Building resilient mountains through collaboration and partnership

‘’The mountains are calling, and I must go’’ said John Muir, the famous mountaineer, author, and environmentalist. According to UNEP, mountains are home to 25 out of 34 of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, diversity of species, that is not all, mountains are a source of drinking water and for food production and medicines. It is also home to 15% of World’s population says FAO. India is home to some of the most exquisite mountain ranges whose fragile ecosystems are impacted by the pace and magnitude of climate change. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development calls for a focus on sustainable management of natural resources and conservation of oceans, seas, forests, and mountains.

Addressing plastic pollution through a collaborative approach

Packaging is one of the key contributors of plastic waste in mountains which subsequently leads to waste in landfills, rivers, oceans, and waterways. This creates a significant load on the waste management systems, resulting in waste ending up in landfills. Hence, there is a need to adopt a comprehensive action plan and a holistic approach towards building clean and green hill cities. The focus needs to be on shaping a waste-free future creating awareness and driving responsible behaviour.

Facilitating end-to-end waste management

Better waste management systems can address the issue of plastic waste impacting the mountain ecosystems. The only way forward to address plastic waste is to collaborate and use expertise of corporations, local authorities, NGOs, municipal councils, citizens and waste collectors. Steps should be taken to develop a holistic plan with a focus on plastic waste and to develop town cleanliness operations like streamlining the segregated collection, transportation, storage and end-of-life disposal of waste. Adoption of digital technology, such as digital waste monitoring systems will bring efficiency in recycling waste.

Shaping positive behaviour

The need for a comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach to building resilient mountains with the effective participation and empowerment of mountain people is critical to bring about any change. Shaping behaviour both among locals and tourists is crucial to addressing the plastic waste menace. Habits go a long way when it comes to preserving our environment. The aim is to spread the message of no littering and responsible waste disposal practices among the residents and tourists.

Empowering waste professionals

The focus should also be on building a conducive environment for waste collectors as they have an important role in waste management economy. Upskilling and enabling them to work in the difficult terrain through safety modules and training them in financial literacy and digital literacy modules to improve their standard of living is the need of the hour.

Brands can contribute significantly to sustainability

Consumers are increasingly preferring brands that are committed to doing good for community, society and the planet. Brands must act as responsible environment steward. The focus should be on the ‘implementation’ and ‘execution’ of eco-friendly practices, adopting alternatives for cleaner and greener mountains. A comprehensive approach is needed to continuously reduce the waste and emissions that degrade the environment. The need is to develop inclusive, and sustainable models to streamline the waste supply chain in addition to focussing on recyclable and re-usable packaging towards a plastic-neutral future.

Let this International Mountain Day be a reminder of the importance of a collaborative, comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach will be critical to bring about an immediate change. There is immense work that still needs to be done to achieve the vision of a sustainable mountain ecosystem through a multistakeholder approach and by creating a governance model.



Views expressed above are the author’s own.