By: Jacob Stewart, Community Director

Jacob Stewart (left) and Katie Kamelamela (right) stand at the center for EXPO CITY 2020 during UNFCCC COP28.

We are excited to share insights from the recent event, “Just and Sustainable Climate Futures: Stories and Solutions from the Mountains.” This dynamic gathering, hosted on December 11, 2023, at the JustNorth Pavilion during UNFCCC COP28 in observance of UN International Mountain Day, brought together 18 passionate individuals from various mountain communities worldwide. Led by Katie Kamelamela, Assistant Professor at Arizona State University and Mountain Sentinels Fellow, along with Jacob Stewart, Mountain Sentinels Community Director, the event aimed to explore community-based approaches to climate adaptation, mitigation, and sustainable mountain development. 

A Collaborative Dialogue

The heart of the event was the discussion around six pivotal questions, encouraging participants to delve into their unique perspectives and experiences. These questions touched on crucial aspects of mountain life, including claims on mountains, visions for COP28 outcomes, the meaning of restoration, essential elements for healthier mountain communities, materials/resources used in mountain work, and common themes emerging from the discussions.

Participants engage in conversation during the Just and Sustainable Climate Futures: Stories and Solutions from the Mountains event.

Diverse Perspectives, Shared Goals

The 18 participants formed seven self-made groups, bringing together perspectives ranging from educators and students to NGOs, community knowledge holders, government representatives, researchers, and practitioners. This diversity fostered rich conversations, allowing for a holistic exploration of the challenges and opportunities faced by mountain communities.

Digital Engagement and Collective Wisdom

Participants engaged with a digital platform to submit their responses, creating an interactive and inclusive space for sharing insights during the group discussion. This digital approach not only facilitated the exchange of ideas but also paved the way for highlighting commonalities and shared experiences within the larger group.

Artistic Elements and Cultural Contributions

The event wasn’t just about discussions; it was an immersive experience enriched by music and artwork. The backdrop was adorned with Paintings by Hella Hidai, an Afghan artist living under the Taliban regime, providing a unique perspective on the intersection of art and climate issues. The musical ambience, curated by Wild Alchemy Lab, added an extra layer of depth to the event.

Acknowledging Contributions

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to all participants for their valuable contributions and for sharing their stories. The combination of academic expertise, community knowledge, and artistic expression created a truly enriching space for dialogue.

What’s Next?

The insights gained from this event have been compiled into a comprehensive report intended as a resource for policymakers, researchers, and advocates working towards sustainable mountain development.

Let’s continue the dialogue and work together towards a more just and sustainable future for our mountains and the communities that call them home.