X European Mountain Convention
Mountains’ vulnerability to climate change: how can people and territories adapt and mitigate its effects?
3 to 5 October, 2016
Teatro Municipal de Bragança, Bragança, Portugal
Mountain areas have difficult climatic and environmental conditions, but mountain people are used to adapting to these. Thanks to their great experience of innovation and adaptation, they have already started to tackle the challenge of climate change. This X European Mountain Convention will present a state-of-the-art of the situation in mountain areas and of how experience and technical knowledge have been used to provide solutions to adapt to and mitigate climate change. The focus will be on solutions not only at the policy level, but also at the practitioners’ level, on different issues such as agriculture, energy, water, transport and tourism.
Context of the X European Mountain Convention
- Mountains are particularly vulnerable to climate change. Critically, the intensification of the hydrological cycle, the retreat of glaciers and permafrost, losses of biodiversity, and the predicted increase in the scale and frequency of extreme events may lead to significant increases in soil erosion, floods, avalanches and landslides, with considerable effects on mountain areas. These changes are expected to have various impacts not only on mountain environments, economies and societies, but also on adjacent areas and even far downstream. Even significant actions cannot prevent but only mitigate the impacts of climate change. Adaptation to the inevitable impacts is, therefore, vital. This is particularly true for Europe’s highly sensitive and vulnerable mountain areas.
- At the Paris climate conference (COP21) in December 2015, 195 countries adopted a universal global climate agreement. This sets out a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°C. The agreement is due to enter into force in 2020. Countries submitted comprehensive national climate action plans. Governments also agreed to come together every five years to set more ambitious targets as required by science, and they agreed to strengthen societies’ ability to deal with the impacts of climate change.
- The European Union is playing a leading role on fighting climate change. It has defined key targets for the coming years. In October 2014, in its 2030 climate and energy framework, the EU targets for 2030 were revised: at least 40% cuts in greenhouse gas emissions (from 1990 levels), at least 27% share for renewable energy, and at least 27% improvement in energy efficiency. To reach these targets, the EU is promoting adaptation and mitigation measures through EU funding schemes (e.g. Horizon 2020, Life) and climate change is a compulsory topic in the European Structural and Investment Funds, implemented at regional level.
- The reality of climate change is recognized by stakeholders and policy makers and demands for advice and action are growing. EU strategy has to do, on the one hand, with mitigation – the achievement of a global low carbon economy – and, on the other hand, and because the changes are already happening, with adaptation. Society has to adapt to the impacts of climate change, and local communities need to be able to understand how to manage risks to their resources under possible scenarios of change.
Several policies exist at national level, and sometimes at massif level (e.g., through the Alpine Convention), to take specific measures to address climate change in mountain areas. But political agreements are not always implemented and concrete support for projects to mitigate climate change is often limited.
- Mountains provide many ecosystem services that are endangered by climate change. Following the X EMC, the 1st International Conference on Research for Sustainable Development in Mountain Regions (ICRSDME) organised in Bragança from 6 to 7 October 2016 by the Mountain Research Centre of the Polytechnic Institute of Bragança (CIMO/IPB), the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) and the UNESCO Chair in Sustainable Mountain Development at the University of Highlands and Islands, UK, will consider tools, methods and results of scientific research on ecosystem services in mountain areas.