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Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message for the launch of the International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development, today:

Today marks the launch of the International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly after a proposal by Kyrgyzstan and 93 co-sponsors.  Mountainous areas cover almost a third of the planet’s land surface and are home to some 1.1 billion people, or 15 per cent of the world’s population.  Mountain regions provide essential ecosystem services by regulating climate and hydrological cycles.  They support livelihoods through farming, grazing, tourism and natural products.  And they are significant havens of rare and fragile biological diversity, with many species existing nowhere else.  From the 4,300 varieties of potatoes found in the Andes to the 5,000 varieties of coffee that grow in Ethiopia, these genetic resources are staples of farming and food systems around the world.

Many indigenous communities have millennia of experience in sustainably conserving the mountain environment.  But, around the world, poverty, food insecurity and the social exclusion of people living in mountain areas is increasing.  More than half of all rural people in mountain areas face food insecurity.  Access to safe and affordable drinking water, basic sanitation and sustainable modern energy remains limited.  Environmental degradation and disaster risk are increasing, exacerbated by climate disruption.  Mountains are more vulnerable to climate change and adaptation capacity is insufficient.

The International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development 2022 is an opportunity to place the sustainability and resilience of mountain ecosystems and communities at the heart of international processes, policies and investments within the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  I urge the international community to observe the International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development along with the United Nations system.  Let us work together for sustainable mountain development so mountain peoples and the planet as a whole can thrive.

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