Why Mountains Matter

by Karinjo DeVore

In recognition of International Mountain Day celebrated on December 11th each year, I wanted to share with you the short video created by the Mountain Partnership to highlight Why Mountains Matter  and the sustainable development issues surrounding them. To view go to:



In 2003, the United Nations General Assembly established December 11th as International Mountain Day to raise awareness about sustainable mountain development and the importance of mountains for  life. The General Assembly "encouraged the international community to organize events at all levels on that day to highlight the importance of sustainable mountain development."  

From many global perspectives, the video points out that mountains really do matter highlighting such key issues as natural resources (e.g. water), land use, biodiversity, livelihoods, communities, and culture to name just a few.

As for my part (in the video), I chose to highlight water as one of the key issues in mountain sustainable development. Did you know that approximately 60% of the world’s fresh water originates in mountains? Living in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, we are acutely aware of the value of our water resources. The flows originate in our mountain peaks, referred to as “water towers”, continue through the American West supplying valuable water for a myriad of uses throughout Colorado, Utah, Arizona and California,  and eventually (maybe, just maybe) reach the Pacific coasts of California and Mexico.

Sustainable mountain development in this regard means being a good steward of this vital resource from origin to destination and everywhere in between. This not only underscores the importance of the resource itself but also the connectivity between highlands and lowlands.

The theme for International Mountain Day 2014 is Family Farming. Water is of course critical for not only family farms but larger agricultural projects. It is perhaps our most precious commodity!

Continuing in that theme, 2015 will focus on Soils-foundation for mountain family farming. We don’t always recognise that soil is a living ecosystem, vital in sustaining plants, animals and humans. Depletion of our soils is a serious issue.

CALL TO ACTION: Can you share what your community is doing to celebrate mountains, how you are promoting family farming and healthy soils, protecting our water resources, or simply why you love mountains?

By Karinjo Devore