Sustainability Tip: Today is International Mountain Day to celebrate sustainability in mountain communities | VailDaily.com

Sustainability Tip: Today is International Mountain Day to celebrate sustainability in mountain communities

Lauren Deriaz
Sustainability Tip
Like many local mountain ranges, the jagged peaks of the Gore Range were created by the ancient and ongoing forces of plate tectonics and later shaped by the forces of wind, water and ice. International Mountain Day celebrates efforts to preserve natural phenomenons like what created Gore Range.
Rick Spitzer | Special to the Daily

Today is International Mountain Day, so it is a great time to consider how mountain resort communities, like ours, can pursue sustainability.

Mountains are home to 15% of the world’s people, provide habitat for 25% of the world’s plants and animals and are the starting point for 70% of the world’s fresh water. These benefits exist because of a delicate balance of cold temperatures that preserve snow and ice in the mountains. As our climate changes, so do mountain environments, putting the benefits of mountain environments at risk. To bring more attention to preserving mountain communities, the United Nations established Dec. 11 as International Mountain Day.

International Mountain Day celebrates the sustainability initiatives within our own community and helps people learn about the resources that exist to get sustainability tips and support. One of our community’s guiding certifications is the Mountains IDEAL standard. The Mountain IDEAL standard is designed for the unique challenges of mountain resort communities and is recognized by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council. In 2018, Vail became the first community in the world to receive the Mountain IDEAL certification and the first certified sustainable destination in the United States.

Being Mountain IDEAL-certified means that Vail must meet and maintain progress on 44 sustainability criteria and 72 indicators. According to the Mountain IDEAL standard, the criteria “provide a framework used for education and outreach, economic development, policy development, action planning, measurement, evaluation, and as a basis for destination-level certification by a qualified auditor.”

Walking Mountains maintains and facilitates the Mountain IDEAL standard, which means our staff is available to provide sustainability tips and support to mountain resort communities as they pursue sustainability.

Walking Mountains also manages Actively Green, a local sustainability training and certification program for local businesses that has helped Vail achieve the Mountain IDEAL certification. It offers numerous programs and coaching for other sustainability initiatives as well, including zero waste and energy efficiency. These all exist in an effort to foster sustainability efforts in our community and protect our mountains on International Mountain Day and every other day.

Want some sustainability tips for your sustainability journey? Read past Sustainability Tips articles or visit walkingmountains.org/sustainability.

Lauren Deriaz is the energy programs coordinator at Walking Mountains Sustainability. She can be reached at laurend@walkingmountains.org.