Cultures around the globe have long looked to the mountains for inspiration. Mountain regions provide the basis for human livelihood and ecosystem services, making up twenty percent of the earth, thirteen percent of human communities, up to eighty percent of water consumed by humans, and twenty-five percent of biodiversity. Yet these pinnacles of vision and sources of life are in danger, with glaciers melting, over thirty percent of mountain people suffering from food insecurity, and clean water at risk. In this era of climate disruption, it is time to look again to the world’s mountain communities as beacons of a more resilient story, stretching from the planet’s headwaters to all communities downstream.
The Aspen International Mountain Foundation, Telluride Institute, and Western State Colorado University’s (Western) School of Environment & Sustainability have formed a triad of Colorado-based organizations called the Mountain Resilience Coalition. The Mountain Resilience Coalition partners with the vulnerable yet visionary places that form the United Nations (UN) Mountain Partnership’s North and Central American and Caribbean region. We seek to give voice to all communities in the region and to model positive change at the table of UN events dedicated to mountain community health. This intersection of nonprofit and university commitments offers communication networks, expert research, and get-it-done project collaboration across cultures.