INTERNATIONAL MOUNTAIN DAY (DEC 11)
The General Assembly of the United Nations endorsed International Mountain Day (IMD) in 2003, and encouraged the international community to “organize events at all levels” on December 11th, “to heighten the importance of sustainable mountain development.”
This year’s theme (2017) is “Mountains under Pressure: climate, hunger, migration.”
Almost one billion people live in mountain areas, and over half the human population depends on mountains for water, food and clean energy. Yet mountains are under threat from climate change, land degradation, overexploitation and natural disasters, with potentially far-reaching and devastating consequences, both for mountain communities and the rest of the world.
Mountains are early indicators of climate change and as global climate continues to warm, mountain people — some of the world’s hungriest and poorest — face even greater struggles to survive. The rising temperatures also mean that mountain glaciers are melting at unprecedented rates, affecting freshwater supplies downstream for millions of people. Mountain communities, however, have a wealth of knowledge and strategies accumulated over generations, on how to adapt to climate variability.
Climate change, climate variability and climate-induced disasters, combined with political, economic and social marginalization, increase the vulnerability of mountain peoples to food shortages and extreme poverty. Currently, about 39 percent of the mountain population in developing countries, or 329 million people, is estimated to be vulnerable to food insecurity.
As the vulnerability of mountain populations grows, migration increases both abroad and to urban centres. Those who remain are often women, left to manage the farms but with little access to credit, training and land tenure rights. Out-migration from mountain areas will also result in an inestimable loss in terms of provision of ecosystem services and preservation of cultural and agrobiodiversity. Investments and policies can alleviate the harsh living conditions of mountain communities and reverse out-migration trends from mountain areas.
International Mountain Day 2017 provides an occasion to highlight how climate, hunger and migration are affecting highlands and to ensure that sustainable mountain development is integrated into the 2030 Agenda and in the implementation of the Paris Agreement.
This year, the theme is also linked to a high-level conference on mountains, to be held on 11 December at FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy, that will focus on the challenges and opportunities in sustainable mountain development and will launch a Declaration and a Call to Action to support concrete actions and establish policies that strengthen the resilience of mountain peoples and environments.
While “Mountain under Pressure: climate, hunger, migration” is the suggested theme for 2017, countries, communities and organizations are welcome to celebrate International Mountain Day through the choice of a different theme that might be more relevant to them.
The Haines Junction Mountain Fest 2017 details are being confirmed, please check back for updates on this page.
THE CANADIAN MOUNTAIN NETWORK
The Canadian Mountain Network, a pan-Canadian alliance of partners representative of universities, governments, First Nations, Non-government organizations (NGO’s) and businesses wish to advance that promotional initiative, and to that end have determined that they will lead the preparation of a national Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) proposal.
The Networks of Centres of Excellence is a joint initiative of four Canadian Research Councils, and includes some 1,900 public and private sector organizations around the globe. The Networks of Centres of Excellence provide funding for research, and administer programs that provide multi-year funding (five years at a time which may be renewed up to twice, for a fifteen year funding envelope.) The money is provided to mobilize multidisciplinary research in specific areas of interest with a view to developing a more advanced, healthier, competitive and prosperous Canada by finding solutions to major social, economic and health care challenges.
The Canadian Mountain Network includes within its governance structure an “International Mountain Day Committee.” The Network has identified the need to form a Yukon Initiating Group. Still in a fledgling state, that group has now coalesced and is charged with investigating:
- Who is involved in Mountain Research in the Yukon;
- What are Yukon’s research priorities and infrastructure needs; and
- How the Canadian Mountain Network might be structured to maximize benefits to the Yukon.
We understand that the Canadian Mountain Network is currently leading the preparation of a national Networks of Centres of Excellence proposal, and we feel the Kluane region is well suited to offer the world class environment to attract such attention.
HAINES JUNCTION AND KLUANE NATIONAL PARK AND RESERVE
Looking beyond the festival, Haines Junction is the gateway to the Kluane National Park and Reserve of Canada. Not only is our area a mountainous region but it is indeed among the most unique mountainous regions on the planet.
The park itself comprises an area of some 22,061 square kilometres which, contiguous on the ground with the Wrangle-St. Elias and Glacier Bay National Parks in the United States, and the Tatshenshini-Alsek parkin Yukon and British Columbia form the largest terrestrial based UNESCO World Heritage Site on earth with a combined area of 97,520 square kilometres [some 24.3 million acres.]
The Statement of Significance description of the park provides that Kluane:
- Is home to the largest non-polar icefields in the world
- Is home to some the world’s longest and most spectacular glaciers
- Transitions from northern interior to coastal biogeoclamatic zones
- Hosts high biodiversity with plant and animal communities ranging from marine, coastal forest, montane, sub-alpine and alpine tundra, all in various successional stages
- Hosts the Tatshenshini and Alsek river valleys which are pivotal because they allow ice-free linkages from coast to interior for plant and animal migration
- Demonstrates some of the best examples of glaciation and modification of landscape by glacial action in a region still tectonically active, spectacularly beautiful, and where natural processes prevail.
The criteria originally used to select Kluane as a UNESCO World Heritage Site are equally telling with respect to its unique significance and unparalleled equal:
- It contains superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance
- It is an outstanding example representative of major stages of earth’s history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features
- It is an outstanding example representative of significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, fresh water, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals
- It contains the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation.
Our interest in hosting this festival in Haines Junction is an obvious one:
- Kluane provides a pristine, natural laboratory on our door step which if used sustainably and respectfully might serve to inform various research discipline, and inform our understand of natural phenomena
- The promotion and exposure of this small community on the world stage, as an exemplary example of a most uniquely beautiful and pristine “mountain community”
- We recognise the uniqueness of the area, and the potential contribution that further research and a greater understanding of this area could contribute to our global knowledge base in many disciplines, but not the least of which may be global warming.
- We recognize the importance of the “clean and green” economic opportunities that may accrue from eco-tourism, research and academic pursuit in the region.
- We recognize the opportunity that may be afforded our community youth in potential training and other opportunities.
- We hope that the festival is one small step in helping us eventually attract researchers in securing a “better informed” future through ongoing research in a truly unique area.
- We want to promote winter economic development and tourism in the Haines Junction area through this December festival.
- We hope to promote mountain culture in all its forms in Haines Junction – outdoor recreation, arts, music, literature, First Nation culture, traditional skills, backcountry safety, science and research, and partnerships with all the entities involved in those.
Come on out and enjoy our first annual Haines Junction celebration of International Mountain Day in December 2016!!