of Andorra, in his statement on 22 September during the General Debate.

He noted Andorra's active involvement in the Mountain Partnership – the United Nations alliance dedicated to mountain peoples and environments – and how the Andorran Government advocated for a specific mention of the Pyrenees in the Aspen Declaration, the outcome document of the sixth Global Meeting of the Mountain Partnership in 2022. The Government of Andorra also supports the Mountain Partnership Secretariat in the form of a seconded officer.

"We have advocated for the particular vulnerability of mountainous regions throughout the world that they should enjoy specific attention in international fora and fighting climate change," Espot stated. "This is a battle than can only be won if we focus specifically on energy transition and meet the challenges of the world that each country needs to meet, responding clearly to international and national commitments towards our citizens in order to achieve carbon neutrality."

Watch Xavier Espot Zamora's speech and read the full statement

Photo: UN Photo/Cia Pak

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