Mountains, High-Latitude Areas, and the Cryosphere: Critical Components of Our Planet’s Ecological Balance

Bingkai Karya – Mountains, high-latitude areas, and the cryosphere (the Earth’s frozen parts, including glaciers, permafrost, and snow) are critical components of our planet’s ecological balance. They provide freshwater for billions of people, regulate global climate, and support unique biodiversity. However, these regions are also highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Mountains are home to a rich variety of ecosystems and cultures. They are also essential sources of water for many parts of the world. In 2010, almost 10% of the global population – around 671 million people – lived in high mountain regions. This number is expected to grow to 736–844 million by 2050.

Climate change is having a significant impact on these regions. Temperatures are rising faster in mountains than in other parts of the world, and glaciers are melting at an alarming rate. This is leading to changes in snowmelt patterns, water availability, and the distribution of plants and animals.

There are many knowledge gaps about the impacts of climate change on mountains, high-latitude areas, and the cryosphere. For example, we need to better understand how changes in snowmelt patterns will affect water resources, and how the loss of glaciers will impact ecosystems. We also need to develop more effective adaptation strategies to help communities cope with the changes that are already happening.

The Nairobi Work Programme (NWP) is a network of over 450 organizations working to close knowledge gaps and scale up climate adaptation action in countries. The NWP is focusing on mountains, high-latitude areas, and the cryosphere as a priority area in 2024.

The NWP will work to:

  • Share evidence-based knowledge about successful adaptation cases in mountainous regions.
  • Develop context-specific knowledge solutions for mountain regions.
  • Co-design solutions to tackle knowledge barriers and strengthen policy frameworks.
  • Create an enabling environment for adaptation efforts in these regions.

Mountains, high-latitude areas, and the cryosphere are essential for the health of our planet. We need to take action to protect these regions from the impacts of climate change. The Nairobi Work Programme is playing an important role in this effort by closing knowledge gaps and supporting adaptation action.

We all have a role to play in protecting mountains, high-latitude areas, and the cryosphere. We can learn more about these regions, support organizations working to protect them, and advocate for policies that reduce climate change.

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