The United Nations has declared 2002 the International Year of Mountains (IYM) to bring attention to a number of threats that affect ecosystems and human populations in mountainous and highland regions around the world.

“More than half of humanity—3 billion people—relies on mountains for safe, fresh water, water to grow food, to produce electricity to sustain industries and, most important, water to drink,“ said Jacques Diouf, director-general of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, the primary IYM sponsor. “Yet, mountain glaciers, the source of water for many of the world's river systems and people, are melting at unprecedented rates.”