The UN Climate Change Conference takes places from 1 to 12 December 2014 in Lima this year. International Mountain Day, which was launched by the UN 12 years ago, will be celebrated during the conference on 11 December 2014. Mountains are an important topic at the climate conference. With the support of the SDC, this year’s host country, Peru, built the Mountains and Water Pavilion, where visitors learn about the importance of mountains for sustainable development and the effects of climate change on mountains.
Mountains provide drinking water to two-thirds of the world’s population and also have a high degree of biodiversity. At the same time, they are sensitive ecosystems that are at high risk from climate change. Mountain glaciers and their permanently frozen subsoil, known as permafrost, are melting. This creates new natural hazards, such as flooding and glacial lakes.
The effects of climate change, efforts to mitigate them, and measures to adapt to climate change are being discussed and negotiated at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP20) in Lima from 1 to 12 December this year. The SDC is part of the Swiss negotiating delegation appointed by the Federal Council.
With the support of the SDC, the host country of the conference, Peru, created the Mountains and Water Pavilion, where visitors clearly see the interconnections between water, soil, energy, and food security in mountain regions. At the same time, they can obtain information about the SDC’s climate projects.
On 1 December 2014, the opening day of the conference, Peru’s President Ollanta Humala Tasso visited the pavilion with Peruvian schoolchildren.
11 December 2014: International Mountain Day
International Mountain Day is being celebrated on 11 December 2014, during the UN Climate Conference, which was launched by the UN on that date 12 years ago. An event attended by high-level representatives from mountainous countries such as Bhutan, Kyrgyzstan, Peru and Argentina is being held on the margins of the Climate Conference. The event aims to inform conference participants about the vital importance of mountains for future generations. Another goal is to raise awareness of this importance in view of climate negotiations and the new post-2015 development agendas.
The main topics to be discussed at the event are:
Mountains as water towers
The threat posed to glaciers by climate change
Dealing with natural hazards and proposed holistic approaches to natural disaster risk reduction
The significance of biodiversity and agricultural crop diversity for future global food security
Hydropower for sustainable energy production
The importance of compensation for ecosystem services, e.g. recognition of and compensation for sustainable forest management by local mountain dwellers to combat poverty in mountain regions.
Lack of infrastructure, healthcare and education and training opportunities in mountain regions
The SDC’s commitment in Peru
The SDC is working in Peru through the Global Programme on Climate Change (GPCC) and other programmes. One of its projects is the Climate Change Adaptation Plan in Peru (CCAP), which aims to help local communities in the province of Cusco to secure their livelihoods in the long term. Many of these people live in villages 3,500 metres above sea level. In this region, rainfall is declining dramatically, which is increasingly threatening the livestock and agricultural production of local communities that are mainly subsistence farmers.
For example, the project includes traditional water reservoirs known as “qochas“ which are used to collect and store rainwater. The rainwater is used to irrigate forage crops and to water livestock. This allows farmers and herders to supply water to their livestock throughout the year despite the decline in precipitation. The project is also contributing to reducing conflicts over shrinking water resources.