From 8 to 10 November 2023, the very first international summit dedicated to the protection of glaciers and poles was held in Paris, during the Paris Peace Forum.
Polar regions, which are particularly vulnerable to phenomena like climate change and biodiversity erosion, are being increasingly exposed to environmental threats notably due to tourism and risks of over-exploitation.
In 2022, France adopted its National Polar Strategy for 2030, which sounded the alarm about the fragility of glacial and polar worlds and proposed concrete responses at the international level. In this context, the French President has decided to host a first-of-its-kind Summit on glaciers and poles, in partnership with the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
The One Planet Polar Summit sought to bring together the international community in order to elaborate a long-term strategy for the protection and adaptation of glacial and polar biodiversity and populations. A great variety of actors were convened, including scientific researchers, experts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), non-governmental organizations and representatives of indigenous peoples.
This Summit led to the adoption of the Paris Call for Glaciers and Poles. This declaration underlines how “the years 2021 and 2022 saw massive ice loss in mountain glaciers, with ice loss rates 20% higher on average than the previous decade”. The countries and international organizations that endorsed the Call wish to sound the “alarm about the scale and the speed of the melting ice and thawing permafrost and the risk of crossing thresholds and tipping points, which have increased with the continued rise in global greenhouse emissions”.
Moreover, the Declaration also calls for more concrete action. For instance, it proposes “ more in-depth scientific research on the cryosphere without delay, better integration of the effects of cryosphere changes into economic decision-making and increased education on the issues relating to this”. The international community has to act now, and its current efforts should be scaled up.