Maldives Foreign Minister and President of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Abdulla Shahid, urged increased engagement, engagement and investment in mountain development.

He made the remark in a message during the opening ceremony to celebrate the International Year for Sustainable Mountain Development.

PGA Shahid went on to note that marking 2022 as the International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development recognizes the growing challenges and restrictions faced by mountain regions, especially developing countries.

Describing mountains as the “most striking” features the globe has to offer, PGA Shahid said they are the sources of most rivers and act as “cradles”, “barriers” and “bridges”. for the species, and are “crucial” for survival. and sustainability of “many” communities, while playing a major role in determining global and regional climates.

Home to almost 15% of the world’s population, mountains make up around 27% of the planet’s land area and prove to be a vital source of fresh water for nearly two billion people around the world, Shahid said, who noted that mountains are also seen as a major issue. source of energy, biological diversity, mineral wealth and agricultural productivity.

He went on to note that mountains are home to a wide range of flora and fauna and provide important supporting ecosystem services to billions of downstream communities, in addition to being “closely” linked to people and communities, which which turned out to be an inspiration for culture, and traditions.

Their recognition and protection are imperative for the sustainability of natural resources, ecosystems, the improvement of human well-being and the sustainability of communities and their cultures. As we recognize the beauty and benefits of mountains, we must also face the challenges and damage we inflict.

Abdulla Shahid, PGA.

Highlighting that global mountain areas are currently experiencing environmental degradation due to the adverse effects of climate change, PGA Shahid noted that the science is “very clear” that climate change is affecting major mountain ranges.

That being said, the Maldivian Foreign Minister added that it is estimated that a third of the Himalayan glaciers will disappear by 2100, with rising temperatures having already led to more landslides, the loss of glacier mass and the loss of agriculture.

In mountainous regions of the world, the snowpack serves as frozen reservoirs. Warmer temperatures cause these snowpacks to melt, reducing their availability for food and production. The pandemic and associated restrictions have accelerated these challenges by cutting off mountain communities’ sources of income. It is relevant to note that mountain tourism attracts 15 to 20% of world tourism.

Abdulla Shahid, PGA.

That being said, PGA Shahid claimed that the current scenario needs to be reversed before it’s too late as mountains matter to “everyone”, whether they live up high or down below.

Highlighting the importance of raising awareness among the public and private sectors and all relevant stakeholders, the PGA has joined the call to increase their engagement, commitment and investment in mountain development.

As such, Shahid urged harnessing the momentum and energy of this year of “sustainable mountain development” to jointly promote global commitments to protect these “vulnerable” ecosystems and to strengthen the resilience of those who live in the mountains.

He also urged the world to take inspiration from this international year for change, to work together to save mountains, environments, communities and the planet.