Mountain regions could be considered as the ecological backbone of the world. This gives an idea of their immense significance worldwide and why it is of such great importance that they are reevaluated in the important roles that they play regarding the global fresh water cycle.
“Mountains are the only environments that occur in all climatic zones of the earth – tropical, subtropical, temperate and Arctic.” Download: Mountains of the World – Sustainable Development in Mountain areas, Mountain Agenda, 2002.PDF
A global initiative to conserve freshwater and the ecosystems, which maintain the global water cycle, is desperately needed at this time. Humanity is standing at a crossroads; freshwater related problems and disasters are increasing. The present trend of unsustainable resource use and environmental degradation means that these disasters will become more and more devastating.
There are situations occurring on the other side of the world that one could quite rationally ignore, however the breakdown of the global water cycle is not one of these.
“Healthy mountain ecosystems are the foundation of healthy people, both in the mountains above and in the plains below. To save civilization, there is no greater urgency today than to regenerate and conserve our mountains. Their role in regulating our climate and water systems is fundamental to the sustenance of our life on this planet” (Dr Ashok Khosla, 2011, World Mountain Conference’, Lucerne)
Freshwater is an absolute necessity for everybody; we cannot allow the cycle that carries it around the Earth to be broken. The global community needs to prioritise stabilising and maintaining the global water cycle.
The task to safeguard the global water cycle is not beyond possibility if concerted action is taken towards restoring and maintaining the natural ecosystems, which maintain and regulate it. Mountain ecosystems are of paramount importance in this.
“Many ecosystems that are crucial for the water supply lack constituencies. As a result, they are often degraded by human activity. The link between the conservation of ecosystems and water needs to be better recognised Download: Report of the WSSD,UN, 2002.pdf
These mountain ecosystems play a major part in the replenishing of mountain snows and glaciers. Without them these will melt and possibly vanish worldwide within 30-50 years. Without these snows, life on Earth will become unbearably hot and the water cycle will cease to function effectively.
The more of us who work together collectively with a common purpose focused on the restoration of mountain ecosystems and the eradication of poverty for mountain communities, the more chance there is of success. This is in the interest of all peoples as it concerns the security of the global hydrological cycle and fresh water security worldwide.