Mountains and Climate Change

There is a dual relationship between sustainable development and climate change. On the one hand, climate change influences key natural and human living conditions hence the basis for social and economic development, while on the other hand, society’s priorities on sustainable development influences both the Green House Gas emissions that are causing climate change and the vulnerability (IPCC,2017). Mountains are among the most sensitive ecosystems to climate change globally. Warming and extreme temperatures are expected to increase and isolated habitats like mountains are specifically endangered as their potential for adaptation is very low (IPCC, 2014). Impacts of climate change are being increasingly observed in African mountains e.g. there is considerable change in Mount Elgon region due to global warming, with resident communities reporting higher temperatures and more erratic, variable and intense rainfall accompanied by changes in the onset and cessation of rainy seasons and the distribution of rains within the season (Daniel et. al., 2015). In the past years there has been tremendous effort amongst stakeholders at all levels and countries world over, to find sustainable solutions to climate change and ensure Sustainable Development. Among others such efforts include innovative approaches including Ecosystem Based Adaptation, which are being applied in mountain areas with the main purpose of strengthening community resilience to climate change impacts and ratification of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement, intended to guide decision making. African countries domesticated SDGs and the Paris Agreement through their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and country specific National Development plans and strategies. However, mountains and mountain communities are not taken much into consideration in these plans. Given the increasing impacts of climate change in mountain areas, there is a need to allocate more resources towards the conservation of mountain ecosystems and support adaptation activities of mountain communities. Recognizing the dual relationship between sustainable development and climate change points to a need for the exploration of policies, strategies and actions that jointly address sustainable development and climate change. Achieving sustainable development under a changing climate in mountains is a tremendous challenge that can only be addressed if every player is actively involved. During this second session of the ARMF, issues like the impact of climate change to mountain ecosystems and people, integration of climate change in country development agenda, Ecosystem-Based Adaptation in African mountains, and implementation of NDCs in African Mountains will be discussed.

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