2002 International Year of the Mountains 

Mountain Culture director to speak at United Nations

The United Nations launched International Year of the Mountains on Dec. 11 in New York, where Bernadette McDonald, director and vice-president, Mountain Culture at The Banff Centre, spoke to the General Assembly.

McDonald gave a presentation on events planned by Mountain Culture at the Banff Centre in 2002 to mark International Year of the Mountains. Other speakers addressing the special gathering of the General Assembly included Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization Jacques Diouf, UN Secretary-General of the World Summit on Sustainable Development Nitin Desai, His Highness The Aga Khan and mountaineer, author and parliamentarian Reinhold Messner.

The United Nations has declared 2002 International Year of the Mountains. The aim of IYM is to ensure the well-being of mountain and lowland communities by promoting the conservation and sustainable development of mountain regions.

International Year of the Mountains grew out of the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, where Agenda 21, a global blueprint for sustainable development into the 21 st century, was proposed. Agenda 21 placed "managing fragile ecosystems: sustainable mountain development" on an equal footing with climate change, tropical deforestation and desertification as a key issue in the global debate on environment and development.

Mountain Culture at the Banff Centre was created in 1995 to promote understanding and appreciation of mountain places. To this end, Mountain Culture at the Banff Centre will host Banff Mountain Summit 2002—Extreme Landscape: Challenge and Celebration in October, 2002. The Banff Centre will also host a conference on Ecological and Earth Sciences in Mountain Areas in September, 2002.

The Summit will explore how extreme landscapes shape people's lives and how people impact extreme landscapes. The event will include presentations, exhibits and performances by mountain authors, scientists, dancers, musicians, anthropologists and filmmakers. Speakers will include Reinhold Messner, award-winning author Gretel Ehrlich, author and ethnobotanist Wade Davis, specialist on sacred mountains Edwin Bernbaum, cultural photographer Chris Rainier, Canadian poet and singer Sid Marty, climber and founder of Patagonia Yvon Chouinard, adventurer Will Gadd, leading authority on international peace parks Jim Thorsell and conservationist George Schaller.

As a legacy of the event, National Geographic Books will publish Extreme Landscape: The Lure of Mountain Spaces, featuring writers involved with the Summit. The book will be launched at the Summit in October 2002.

The Ecological and Earth Sciences in Mountain Areas conference will focus on the latest research on physical and ecological mountain issues. The conference is sponsored by Environment Canada's Canadian Wildlife Service and the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.

Tickets for the Banff Mountain Summit 2002 and registration for the EESMA conference are available at www.banffmountainfestivals.ca

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