International petition seeks attention for mountain countries

The petition, which will be tabled at COP21, is urging Bhutan to join the call for attention

COP 21: In a move to seek adequate attention to the impact of climate change on mountain regions and human communities that depend on them, the Mountain Partnership Secretariat based in Rome, Italy, which began an international online petition is now urging Bhutanese to sign it.

The petition acknowledges the global importance of mountain areas as providers of water, hosts of cultural and biological diversity and sources of products essential to humankind as a whole; and as places of great spiritual, recreational, touristic and historic relevance.

ASPEN International Mountain Foundation (AIMF), an NGO based in the US brought the petition (http://www.mountainpartnership.org/news/news-detail/en/c/329163/) to Bhutan through Bhutan Trust Fund.

AIMF’s president Karinjo Devore said the secretariat’s steering committee is making sure that the petition is widely circulated and signed.  Since Bhutan is arguably the most mountainous country in the world, signatures from Bhutan are important, she said.

Although, the petition has reached its minimum requirement of 5,000 signatures to be able to table at the upcoming Conference of Parties (COP21) climate summit in Paris, more signatures are awaited until November 29.

“This is important because it is very specifically geared to getting attention to mountains as it doesn’t normally get during such summits,” Karinjo Devore said. “To have our environment protected, we encourage as many people as possible to sign it.”

Karinjo Devore said while she was in the country to attend the GNH conference, she received directives from the Mountain Partnership Secretariat that Bhutan being a member of the secretariat had not signed the petition. The secretariat has 55 member mountain countries.

The petition, Karinjo said would boost the three areas of Sustainable Development Goals that specifically mentions mountains as being critical to the world.

Mountain countries need funding and directives from large countries in terms of conserving water, addressing women issues, agriculture farming, soil and protection of bio-diversity among others.

According to the petition, Mountain Partnership Secretariat recognizes that mountain communities have developed traditional techniques and knowledge that could be highly valuable in climate change adaptation and for resilience building. It also recognizes the key role played by mountain women as custodians of traditions and promoters of innovations and development.

Signatories to the petition encourage better climate change adaptation measures, investments and policies to avoid further damage to humans and wildlife in addition to the mountainous environments.

Nirmala Pokhrel

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