The overarching theme of the 34th International Geographical Congress is 'Geography: Bridging the Continents.' The Congress will explore many areas relevant to mountain research, and includes a number of mountain-specific sessions. Abstract submission is now open and closes 11 January 2021.

The 34th International Geographical Congress will take place in Istanbul, Turkey from 16-20 August 2021. The Congress aims to focus on six key topics: Globalization vs Localization; Climate Change; Migration and Conflicts; Earth and Disasters; Eurasia and Middle East Studies; and Anthropocene. 

A number of mountain-specific sessions will take place during the congress. Please note that the below list is by no means exhaustive, and that many other sessions and workshops focus on subjects pertinent to mountains. The full programme and further details about the event are available on the 34th International Geographical Congress website. 

Session: Cold Regions at the Crossroads: Changing Climate, Social Systems, and Human Agency

Chair: Nancy Doubleday
Co-chair: Tatiana Vlasova

In 2019, we received the reports of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the most recent global biodiversity assessment and updates to the time of the Doomsday Clock. “Climate crisis” is now part of the Canadian – and global - vocabulary. The urgency of developing adaptive measures to support greater capacity for change across the full spectrum of social systems is self-evident. Ecosystems driven to instability by socio-economic pressures against background conditions of climate variability, threaten collapse of civil society. Conflict ensues. The environmental consequences in turn force – and attract - human migration. Peace, order and good governance are also at risk. Wherever rates of change are accelerating, system shifts hold potential for opportunity and risk. Cold and high altitude regions offer sensitive extremes and contrasts, making extremes visible, and demanding coordinated human responses. This session seeks papers detailing challenges and documenting changes in cold and high altitude regions and beyond, as well as recruiting papers envisioning roles for human agency across scales, to form part of an active response to these current pressures. The purpose is to network current research and stimulate comprehensive policy response as a basis for enhanced adaptive capacity and increased human agency for form part of an active response to these current pressures. The purpose is to network current research and stimulate comprehensive policy response as a basis for enhanced adaptive capacity and increased human agency for form part of an active response to these current pressures. The purpose is to network current research and stimulate comprehensive policy response as a basis for enhanced adaptive capacity and increased human agency for sustainability.


Session: Cold Regions at the Crossroads Ii: Changing Climate and its Environmental-Social Impacts

Chair: Wieslaw Ziaja
Co-chair: Nancy Doubleday

The session will focus on effects of the climate warming in Arctic, Antarctic and high mountains. Firstly, there will be presented transformations (changes) of all environment/landscape and their components (i.e. glaciation: glaciers, permafrost, sea-ice; landforms and deposits; water bodies and drainage; soils, animals and plants. Secondly, there will be presented influences of the aforementioned natural (made in nature) transformations on human activity and economic/social/political relations in Arctic, Antarctic and high mountains. Of course, the presentations joining both the natural and human consequences of the climate change will be of special value. The session presentations should not refer to "pure" climatological problems. The main aim of the session is to complete a picture of spatial differentiation of the title problems in the Earth. Organizers of the session are also especially interested in presentations on changes in polar (both physical and human) geography, e.g. new coastlines in the Arctic and Antarctic, or new sea-routes across the Arctic Ocean.

Session: Evolving Human-Environment Relationships in Cold and High Altitude Regions

Chair: Marie-Jeanne Royer
Co-chair: Tatiana Vlasova

The current rate of climate change in Polar Regions is expected to pose ever-increasing risks to local environments and human population. Combined and interconnected with important environmental, social and economic developments, the IPCC has reported that it expects climate change impacts to be heterogeneous across the regions. Traditional, indigenous and local knowledge systems play a crucial part in understanding local human-environment relationships, impacts of change and adaptation opportunities. This session explores the evolution of human-environment interactions brought on by tensions and stressors occurring due to climate and/or environmental change. We are particularly interested in research integrating traditional, indigenous or local knowledge but welcome all submissions looking at the evolving human-environment relationship in cold or high altitude regions.

Session: Sustainable Reconstructions of Highlands and Head Water Regions

Chair: Bindhy Wasini Pandey
Co-chair: Subhash Anand

Sustainable Reconstructions of Highlands and Head Water Regions: Mountain ecosystems are abode of resources which are globally important as water tower of the earth, reservoirs of rich biodiversity, and a popular destination for recreation, tourism and cultural heritage. Mountains are characterised by a high energy environment due to high relief, steep slopes, complex geological structures with active tectonic processes and continued seismic activities. The World Mountains have been disturbed by anthropogenic activities and consequent climate chnage, climate variability and related geo-hydrological hazards hazards of which cloudburst, flashfllod, landslide, rock fall, and soil erosion are of worth mentioning. The major ecological degradation such as deforestation is accelerated due to road construction, mining activity and hydropower development collectively causing several environmental problems. The growth of population has an increasing pressure on renewable and non-renewable resources to meet the basic needs of food and raw materials. Mountains are worst affected by climate chnage as perceived through glacial behaviour, upward treeline shift and change in land use and croping patterns on mountains. The resultant environmental degradation and serious ecological imbalances are posing threat to people, local resources and environment. Sustainable mountain development improves the quality of life within the carrying capacity of the mountain’s life support system. Time has come to adapt new paradigm of development, holistic and ecological in its approach shifting from analysis to synthesis from linear to non-linear thinking, from reductionism to holism, a shift from alienation to community participatory approach (CPA). The Session Sustainable Reconstructions of Highlands and Head Water Regions aims to encourage the geophysical, socio-economic and environmental research for conservation and sustianable development of mountain environment. Session will be highly useful to IGC 2020 as mountains have best evidences of climate change throughout the world and of immense importance as well as relevent to students and scholars for real life domains of the common people of the world. As a Human Equator, Himalaya alone sustains almost 50 per cent of the world population through its resources. Climate change in Himalaya and world mountains have worsen the vulnerability of hazrads and extreme events. Session participants will present case studies of various issues related to climate change covering from local to global mountain system. I will prepare a couple of posters on Impact of Climate Change on Highlands and Head Water Regions apart from power point presentation of case studies. Power point presentation facility will be required during the workshop.

Session: Change in Land System and its Implications on Ecosystem and Environment in High Asia

Chair: Yili Zhang
Co-chair: Mir Matin, Wei Deng

Land use and climate change impact on the mountain ecosystem service is one of the burning research issues in the High Asia Mountain regions, which directly related to the peoples livelihoods and their economic status. Mountain regions known as the rich environments and diverse biodiversity with many challenges. It is notable that even a small changes in mountain areas the consequences not only limited in the mountain areas but also affected by the surrounding territories. Global change highly impacted the nature and society especially in the High Asia mountain regions. The impacts of such changes substantially drawn the attention of many scientists to carry out research work to understand the processes of change, its implications and mitigation measures and adaptation to the changes in trans-boundary regions. So the motivation and the purpose for this session is to exchange and share the latest research findings and knowledge of land use and land cover change and its impact on ecosystem and sustainable development in the High Asia. Including the topic about five contents in High Asia:(a) Land use and land cover change,(b) Ecosystem services,(c) Climate change impact and adaptation strategies,(d) Sustainable development,(e) Policy implication.

Land Use/Cover Change Impacts on the Mountain Landscapes

Chair: Udo Schickhoff
Co-chair: Monica Dumitrascu

The mountains landscapes have been greatly modified by human activities after the industrial revolution. The anthropogenic activities, particularly during the later half of the last century, including the construction of roads, hydropower projects, expansion of urban and agricultural land use, changes in the traditional agricultural crops and practices, have substantially disturbed the ecological balance and associated services. As a result, there has been a greater reduction of natural forests cover, biodiversity, species, and disturbance of geobiochemical cycles etc. in the world mountains. We, therefore, will discuss the issues and challenges of the disturbance and modification of the mountain landscapes caused due to the intensification of the anthropogenic activities. Besides, the present session also invites the case studies related to the positive developments and restorations of the mountain landscape, that can serve as an example for the degraded mountain landscapes recovery.

Mountain Ecosystems Responses to Climate Change

Chair: Suraj Mal
Co-chair: Udo Schickhoff

World mountains have experienced unprecedented changes in their ecosystems driven through natural and climatic changes. Among the different mountain ecosystems, the high altitude systems particularly reveal more visible alterations and changes e.g. changes in permafrost, glaciers, glacial lakes, glacial-fluvial systems, a succession of primary vegetation on de-glaciated terrain etc. These changes are already becoming risk zones for human habitation and many other ecosystem services. Consequently, the floods related to the glacial lakes breaching, hydro-meteorological in nature, draught associated moisture stress and related issues with vegetation development and growth, slope failures etc. Therefore, the present session will discuss case studies about changes in glacier systems, permafrost zones, hydrology, local ecosystem and biosphere and their influences on the ecosystem in general and socio-economic systems in particular.

Symposium of Mountain Studies

Chair: Fausto O. Sarmiento
Co-chair: Alexey Gunya, previously an MRI SLC member.

From the perspective of geography, mountain systems are the intrinsic archetype to understand space and place with the predicament of the third dimension. The mountainscape is also the metageographical cognitive frontier of ancestral, historical and modern societies that have delved notions of national identity, regional specificities and global provision of ecosystem services, including food hubs, art nodes and the domestication of wild products, and other nature benefits to people for societal wellbeing. As mountains are conceived as socio-ecological production landscapes, their dynamic and complex presses and pulses exert both permanent and ephemeral influences on the outcome of sustainability scenarios through different drivers. Therefore, adaptation and resilience to global environmental change is better understood with insights from montology. As a crosscutting theme, we are offering montologists the forum to discuss new ways of looking at the transdisciplinary science of mountain studies in its different forms with distinct emphases. Whether the geomorphology of edifices or the nuanced terminology of physical features, or the contested realities of the political ecology of mountaineers, or the reliance on extractive economies for the developing world, a better epistemology of mountains is expected from the contributions presented in this Commission. Many geographers will be expected to reflect from traditional methods of mountain geography on the implications of geoscience for a sustainable future. Many more will likely find explanations of the critical biogeography of mountains linked to the human imprint that has been passed as biocultural heritage into the present communities. Even more will be exposed to the needs of changing paradigms, curving orthodox hegemonic views of geography towards new decolonial scholarship sponsored by the contentions interpretations about mountains from indigenous perspectives and different religious denominations and economic affiliations. In sum, our Commission is happy to receive submissions for presentations dealing with any topic related to mountain studies.

Please consult the 34th International Geographical Congress website for the full programme and further information about the event, including instructions on how to submit your abstract.

Abstract submission closes 11 January 2021.

Cover image by Şinasi Müldür.

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