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Upcoming Events

Contribution of LTSER Programs in Mountains to Global Policy Agendas and UN Conventions

01/10/2019 04/10/2019 13:00 16:00


External Event URL

Event location

Jardin Flore-Alpe
Route de l'Adray 27 1938 Champex-Lac, Switzerland

This workshop will deliver a synthesis of how mountain long-term social-ecological research (LTSER) programs support global policy agendas and UN conventions, and how to strengthen their contribution.


The most critical data for quantifying environmental changes and identifying their causes, for understanding social-ecological systems and predicting their trajectories, for informing environmental policies and management practices, and for supporting global policy agendas, are the time series provided by Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) and monitoring programs. Many LTERs worldwide have been running for several decades, and the creation of large networks of research and monitoring sites across ecosystems such as the European and international networks of LTER programs (eLTER, ILTER) has been contributing to the gradual valorisation of unique and rich datasets. Since the first LTERs were initiated, and as the social and economic dimensions to environmental change became an evidence, a shift of paradigm gradually occurred from strictly ecological research to socio-ecological research (LTSER) and the monitoring of social and economic variables likely to drive environmental change and explain observed changes in natural systems. With the concept of adaptive monitoring, Lindenmayer and others have since catalysed an additional shift towards the iterative evaluation of data collection designs and methods based on tractable scientific questions, robust statistical designs, and conceptual models of ecosystems. LT(S)ER programs typically collect a large set of information ranging from species diversity to climatic, social, and abiotic variables.

LT(S)ER programs can inform policy and management through different means. These include the direct monitoring of existing indicators such as individual Aichi targets or Sustainable Development Goal indicators, the provision of data to support essential variables (eg., Essential Biodiversity Variables), or the provision of data and information to support spatial, temporal, and topical prioritization (eg., post-2020 agenda setting). However, in spite of their obvious value, the wealth of information they provide to support decision making towards sustainability, and the publication of leaflets and impact sheets attesting to their pivotal role, the contribution of LT(S)ER in support of global policy agendas can undoubtedly be strengthened. The example of Australia’s LTER network suggests that the demand from policy bodies for LT(S)ER data does not strongly support the mobilization of the necessary funding towards LT(S)ER.


Despite the challenges of data collection in steep and remote environments, a number of LTER programs exist that are collecting data of unique temporal depth in the alpine zone, and more generally in mountains. The Niwot Ridge LTER in Colorado (http://niwot.colorado.edu/) is among the most famous programs but numerous sites exist throughout the world (https://deims.org). These long-term ecological data are crucial for understanding the pervasive effects of global change on the essential capacity of mountain systems to support human populations locally and globally. Accordingly, various efforts, including workshops (eg., “Long-term Research in Mountain Areas”, Obergurgl, 2017), have been undertaken within the mountain research community to federate data collection and analysis, and numerous scientific publications attest to the important contribution of long-term research and monitoring to our understanding of mountain systems and their evolution under global change. Yet, to date, no synthetic review exists of how LT(S)ER data pertaining to mountains inform development and conservation guidelines, agendas, or conventions, and support decision making towards sustainable mountain development.

Objective and Specific Aims

The objective of this workshop is consequently to deliver a synthetic overview of how mountain LT(S)ER currently support global policy agendas and UN conventions, and how their contribution could be improved and strengthened in the future.

Specific aims are to:

  1. Understand the knowledge, data, and information needs that policy agendas and UN conventions have that can be addressed with LT(S)ER data
  2. Identify what needs are currently addressed with existing mountain LT(S)ER data
  3. Discuss whether LT(S)ER programs in mountains are sufficiently multi-, inter-, and transdisciplinary to properly relate processes spanning across multiple spheres (atmosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, socioeconomic sphere) and to ultimately inform policy agendas
  4. Conclude with an assessment of how the LT(S)ER and the policy communities could benefit more or better from each other and specifically: 
     What new or additional indicators can be defined that can benefit from existing monitoring programs
     What additional monitoring designs, data, and information are needed for a more effective contribution of mountain LTSERs to specific agendas and/or conventions and how can LTSER better benefit policy-oriented monitoring
     What (new or additional) infrastructure (physical & informational), collaboration frameworks (inter- & transdisciplinary expertise), monitoring designs, and financial means are needed to collect these data and generate this information
     Can LTSER data access and availability be improved and how
     What engagement platform is needed to facilitate co-production with policy/convention representatives and the effective uptake of LTSER science into agenda setting and policymaking


The workshop will serve as a science-policy discussion and collaboration platform. Accordingly, the program will revolve around both individual interventions by policy representatives and scientists, respectively, and joint mapping work and discussions. First (1), policymakers and convention representatives will present data and information needs, current state of interaction with LT(S)ER community, issues, and possibilities (cf. specific aim #1). Then, participants from various LT(S)ER will map their data and information onto the overview gathered under (1), including publications, databases, reports, etc. (cf. specific aim #2).

These initial inputs, collected during the first day of the workshop, will subsequently flow into the work and discussions planned for the second day. During that second day, participants will produce a gap analysis and discuss in plenum how communities could better work together (cf. specific aim #3 and #4). As many mountain ranges, in which LT(S)ER programs are ongoing or have existed, as possible will be included in the review. In preparation for this workshop, standardized information about individual programs – including information on the type of data collected, the budget, the future science plan, and the kind of engagement with global agendas and conventions – will be collected through online web queries as well as an online survey to participants and program coordinators. For future reference, the survey will be made and remain available on the website of the Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment.

The selected agendas, conventions, and frameworks include the UN 2030 agenda, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Paris Agreement, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), as well as the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON) and the GEO Global Network on Observations and Information in Mountain Environments (GEO-GNOME).

The preliminary program is available to view on the Global Mountain Biodiversity Assessment website.

Participation and Registration

Participation in the workshop is mostly on invitation. However, at present four additional scientists interested in joining are welcome to apply by 2nd September 2019 using the using the dedicated application form.

Registration is free of charge and accommodation and food are covered. Participants must cover their own travel costs.

Contact Organizers

Davnah Payne & Christophe Randin
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

This workshop was funded as part of the MRI Call for Synthesis Workshops 2019.


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