Nepalese trail and sky runner, Mira Rai, has been appointed a Mountain Partnership Goodwill Ambassador. The appointment came as people across the world celebrated International Mountain Day at the weekend.
Mountain Partnership is a United Nations voluntary alliance dedicated to improving the lives of mountain peoples and protecting mountain environments, with a secretariat hosted at the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
Former National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, Rai describes herself as a “daughter of the mountains”. Her native country, Nepal, has the world’s highest mountains, and its Himalayan region is home to many indigenous communities and rich biodiversity.
“Pollution, climate change and other human activities are threatening [mountains]”, said Rai. “Let us all come together and join hands to preserve and protect our beautiful mountains.”
Rai is also the founder of the Mira Rai Initiative, a platform for empowering aspiring female trail runners in Nepal and promoting trail running as a mainstream adventure sport in Nepal.
Coordinator of the Mountain Partnership Secretariat, Yuka Makino, says “as a remarkable athlete, avid advocate for gender equality and emblem of positivity and possibility, the appointment of Mira Rai as Mountain Partnership Goodwill Ambassador will help increase awareness of the vital importance of mountains, both in the Himalayan region and worldwide.”
Rai’s appointment was made official at a virtual celebration by FAO and the Mountain Partnership, ‘Mountain Biodiversity Matters’ on December 11.
The event focused on solutions for halting biodiversity loss and improving livelihoods in mountains and features the launch of a study on food insecurity in rural mountain areas.
With opening remarks by FAO Deputy Director-General, Maria Helena Semedo, the event included a high-level session with sustainable mountain development leaders, a roundtable on accelerating action for mountains, and a section with the Mountain Partnership Goodwill Ambassadors, including mountaineer and explorer Reinhold Messner, pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi and His Holiness Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang.
Einaudi and fellow ambassador, climber and filmmaker Jake Norton, will meanwhile release a video today in celebration of mountains using a track gifted to the Mountain Partnership by Einaudi.
The video shows the beauty and fragility of mountain ecosystems and their biodiversity, and the richness and diversity of peoples who rely on mountains and call them home.
FAO and the Mountain Partnership also announced the winners of the International Mountain Day photo contest on mountain biodiversity.
Over 500 beautiful photos of mountain landscapes, plants and animals were received from 55 countries.
Chosen by a panel of FAO judges, the winners are Tarushi Agrawal from India (children category), Jaime Venegas from Ecuador (youth category) and Troise Carmine-Washi from Italy (adult category). They will each receive an action camera.