The Mountain Partnership Initiative and the Food and the Agriculture Organization (FAO) are holding the “Mountains under pressure, climate, hunger, migration” conference in Rome on 11-13 December. The event seeks to recognize the critical role of mountains for society and the environment and how climate change is affecting mountain communities and ecosystems. The events marks International Mountain Day (11 December) and has attracted high-level representatives from mountainous countries in all continents, mountain goodwill ambassadors, and representatives of United Nations conventions, intergovernmental organizations, and the private sector and civil society, many of them Mountain Partnership members.
The opening keynote address of WMO Secretary-General Petteri Talaas set the stage for the plenary discussions by highlighting the key stressors in the mountainous environment, with a focus on climate change, climate risks and water scarcity. The Secretary-General pointed to two relevant WMO event in the coming year: the Water Conference “Prosperity through Hydrological Services” from 7-9 May and the High Mountain Summit in the latter half of the year. The participants appreciated the potential for continuing the engagement with WMO through these and other events in the future.
The Rome meeting will launch a Framework for Action with policies that strengthen the resilience of mountain peoples and the natural environment. It aims to ensure that sustainable mountain development is integrated into the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and into the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
The glacial melting, mud flows, water stress and the loss of economic diversity and economic opportunity leading to migration are recurring themes in the interventions of delegates from mountainous countries from all continents. In addition, the need for accurate information on changes in the climate, especially at high elevation, has been noted by all delegates. The speakers are stressing the need for action on three domains:
- To increase awareness and understanding for decision-makers and political levels;
- To speak with a common voice and bring together the diversity and divergence of communities, globally; and
- To innovate in developing solutions, including direct engagement of the civil society of the countries affected.
This meeting aligns well with the strategic activities of WMO. The 2015 World Meteorological Congress requested that the WMO Executive Council coordinate High Mountain Activities with the relevant international science programmes and consider supporting studies of the water-ice-air-ecosystem-human interaction. A roadmap is currently being developed for enabling improved operational services for high mountain regions, including a better understanding of the teleconnections between high and mid latitudes.