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Regional News

#FridayFact: Winter is coming – or not?

Hikes across crisp, untouched snow; skiing through silent winter forests; or relaxing in a mountain hut, with a fire roaring and a blizzard outside, are all things that you would expect to find in the European Alps in winter.

However, climate change has been warming the European Alps - accelerating the amount of snowmelt and glacial retreat. Over the last four decades snow cover extent in Europe has decreased 13 % on average for March and April[1].

The decrease in snow in Northern Europe is just one of the worrying impacts of climate change highlighted by the sixth Global Environment Outlook report for the pan-European region. If this interests you and to read on the impacts for your part of Europe, find out more on p.56.

This Sunday marks International Mountain Day and this year people will be making an effort to change their lifestyles to combat climate change - a task that will ultimately protect Europe’s snow-covered mountains.

Share our #FridayFact to any winter enthusiast to spread the word about acting on climate change and let’s keep polluting snow canons off the pistes as much as possible.

Boost your knowledge on topical environmental issues and how they affect our daily lives!

Every week, UN Environment in Europe brings you a #FridayFact from the sixth Global Environment Outlook report for the pan-European region.

Follow us on twitter and discover our weekly fact every Friday - @UNEPinEurope.


Media invitation: Why is the protection of mountain biodiversity also crucial for human well-being?


At the 13th Conference of the Parties - Convention on Biological Diversity, Cancún, Mexico

The Slovak Presidency of the EU Council, together with the Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention, UN Environment and the Convention on Biological Diversity, is organizing a debate on mountain biodiversity – and  the need to  better include its protection in all relevant economic sectors to ensure sustainability in these vulnerable regions.The session will draw on best practices and solutions that have led to species conservation and increased human well-being in the Carpathians, as well as other mountain regions such as the Alps and Hindu-Kush Himalayas. It will furthermore provide guidance towards implementation of the Cancún declaration.

The side event aims to recall the importance of protecting and conserving biodiversity in mountain areas, where ecosystem services play a vital role in the well-being of mountain communities but also those in downstream low-land areas, through regulating the climate, providing raw materials maintaining habitats and providing water for electricity and agriculture. For this reason, biodiversity conservation and protection must be a key criteria while developing policies in economic sectors that are key to sustainable development in mountain regions, such as transport , tourism strategies and agriculture.

"Biodiversity is crucial for both the species we have in our mountains but also for the well-being of our communities. Therefore, we have to pay attention to biodiversity in every key economic sector. We are glad that more and more sectors such as tourism, forestry, transport and agriculture understand that their economic activities depend on biodiversity and therefore they do not jeopardise their business in the future. We hope that the Carpathian knowledge platform, which collects many good practices, will provide inspiration for other mountain regions and ecosystems as well", says Rastislav Rybanic Director-General of the Slovak Ministry of the Environment on behalf of the current EU presidency.

During the side event, success stories from the Carpathian region will be presented where the mainstreaming of biodiversity into key economic sectors has provided benefits to both humans and nature. The platform, supported  by UN Environment, is intended to be an inspiration for other mountain regions, providing guidance to policy makers towards implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals that also contain strong targets related to mountain biodiversity.

The ‘Alpine Carpathian Corridor’ project (a EU-funded flagship project) is an example of a successful initiative that boosted conservation of wild populations by ensuring ecological connectivity between the Alps and the Carpathians. Fragmented by roads and infrastructure, the dynamic migratory area between Vienna and Bratislava,– which supports the movement of lynx, bear and deer - was under threat. Stakeholders from Austria and Slovakia, including the national highway companies, saw this as a major concern and have since supported  technical solutions such as green bridges (serving as wildlife corridors) and spatial planning, among other initiatives.

In addition, by having signed the Protocol on Sustainable Transport, all Parties to the Carpathian Convention have committed themselves to avoid habitat breakup in all transport and infrastructure plans. Many car accidents on roads and highways in mountain regions are caused by wildlife accidents.

Such best practices are currently gathered by the Carpathian Convention Secretariat and UN Environment in a new online knowledge sharing platform, which will guide policy-makers for future planning in mountainous zones. It is hoped the concrete tool will allow great solutions and examples to 'travel' to other mountain regions, inspiring them for similar activities and initiatives.

When? 9 December 2016, 18:15-19:45

Where? Like-minded mega diverse regional group meeting room, CBD COP , Cancún, Mexico.


Head of Communications, Europe Office, UN Environment,, +41 79 251 82 36.

Organizer of the event on the ground:

#FridayFact: Peregrine Falcon numbers have bounced back – let’s help other species do the same!

Peregrine Falcons, or Falco peregrinus, are known as ‘the fastest birds on Earth,’ with record stoop speeds of 322 km/h. Their hooked claws and swiftness make them fierce hunters, able to catch prey six times their body weight[i].

In the 1960s and 70s, pesticide contamination led to eggshell breakages and adult and embryo deaths, resulting in a severe decline in the number of Peregrine Falcons.

Yet changes in agriculture policies, policies to reintroduce the falcons and improved protection have helped the falcon soar again. Their European population is now estimated at 14,900-28,800 pairs, which equates to 29,700- 57,600 mature individuals[ii].

The Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) also represents a conservation success story as in 2014, Europe’s once rarest mammal species was moved by IUCN from “critically endangered” to “endangered”, as the population showed signs of recovery.

Let’s hope that these examples can spur others in our region.

Countries between 2nd and 17th December are meeting at the Convention on Biological Diversity’s 13th Conference of the Parties in Cancún, Mexico to fight biodiversity decline, which is continuing in the pan-European region and worldwide.

Over three quarters of people in an EU-28 survey very much agree that it is important to halt species loss, seeing it as a moral obligation.

If this interests you, find out more on p.78, 86, 226 and in chapter 2.4 of the sixth Global Environment Outlook report for the pan-European region.

Boost your knowledge on topical environmental issues and how they affect our daily lives!

Every week, UN Environment in Europe brings you a #FridayFact from the sixth Global Environment Outlook report for the pan-European region.

Follow us on twitter and discover our weekly fact every Friday - @UNEPinEurope.

[ii] Birdlife International, 2015

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