KATHMANDU, Dec. 11 (Xinhua) -- The International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), based in Nepali capital Kathmandu, released a special message to mark the "International Mountain Day-2009" on Friday.
ICIMOD is a regional knowledge development and learning center serving the regional member countries of the Hindu Kush-Himalayas (HKH) that comprises eight countries, Nepal, India, China, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Pakistan. Its headquarters is based in Kathmandu.
The theme of this year's International Mountain Day is "Disaster Risk Management in Mountain."
"The theme aims to raise awareness of the increasing number of natural hazards in mountain areas and the increasing vulnerability of mountain communities to disasters," ICIMOD Director General Dr.Andreas Schild said in his special message on Friday.
"It draws the attention of policy makers to the need to adopt climate change adaptation strategies that reduce the risks of disasters in mountain areas," Schild added.
In view of the increasing number of disasters in HKH region, for example, the Kashmir earthquake in 2007, China's earthquake in 2008, Nepal Koshi floods in 2008, and Aila cyclone in 2009, the theme appears well chosen, the message said.
Every Dec. 11 is observed to mark the International Mountain Day worldwide.
"International Mountain Day provides an opportunity to join with our friends and colleagues from the HKH region and the rest of the world in creating awareness about the importance of mountains for sustenance, to highlight the opportunities and constraints in mountain development, and to build partnerships that will help bring positive change in the world's mountains and highlands," the message said.
Many mountain communities in the HKH region live under the threat of earthquakes, avalanches, landslides and floods. The regional member countries of ICIMOD are among the most vulnerable countries in the world to natural hazards, particularly those induced by weather and climate, and these often lead to disasters impeding socioeconomic development and poverty reduction.
Annually, more than 2,000 lives on average are lost in the region as a result of various types of natural hazards. Mountain people are among those hardest hit by global warming, economic globalization, and migration, Schild mentioned in his message.
According to him, these phenomena are particularly visible in the HKH where glaciers are melting at unprecedented rates, habitats and ecosystem services are being eroded.
Globalization and climate change will have an increasing influence on the stability of our fragile mountain ecosystems and the livelihoods of mountain people.
As a regional knowledge development and learning center serving the eight countries of the HKH, ICIMOD aims to assist mountain people in implementing improved disaster risk reduction at national and regional levels addressing upstream-downstream linkages for saving lives and livelihoods, he said. ¡¡
Special report: Global Climate Change