ICIMOD Participates in International Mountain Day 2016 Celebrations in Pakistan

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The Chief Minister and Provincial Minister presiding over the event

On 11 December, a special programme was held at the Gilgit Serena Hotel, Pakistan, to mark International Mountain Day 2016. The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) participated in the celebration alongside the Government of Gilgit-Baltistan, the World Wildlife Fund, the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) and the Aga Khan Health Services Pakistan (AKHSP). Hashwani Group of Traders, Mountain and Market: Biodiversity and Business in Northern Pakistan, Wildlife Conservation Society, and Mountain Media Group also participated.

Hafiz Hafeez-ur-Rehman, Chief Minister, Gilgit-Baltistan, and Muhammad Iqbal, Minister Public Works Department, Government of Gilgit Baltistan, were chief guests of the event. Around 300 officials from the Pakistani government, and representatives from non-governmental organizations, educational institutions and local communities were present at the event. The celebratory activities included presentations, documentaries, exhibitions and a tableau arranged by organizing partners. 

Participants of the International Mountain Day celebration
Experts from the Gilgit Baltistan Environmental Protection Agency (GB-EPA), WWF and AKRSP highlighted the high value functions and services mountain ecosystems provide to support human life. ICIMOD Pakistan staff shared Director General David Molden’s message with all present on his behalf, and extended gratitude to all participants and organizing partners who had worked to successfully organize the event.

During the panel discussion, several speakers noted that mountains are a refuge for diverse organisms, and key to conservation in a changing world. Panellists added that natural mountain landscapes are disappearing as a result of rapid socio-economic change endangering native flora and fauna. Possible adaptation choices to promote mountain biodiversity and its genetic resources for future generations were also discussed.

School students performing a cultural dance

Mountain ecosystems are spectacular also because of human culture. To highlight the cultural uniqueness of the Gilgit Baltistan region, students from Shining Light Academy, Gilgit, performed a cultural dance to a folk song. The Mountain Day celebration event also paid tribute to Hassan Sadpara, the late Pakistani mountaineer, by acknowledging his heroic contributions to promoting mountain cultures. The event concluded with a vote of thanks by Muhammad Ejaz, acting GM of the Gilgit Serena Hotel.