International Mountain Day 2022: History, Significance and Theme

International Mountain Day is annually celebrated on 11th December. This day raises awareness about the importance of mountains for our lives and the world overall. 

Mountains are some of the most interesting geological features that our world has to offer. Clear proof of the massive changes that happen beneath the surface of our planet, mountains have also served as playgrounds and places of worship for countless generations of humans.

The consequences of modernisation such as climate change and overexploitation are putting mountains under threat. Hence, conservation of mountains is a crucial factor. Hence this day demands urgent actions for the conservation of our mountains for a better future of our world. 

Event International Mountain Day
Date December 11, 2022
Day Sunday
Significance The day raises awareness about the importance of mountains
Observed by World wide

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International Mountain Day History: 

The origin of mountains (orogenesis) occurs after tectonic movements make rock layers fold and overlap. All the Earth’s surface, the lithosphere, is divided into rigid areas called continental plates and oceanic plates. These lithospheric plates continuously move and whenever they bump into each other, they form mountain chains. Like the Andes Cordillera started to form 250 – 200 million years ago after the crash between an oceanic plate (Nazca plate) and a continental plate (South-American plate). And the mighty Himalayan chain formed after the crash between the Indian plate and the Euro-Asian plate that 30 million years ago were still separated by an ocean called Thetis.  

People have used or lived in the mountains for thousands of years, first as hunter-gatherers and later as farmers and pastoralists. Today about 720 million people, or 12% of the world’s population, live in mountain regions, many of them economically and politically marginalized. The mountain residents have adapted to the conditions, but in the developing world they often suffer from food insecurity and poor health. They depend on crops, livestock and forest products, and tend to be poor. In the developed world the mountain people are generally prosperous, and the mountains may be used for tourism and outdoor recreation.  

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Mountains have always been fascinating for the human beings and they recognized its importance ever since the first human civilizations began. That’s why mountains had a huge cultural importance for these people which they shown by worshipping the mountains. Today, also there are many cultures especially tribal cultures around the world who worships mountains for all the resources which it provides. However because of the ever-growing human activities on mountains like deforestation for settlement, mining for resources, poaching, over-grazing by farm animals, pollution and over-exploitation of mountains by humans over the years have posed a significant threat to the mountains across the world. 

In 1992, a document, “Managing Fragile Ecosystems: Sustainable Mountain Development” (called Chapter 13), was adopted as part of the action plan Agenda 21 of the Conference on Environment and Development. The increasing attention to the importance of mountains led the UN to declare 2002 the UN International Year of Mountains. As a result the first International Mountain Day was celebrated for the first time the following year, 2003. It was designated by the United Nations General Assembly which “encouraged the international community to organize events at all levels on that day to highlight the importance of sustainable mountain development.” 

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International Mountain Day Significance: 

Mountains are home to about 15% of the world’s population and host about half of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. They provide freshwater for everyday life to half of humanity. Their conservation is a key factor for sustainable development and is part of Goal 15 of the SDGs set by the UN.  Unfortunately, mountains are under threat from climate change and overexploitation. As the global climate continues to warm, mountain people which are some of the world’s 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. 

Mountains are the world’s “water towers,” providing 60-80% of all freshwater resources for our planet. At least half of the world’s population depends on mountain ecosystem services to survive – not only water but also food and clean energy. However,  all available records indicate that glaciers in mountain ranges around the world are retreating and disappearing due to climate change. At least 600 glaciers have disappeared completely over the past decades, affecting water supplies relied on by billions living downstream. For example, in Pakistan, water originating from the Hindu Kush Himalayas provides 80% of irrigation for the Indus Basin, where food is grown for 180 million people.

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On the other hand, mountains attract around 20% of global tourism, host nearly one-quarter of all terrestrial biodiversity, and are home to many of the foods that come to our tables, such as rice, potatoes, tomatoes, and barley. Yet, they are home to some of the poorest and hungriest people in the world. Hence this day is also used as a way to raise awareness about the condition of mountain communities of our world and thus it awares people to demand their governments to take care of the hilly people as well and help in the growth and development of these communities for a better future of our world. 

Climate change is triggering disasters relating to mountains such as avalanches, mud, and rock slides are tumbling downstream, stripping bare forests, flooding communities and populations. And these disasters cause greater damage to the humanity and its not just mountain communities that are being affected but the whole population. That’s why time is running out, and we must act together: public opinion must put pressure on governments to take action now, to protect our mountains and protect our future. So it is very important to protect our mountains now for maintaining the ecological balance of our world otherwise consequences will be devastating for humanity.  

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International Mountain Day Theme: 

The theme of International Mountain Day 2022 is “Women move mountains”. It is an opportunity to promote gender equality and therefore contribute to improving social justice, livelihoods and resilience.  

Women play a key role in mountains’ environmental protection and social and economic development. They are often the primary managers of mountain resources, guardians of biodiversity, keepers of traditional knowledge, custodians of local culture, and experts in traditional medicine. 

Celebrate this International Day 2022 with your community and friends preparing an event or joining the conversation on social media using the hashtag #MountainsMatter. Pass on some of the key messages, or share about the important role of women in mountains, or post, or a photo of your favorite mountain. 

Most Searched FAQs on International Mountain Day: 

1. When is International Mountain Day celebrated? 

International Mountain Day is annually celebrated on 11th December. 

2. Why do we celebrate International Mountain Day? 

International Mountain Day is celebrated to create awareness about the importance of mountains to life, to highlight the opportunities and constraints in mountain development, and to build alliances that will bring positive change to mountain peoples and environments around the world. 

3. What is the theme of International Mountain Day 2022? 

The theme of International Mountain Day 2022 is “Women move mountains.” 

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