REVIEW: UIAA GENERAL ASSEMBLY 2022

The 2022 UIAA – International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation – General Assembly (GA) was held in Banff, Canada on Saturday 29 October and hosted by the Alpine Club of Canada (ACC). It marked the UIAA’s 82nd GA and the third in Banff following events in 1988 and 2006.

A recap of the key decisions are covered below. A more comprehensive review, including information from panel discussions and the climate change summit, will be made available in the next UIAA monthly newsletter.


PLENARY SESSION

Over a hundred delegates from 40 different countries and as many different international climbing organisations attended the first in-person UIAA GA since 2019.

Among the invited guests were: former UIAA President Frits Vrijlandt; Marco Scolaris, President of the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC); Jan Bloudek representing the European Union of Mountaineering Associations (EUMA); Stéphane Lozach’meur from The Petzl Foundation; Pier Giorgio Oliveti, representing the Club Alpino Italiano (CAI), and François Masse from Parks Canada. The UIAA also received a message from International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach:

“The UIAA has been at the forefront to promote responsible mountaineering practises. From protecting the precious alpine environments, to advancing sustainable mountaineering sports like ice climbing, to raising young people with a respect for nature, you have led the way to demonstrate how the sporting community can contribute to promote the Olympic values.”

Peter Muir, able to lead in his first in-person GA as President, opened the Plenary Session.  Muir detailed the progress of the UIAA Strategic Plan, noting the closer collaboration between the UIAA Management Committee and Commissions and confirmed the recent decision to create two new UIAA Commissions – Legal Affairs and Training. Muir also highlighted the UIAA’s ambition to diversify its membership (further details below).

In a special vote, Club Alpino Italiano, a founding member of the UIAA, was re-elected as a full member. Its membership will take immediate effect on completion of the submission of its membership requirements. Once this process is complete, it will mark a significant development which sees one of the world’s most preeminent Alpine clubs return to the UIAA family.

There were no Executive Board (EB) elections meaning the composition of the seven-strong UIAA EB remains the same.

In terms of the UIAA Management Committee elections:

Josef Klenner (DAV, Germany) was re-elected as a Largest Federation Representative
Young Hoon Oh (KAF, Korea) was elected as Continental Representative for Asia, replacing Christine Pae (KAF) whose term came to an end.
Joachim Driessen (NKBV, Netherlands) was re-elected as a General Representative


In addition to the return of CAI, the UIAA welcomed three new member federations. This included the election of two new full members from South America:
Ecuador: Federacion Ecuatoriana de Andinismo y Escalada
Peru: Federación Deportiva Peruana de Escalada

A new associate member from India was also elected:
India: Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports (ABVIMAS)

From 1 January, 2023, the UIAA will represent 94 member organisations from 69 countries on six continents. They are comprised of 69 full members, one unit member, 18 associate members and six international observer members.

The election of the two full new members is particularly significant, extending the UIAA’s presence in Central and South America to seven countries.

Both the UIAA budget results for 2022 and forecast for 2023 were approved. The GA also agreed to waive the 2022 membership fee for the Ukrainian Mountaineering and Climbing Federation. Piotr Pustelnik, President of the Polish Mountaineering Association, also detailed the initiatives his federation has set up to support Ukrainian youth climbers. Further details, including on how to support this project, will be provided soon.

Three panel discussions addressed principally the progress the UIAA Commissions are making in view of the federation’s main projects and alignment with current Strategic Plan, a topic further addressed by UIAA General Secretary Lode Beckers. During the GA, the UIAA also presented the new edition of the Alpine Summer Skills Handbook, produced in partnership with The Petzl Foundation.

Further details on the focus of each Commission and Strategic Plan progress will be provided in the extended GA review.

CLIMATE CHANGE WORKSHOP

The UIAA is committed to helping combat the impact of climate change. Earlier this year the UIAA reinforced this commitment by creating a Climate Change Taskforce. Its brief can be found here. Furthermore the federation recently signed the UNFCCC Sports for Climate Action Declaration Commitment Letter. See letter here.

During the Workshop two climate change case studies were detailed – François Masse presented information on the Abbot Pass Refuge Cabin, the first major mountain site in Canada lost to climate change, and then Graham McDowell from the University of Calgary, gave a presentation titled: ‘The implications of warmer winters for ice climbing guides. A case study from the Mount Washington Valley, USA’. This research is supported by the American Alpine Club (AAC).

The World Café format workshop aimed at providing an opportunity to discuss topics related to sustainability and climate change in an informal format, to learn and to better understand needs and expectations of member federations.

It debated a number of questions including:

  • What is the difference between ‘climate change adaptation’ and ‘climate change mitigation’?
  • Where do the UIAA and member federations see biggest changes/threats in practicing mountaineering activities now and in the future?
  • How has the universe of climbing and mountaineering adapted to climate change?
  • What opportunities are there for mountaineers, if any, through the climate changing?
  • International and national climbing and mountaineering organisations who already calculate or who plan to calculate their carbon footprint, findings, methodology.
  • What is expected from the UIAA and member federations in terms of climate action?
  • Are members supporting UIAA’s commitments to the UNFCCC S4CA Framework?
  • What challenges do the UIAA and member federations face when elaborating a climate action plan?
  • How could member federations specifically avoid and reduce their footprint in regard to mountain huts?
  • Climbing and outdoor recreation involves lots of travel. How can it be avoided and/or reduced in a climber’s role as (a) a mountaineer; (b) an event organiser; (c) a federation delegate; (d) an athlete?
  • Meetings and competitions on international and national level and related travel

Further information on the findings will be released in the extended version of this release.

MOUNTAIN PROTECTION AWARD CEREMONY

During a ceremony held shortly after the General Assembly, Establishment of Self-Managed Climbing Parks project by Asociación 7a Escalada, Peru, was named as the ninth winner of the UIAA Mountain Protection Award (MPA).

Main photo: (l-r), Willy Montenegro – UIAA MC Continental Representative for South America; Carolina Adler, UIAA Mountain Protection Commission President; Mary Sanseverino, UIAA Mountain Protection Commission and MPA Assessment Lead; Kimberly Schwartz from Asociación 7a Escalada. Credit: UIAA/Amy Liu

In doing so it became the first project from South America to win the Award. A full press release can be found here. The event was livestreamed and featured contributions from the 2020-21 MPA winner Giroparchi Nature Trail (who detailed progress made since winning last year’s Award), the Alpine Club of Canada (who provided details on their comprehensive State of the Mountains report) and MPA main partner Bally Peak Outlook Foundation (who highlighted the expansion of its Peak Outlook clean-up programmes to areas beyond the Himalaya).

CULTURAL EVENTS

Banff National Park, situated in the heart of Canada’s Rocky Mountains and is the birthplace of the Canadian national park system created in 1887. A number of cultural programmes are being held in parallel with the event, including the famous Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival and a Cultural Programme dedicated to Canada’s indigenous peoples and their role in early mountaineering in the Canadian Rockies.

Much has been written about the “early explorations” of Canada’s Rocky Mountains – and for the most part, this romantic history is dominated by settler cultures: Europeans, Americans, and some early Canadians. Often overlooked is just how much of Canada’s early mountaineering achievements were dependent on local Indigenous knowledge, labour, and participation.

The General Assembly programme provided some opportunities for UIAA delegates to learn and understand more about these issues. This included a special welcome ceremony. Further reading here and to be included in extended GA review.

The GA host was Grant Statham, the recipient of the 2022 Summit of Excellence Award. The Award celebrates long-term contributions, service, and demonstrated impact within the mountain culture community in Canada by an individual or group from across the country.

During the GA, a minute’s silence was held to remember those who lost their lives in the mountains over the past few years. A special tribute was made to Larry Shiu  – Chinese Taipei Mountaineering Association – who died recently in climbing accident in Taiwan.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY IN 2023

Next year’s UIAA General Assembly will be held in Trabzon, Turkey on Saturday 21 October. It will be hosted by the Turkish Mountaineering Federation (TDF).

The UIAA thanks the ACC, notably Isabelle Daigneault (President), Ken Hewitt (Project Manager, former ACC President) and Carine Salvy (Executive Director), for their hospitality and excellent hosting of the event.

A photo library from the General Assembly can be found here. Photos in this article and in the library courtesy of Amy Liu.

Main photo: Peter Muir, UIAA President and Pier Giorgio Oliveti, representating CAI