Snow Leopard is Guardian of Third Pole: Kyrgyzstan President


BISHKEK: Kyrgyzstan President Sadyr Zhaparov has called for joint global action to save the lives and well-being of billions of people who depend on the fresh water and ecosystem services provided by mountains.

“The high-altitude ecosystem serves as a source of water for the entire continent and sustains a third of the world’s population.

The water flowing from the glaciers is the essence of our life. Therefore, it is apt to say that the snow leopard is the guardian of the most important resources,” he said.

“Glaciers are melting, weather conditions are becoming increasingly unstable, and despite its minimal contribution to climate change, the snow leopard’s range is warming twice as rapidly as the global average. It is one of the most vulnerable regions on Earth. The urgency of our conservation efforts cannot be overstated; our commitment to protecting these mountains is a commitment to protecting the future of our planet.”


Snow leopards live in the Third Pole, the planet’s largest repository of ice and permafrost outside the North and South Poles. This large high mountain region of Asia provides clean water for over a billion people, and is home to a rich diversity of human pastoral cultures coexisting with a fascinating array of wildlife that is uniquely adapted to living in the high mountains, Zhaparov said in a presidential paper.

“The snow leopard isa flagship for conservation of Asia’s high mountain ecosystems. Its presence also symbolizes healthy ecosystem services such as fresh water and carbon sequestration that benefit a large proportion of humanity. Conservation of snow leopards is synonymous with the conservation of biological and cultural diversity of the Third Pole.

Snow leopard conservation, therefore, is not merely about protecting an endangered species. It is equally about fostering resilience and prosperity for the communities that share their mountainous realm. This must be done through sustainable local economies, green investments, and, most importantly, through climate adaptation programs in the Third Pole.”


Snow Leopard: A symbol of climate change adaptation in the Third Pole

Using the snow leopard as an indicator, we can talk about the long-term development of a region with sufficient water availability and conservation of glaciers and the high-mountain ecosystem of the Third Pole, which encompasses the mountain ranges of Asia, such as the Himalayas, Hindu Kush, Pamir, Tien Shan and Altai, as well as the Tibetan plateau,” he said.

“Melting glaciers at the Third Pole threaten the lives and well-being of billions of people who depend on the fresh water and ecosystem services    these mountains provide.

The Third Pole, which is often overlooked in climate change discussions, requires our immediate attention. Melting glaciers and retreating snow are not just localized problems, but global crises.”


Zhaparov warned that the increased frequency of extreme climate events directly impacts vulnerable communities, disrupting their sustainable livelihoods.

“This is a global call to action. The stakes are high, and the time to act is now. Together, let us create a story of hope, resilience, and collective action to preserve the planet’s Third Pole and improve the well-being of our mountain people,” he said.

“I urge you to support the snow leopard as a symbol of climate change adaptation in the Third Pole. It is an emblem of our commitment to protecting the region’s mountain ecosystems and the livelihoods of those who call these lands home.

“We are at the forefront of protecting this invaluable natural resource. Our countries remain steadfast in our commitment to fight for the future of our planet’s Third Pole. We understand, however, that we cannot deal with this problem alone.


We invite everyone to join us and support our joint efforts to preserve this global common heritage. We need to take decisive action and act together now, before it’s too late.

“Let’s stand together to protect this priceless treasure so that our descendants can inherit a world full of incredible beauty, biodiversity, and rich and sustainable cultures”.

Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program

According to the presidential paper, the Kyrgyz Republic is committed to mitigating and adapting the negative consequences of climate change, preventing land-degradation and preventing biodiversity.

It hosts the Secretariat of the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program, a unique inter- governmental alliance that is scaling up conservation initiatives across the 12 snow leopard range countries, including Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

The program is celebrating its 10th year. After a decade of collaborative conservation, we view the next 10 years as the decade of climate adaptation in the Third Pole for snow leopards and people.

International leaders and mountain champions will discuss the crucial role of healthy mountain ecosystems for people and the planet, during celebrations of International Mountain Day (IMD) on December 11-13.

According to Mountain Partnership, the focus of this year’s IMD, “Restoring mountain ecosystems”, aims to call for nature-based solutions for mountains as well as to fully include mountains in the United Nations (UN) Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021–2030, which is co-led by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and the UN Environment Program (UNEP).

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