Global Quantitative Assessment of Sustainable Mountain Development

As part of the Sustainable Mountain Development for Global Change (SMD4GC) programme, which ran from 2013 to 2018, the MRI developed an approach for assessing sustainable mountain development using the Sustainable Development Goals framework.

Such assessments can help contextualize and highlight the specific needs and challenges for mountain communities and ecosystems in addressing sustainable mountain development. They can also inform policy and decision-making at the global, national, and subnational level.

This work was undertaken in collaboration with the University of Bern’s Centre for Development and Environment (CDE). 

Outputs and Activities

Publication of Issue Brief 2018 | Leaving No One in Mountains Behind

In this Issue Brief, the MRI and the Center for Development and Environment (CDE) present initial steps towards localization of the 2030 Agenda to mountain areas. The Issue Brief highlights common development priorities in mountains, such as sustainable resource use, climate action, and strengthening people’s livelihoods and resilience. But it also reveals significant differences based on mountains’ diversity.

Wymann von Dach, S., Bracher, C., Peralvo, M., Perez, K., Adler, C., and a group of contributing authors. 2018. ‘Leaving No One in Mountains Behind: Localizing the SDGs for Resilience of Mountain People and Ecosystems.’ Issue Brief on Sustainable Mountain Development. Bern, Switzerland: Centre for Development and Environment and Mountain Research Initiative, with Bern Open Publishing (BOP).

Desktop Study 2017-2018

An evidence-informed preliminary assessment of a SDG indicator subset tailored to a SMD context was performed in a desktop study from September to December 2017. Data availability and possibilities to disaggregate SDG indicator data to meaningful spatial contexts for SMD were assessed.

The preliminary report was published as a working paper in collaboration with CDE.

Bracher C, Wymann von Dach S, Adler C. 2018. Challenges and Opportunities in Assessing Sustainable Mountain Development Using the UN Sustainable Development Goals. A Report Compiled by the Mountain Research Initiative (MRI), in Collaboration with the Centre for Development and Environment (CDE). CDE Working Paper 3. Bern, Switzerland: Centre for Development and Environment (CDE).

Expert Survey and Workshop 2018

In April 2018, a survey of experts from five mountain regions around the world was conducted to identify the most critical development issues in each respective region and which SDG targets that offer high leverage potential to address them. Expert workshops were then conducted in May to find consolidated agreement on the targets with highest priority for SMD. A subsequent workshop then identified SDG targets of particular importance for improving the climate resilience of mountain communities. The SDG target subsets identified were applied to case studies using data accessible within the SDG framework and Geographic Information Systems. These efforts were conducted with local partner organizations in Ecuador, Kyrgyzstan, Switzerland, Uganda, and the Hindu Kush Himalayan Region. The results of this project were made commonly accessible in Q4 of 2018 in the Issue Brief  ‘Leaving No One in Mountains Behind.’

Project Background

All sub-projects for assessing SMD using the SDG framework were carried out in the context of the Swiss Development Cooperation’s ‘Promoting Sustainable Mountain Development for Global Change’ (SMD4GC) program. The MRI was a subcontracted partner of the University of Bern’s Centre for Development and Environment, one of the main SMD4GC partners.

In the SMD4GC program, mountain regions are recognized as key contexts for sustainable development due to their provision of critical and indispensable goods and services. However, existing challenges for mountain socio-ecological systems (i.e., incidence of poverty or impacts of climate change) are projected to be exacerbated with the ever-accelerating pace of global change. The SMD4GC program therefore aimed to contribute to SMD in the context of uncertain changes in climatic, environmental, and socio-economic conditions, focusing on poverty and risk reduction.

In light of this, monitoring and assessing the status of SMD indicators is of particular importance. Assessments can help contextualize and highlight the specific needs of and challenges for mountain communities and ecosystems in addressing SMD. Moreover, they can help inform policy and decision-making at the global, national, and subnational level in terms of steering SMD efforts for the benefit of people living in the highlands and adjacent lowlands. To observe the progress achieved in mountain regions, one activity line tasked to the MRI was to develop an approach to assess SMD. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were deemed appropriate to provide both a meaningful international political framework and standardized indicators that could be tailored to the assessment of SMD.