Story | 13 Dec, 2019

International Mountain Day’ - Message by Mahmood Akhtar Cheema Country Representative IUCN Pakistan

December 11, 2019

Today is the ‘International Mountain Day’ that is being celebrated all over the world to highlight the significance of the mountains on earth with a theme of the year “Mountains matter for Youth”.  The theme highlights the role of youth in conserving the natural resources surrounding the mountain areas.


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Photo: ACCA-WWF Pakistan

Presently Pakistan has more young people than it has ever had, and this is forecasted to continue to increase until at least 2050. The International Mountain Day’s Theme compels to promote the environmental educate amongst the young on significance and role of mountains in our lives.

Due to less employment opportunities migration of young people from mountain areas to cities is on the rise. Migration of youth from mountain areas is resulting into abandoned agriculture, land degradation and a loss of cultural values and ancient traditions. Creation of diverse employment opportunities can reverse the situation in these areas.

In the recent past IUCN has been a partner in the Mountain and Markets project with UNDP, along with Ministry of Climate Change; Environment Department Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; Forest, Wildlife and Environment Department Gilgit-Baltistan.

Numerous trainings and exposure visits were conducted under this project for the mountain areas communities for providing them the opportunity to enhance knowledge and broaden the vision about the scope of possible products and the value of Non-Timber Forest Products from the mountains areas and especially of Mountain & Market project target areas.

IUCN has launched its project “Assessment of the State of Nature and Biodiversity Safeguarding Actions in Northern Pakistan” in collaboration with the Ministry of Climate Change, Government of Pakistan; Forest, Wildlife and Environment Department, Government of Gilgit-Baltistan. The project focuses on the conservation and management of fragile natural resources of the area.

Since its inception, IUCN Pakistan has been deeply involved in nature conservation. As the only environmental organisation with official United Nations Observer Status, IUCN ensures that nature conservation has a voice at the highest level of international governance. Over the last 30 years in Pakistan, IUCN Pakistan has been pursuing nature conservation and sustainable development in Pakistan through its members and partners. The Mountain Areas Conservancy Programme has been – a flagship programme that focused on biodiversity conservation and a significant achievement in it was the introduction of an internationally recognized mechanism for enhancing the number of Markhor species, the population of which was extremely under threat.

The Pakistan Trophy Hunting program is a flagship program which has been internationally acknowledged as a practically successful example of community based conservation of wildlife. It has resulted in a significant increase in the population of ungulates including Markhor/Ibex/blue sheep in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit Baltistan and Torghar in Balochistan which has been duly acknowledged worldwide.

Mountains are also called the “water towers” of the world. They fulfill the water needs of humans, biological diversity, and ecosystems on this earth and having such significance they need special attention and proper conservation to keep the life cycle moving on this earth.

Thank you.

Mahmood Akhtar Cheema
Country Representative
IUCN Pakistan
IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature)
1 Bath Island Road, Karachi 75530, Pakistan