December 11 is globally celebrated as the International Mountain Day (IMD). It reminds us every year the shameless actions we have been taking over the decades that ruined the nature and natural resources hosted by the mountains. The day was founded in 2002 while the world celebrated the UN International Year of Mountains. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) was designated as the coordinating agency for the preparation and animation of this celebration (IMD) and is mandated to lead observance of it at the global level. The Water and Mountains Team of the FAO Forestry Department is responsible for coordinating this international process. I don’t know about the rest of the world but the FAO in Pakistan has badly failed to coordinate in pursuing the sustainable mountain conservation and development agenda. Even worst is the case of extreme ignorance of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research that is unaware of its mandate and scope regarding the mountains and International Mountain Day. Only UNDP Pakistan and the Ministry of Climate Change take-up some initiative if they have projects otherwise the sustainable mountain development remains on the back-burner. Pakistan is one of the most vulnerable countries to the impact of climate change and disasters. Even then all the stakeholders are moving very slowly on the protection and conservation of mountains and taking suitable measures for the land and people of the highlands I wish FAO Pakistan could be as active as its headquarters in Rome (Italy) that is running quite vigorously the Mountain Partnership, a global platform for the mountain communities and the organisations working on the mountain agenda, with the support of the Italian and Swiss governments. While the Mountain Partnership is knitting the global stakeholders, the model shall be replicated in every country having mountains. The Mountain Partnership team shall develop a framework for country chapters as agreed in the global meeting in December 2017. Not much progress is seen on the resolutions passed there. The idea of global media portal on mountain issues also could not see the light. #MountainsMatter is the theme of 2018 that emphasises the significance of mountains for many logical reasons. The IMD website says: “Even though they are mentioned in the 2030 Agenda, mountains are still often forgotten. Considering the crucial role they play in providing key ecosystem goods and services to the planet and their vulnerability in the face of climate change, we need to step up and raise attention to mountains.” #MountainsMatter for Water as mountains are the world’s ‘water towers’, providing between 60 and 80 percent of all freshwater resources for our planet. However, all available records indicate that glaciers in mountain ranges around the world are retreating and disappearing due to climate change. At least 600 glaciers have disappeared completely over the past decades affecting water supplies relied on by billions living downstream. #MountainsMatters for Disaster Risk Reduction as climatic variations are triggering disasters. Avalanches, mudflows and landslides are tumbling downstream, stripping bare forests, flooding communities and populations. #MountainsMatter for Tourism as mountain destinations attract around 15-20 per cent of global tourism and are areas of important cultural diversity, knowledge and heritage. Although mountain tourism has the potential to foster economic development in remote and isolated regions, many mountain communities are still not benefiting and live in poverty. #MountainsMatter for Food as they are important centres of agricultural biodiversity and are home to many of the foods that come to our table, such as rice, potatoes, quinoa, tomatoes and barley. Yet, they are home to some of the hungriest peoples in the world with a high vulnerability to food shortages and malnutrition, and climate change is affecting mountain agriculture. #MountainsMatter for Youth as despite the beautiful landscapes, life in the mountains can be tough, particularly for rural youth. Abandoning their villages in search of employment elsewhere has led to an absence of young people and an increasing labour shortage. Migration from mountains leads to an increase in abandoned agricultural, land degradation and often forest fires. At community level, cultural values and ancient traditions are lost. #MountainsMatter for Indigenous Peoples as many mountain areas host ancient indigenous communities that possess and maintain precious knowledge, traditions and languages. Mountain peoples have developed remarkable land use systems and have a wealth of knowledge and strategies accumulated over generations on how to adapt to climate variability. #MountainsMatter for Biodiversity as half of the world’s biodiversity hotspots are concentrated in mountains and mountains support approximately one-quarter of terrestrial biological diversity. Mountains are home to rare animals such as gorillas, snow leopards and the majestic tahr as well as strikingly beautiful plants such as orchids and lobelias. While marking the International Mountain Day 2018, we need to think of creating a large social movement that can bring mountain issues on the tables of politicians. A social media campaign engaging the youth from both sides, mountain communities and those live downstream, could help in raising the miseries of the mountains and those live there. The current neglect of mountains and mountain peoples must stop. Pakistan is one of the most vulnerable countries to the impact of climate change and disasters. Even then all the stakeholders are moving very slowly on the protection and conservation of mountains and taking suitable measures for the land and people of the highlands. On the other side, the mafia and cartels are very active where some of the politicians and decision makers are part of the bad guys. The deteriorating future for the development partners and non-government sector would further add to the miseries of the mountains, its habitats and habitants. Pakistan needs to learn to trust on the organisations such as ICIMOD and Ev-K2-CNR for their professional skills and outreach. Instead of restricting them to out of our boundaries, we shall encourage them and other international and multilateral development organisations to come help us to protect and develop our mountains on the sustainable manners. The writer is an Islamabad-based policy advocacy, strategic communication and outreach expert. He can be reached at email@example.com. He tweets @EmmayeSyed Published in Daily Times, December 11th 2018.