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International Mountain Day 11th December 2016
International Mountain Day 2016 provides an occasion to highlight the variety and richness of mountain cultures, promote the vast array of mountain identities and ensure that indigenous rights are recognized and traditional ways endure.
The United Nations General Assembly designated 11 December “International Mountain Day”. As of 2003, it has been observed every year 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.
“Mountain Cultures: celebrating diversity and strengthening identity” is the theme chosen for this year’s celebration of International Mountain Day.
The concept of traditional heritage, culture and spirituality is intrinsically linked with peoples’ livelihoods in the mountains, where it is often traditional lifestyles that determine the way people make a living and subsist. Many mountain areas host ancient indigenous communities that possess and maintain precious knowledge, traditions and languages.
Mountains have a spiritual meaning for most religions: Mount Olympus, Mount Sinai, Machu Picchu, Mount Athos, the four Holy Buddhist Mountains, just to name a few. Mountain peoples have developed remarkable land use systems, which are rich in globally significant biodiversity and have evolved over centuries thanks to the harmonious co-existence of communities with the environment.
For mountain peoples, land, water and forests are not simply natural resources. Following in the footsteps of their ancestors, new generations understand that their well-being, their sense of identity and their children’s future depend on careful stewardship of the environment. Their traditional knowledge and techniques are key to managing and enhancing the resilience of fragile mountain ecosystems.
Mountains are also places of tourism and cultural trails. From skiing to climbing to visiting the rock churches in Ethiopia, mountains offer all types of possibilities to all kinds of tourists. If sustainably managed, mountain tourism can have a role in promoting and protecting traditional cultures as well as creating incentives for the protection of mountain ecosystems, their goods and services.