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Summer is here, and with that, our MRI leaders are actively presenting and participating in a series of mountain events, workshops, and congresses online and around the globe. Their participation is a testament to the broad and active engagement of the MRI. Below is a roundup of the latest updates from some of our Co-Principal Investigators (Co-PI) and Science Leadership Council (SLC) members.

Fifty years after the landmark 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment—the first ever UN conference on the environment — Stockholm was once again the gathering point to take stock of the state of the human environment and collectively brainstorm on how to move forward. Below is a brief analysis of Stockholm+50: A Healthy Planet for the Prosperity of All – Our Responsibility, Our Opportunity, held 2-3 June 2022.

The GEO Mountains General Meeting (May 2022) provided an opportunity to bring members of the Initiative together, share recent progress, and discuss plans for the 2023-2025 GEO Work Programme period.

Under the theme 'Global Action for Local Impact,' the GEO Virtual Symposium 2022 explored how the portfolio of Group on Earth Observations (GEO) products and services can provide insights and evidence for policy development and decision making.

Dr. James Thornton contributed views from GEO Mountains regarding our current and possible future integration with the Group on Earth Observations System of Systems (GEOSS), including the functionality that the GEOSS Portal would have to possess to be most useful to our community.

As authors of the recent IPCC Working Group II report Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability,  MRI Executive Director Carolina Adler and MRI Principal Investigator Christian Huggel were among the researchers invited to the Swiss Parliament for an exchange with politicians on the challenges of the climate and biodiversity crisis. 

At the beginning of May, at the invitation of Swiss National Council President Irène Kälin and Swiss Council of States President Thomas Hefti, scientists working in Switzerland and authors of the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) reports met with the Swiss Parliament for an exchange on the latest science.

From Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania to the highlands of Armenia, the climate crisis is being increasingly felt in vulnerable mountain environments. Amplified warming at higher elevations, changing precipitation patterns and intensified natural hazards are adding substantially to development challenges.   

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability confirms that climate change poses increasing challenges to the goods and services mountains offer, including their ability to store and purify fresh water, support crops and host visitors.

To mark the official launch of the International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has published two new booklets, titled Mountains ADAPT. They feature 27 concrete solutions in mountainous areas to adapt to the climate crisis – 18 in East Africa and nine in the South Caucasus. The material was produced under the Adaptation at Altitude programme, which is financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and implemented by UNEP and partners – the Mountain Research Initiative among them.

According to two recent studies carried out as part of the Vanishing Glaciers Project, the ecosystems of glacier-fed streams are undergoing profound change around the world. That could have major repercussions on the food chain and the natural carbon cycle.

The ecosystems of glacier-fed streams have survived nutrient-poor and harsh environmental conditions over the course of thousands of years, yet they are now being transformed by climate change at unprecedented pace. That’s the conclusion of two studies published by scientists at EPFL’s River Ecosystems Laboratory (RIVER), which is part of EPFL’s School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering (ENAC).

Taking place on 28 April 2022, the launch event of the International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development aimed to raise awareness of the importance of mountains for sustainable development. MRI Executive Director Carolina Adler was among the speakers, presenting the main results of the recent IPCC report on impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability, and on ways to use this knowledge towards climate resilient development in mountains.

Mountains are home to 15 percent of the world’s population and host about half of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. They provide freshwater for everyday life to half of humanity. Their conservation is a key factor for sustainable development. Unfortunately, mountains are under threat from climate change and overexploitation, while mountain communities face increasing poverty. To address these threats, the UN General Assembly (UNGA), in December 2021, passed a resolution declaring the year 2022 as the International Year of Sustainable Mountain Development, 2022. The Government of the Kyrgyz Republic proposed the resolution, which was sponsored by 94 governments.

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