Recognizing the challenges faced by the United Nations Member States, affected by accelerated changes in high mountains, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and its partners, are making a concerted worldwide effort to address emerging needs precipitated by these changes, and foster robust and sustainable monitoring and climate service delivery functions, and advances in critical scientific research, to close the capacity, knowledge, and information gaps in these regions. Once available and accessible, these services will provide people in mountain, downstream, and lowland regions with adequate information for decision-making regarding water, weather, climate, and hazard management.
At this unique juncture, WMO, as the UN system’s authoritative voice on Climate, Weather and Water, and its partners, will co-host a High Mountain Summit, on 25-27 February 2019, at the WMO Headquarters, in Geneva (Switzerland).
This Summit will build on the momentum created by major international initiatives including the 2030 Agenda, endorsed in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly and establishing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, the Paris Agreement that entered in force in 2016. Other key milestones that highlight the role of the mountain cryosphere in a changing climate are also made explicit in the upcoming 2019 Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC) of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which includes a dedicated chapter on High Mountain areas, as well as a cross-chapter paper on ‘Mountains’ to feature in the IPCC’s sixth assessment report (AR6) Working Group II report on Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, scheduled for publication in 2021, and the 2018 IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.50C (SR1.5). The “Framework for Action for implementing the 2030 Agenda for Mountains”, approved in December 2017 by the Mountain Partnership members, also referred to role of the mountain cryosphere in a changing climate, and the impact on mountain populations.
The High Mountain Summit will seek to close the gap and address the need for accessible, reliable, and policy relevant information on water resources, natural hazard management, linked to accelerated changes in high mountain cryosphere and ecosystems, with the objective to inform, and therefore, promote Sustainable Mountain Development.
Its aim is to create a platform to foster and enhance inter-agency collaboration at National, Regional and International levels across sectors, scales, and actors, by leveraging existing and planned initiatives and projects, for providing integrated climate service delivery functions along the production and utility value chain, and contributing to advancing the scientific understanding of mountain processes and their impacts, as well we addressing the education and capacity building needs.
The UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/71/234 (Dec 2016) on Sustainable Mountain Development has recognized “that mountains provide sensitive indications of climate change through phenomena such as modifications to biological diversity, the retreat of mountain glaciers, flash floods and changes in seasonal runoff, which are having an impact on major sources of freshwater in the world, and stresses the need to undertake actions to minimize the negative effects of these phenomena, promote adaptation measures and prevent the loss of biological diversity.” The Resolution “Encourages all relevant entities of the United Nations system, within their respective mandates, to further enhance their constructive efforts to strengthen inter-agency collaboration to promote sustainable mountain development.