Mountains and climate change: From understanding to action (2009)

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Mountains are among the regions most sensitive to climate change. Some of the most visible indicators of climate change come from mountain areas, such as the widespread retreat of glaciers that has been observed from polar to tropical regions in recent decades. The sensitive position of mountain areas has been clearly highlighted by the IPCC in its latest report in 2007. Mountains provide freshwater to half of the world?s population and are home to half of all global biodiversity hotspots. Mountains are also important areas for recreation in an increasingly urbanized world. This raises crucial questions: How will these vital services be affected by climate change? Will mountain areas continue to provide the same amount of freshwater as they have in the past? What will be the magnitude and the impact of climate change in mountains and their adjacent lowlands? Where will the changes take place and who will be most affected? The present publication aims to create awareness about potential changes and related challenges for global development. It shows that not all is doom and gloom by presenting nascent and promising initiatives at the local, national, and international level. These endeavours attempt both to face the challenges presented by climate change and to take advantage of emerging opportunities wherever possible. Switzerland is often seen as a mountain country par excellence. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC has supported the development of mountain regions worldwide since the early days of its involvement in international development cooperation. Many of SDC?s first programmes were anchored in mountainous countries. Mountain regions and their development have retained an important position in their engagement with development up to the present day. Together with its partners, SDC has supported regional and global initiatives to strengthen the position of mountains on the international agenda. Prominent examples include the creation of Chapter 13 on mountains in Agenda 21, adopted at the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992; engagement within the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) and the related resolutions on mountains in 2007 and 2009; support for the International Year of Mountains IYM 2002 and the establishment of the International Mountain Partnership initiative in the wake of the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg 2002. The present publication, prepared on the occasion of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change UNFCCC 2009 in Copenhagen, underscores Switzerland?s commitment to sustainable mountain development. It is aims to help raise awareness about the key role played by mountain regions in global development and promotes practical action in the face of the manifold challenges and the probable opportunities that climate change presents for mountain regions in an ever faster changing world.
Language: English
Imprint: Geographica Bernensia with the support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), and an international team of contributors. Bern. 2009
Series: Report,