Mountains for Europe’s Future

In 2014, the Mountain Research Initiative as the Swiss representative of CH-AT, the Swiss Austrian Alliance for Mountain Research, led a lobbying effort to increase mountain research in the European Union. The short term aim was to get more mountain research topics into the 2018-20 calls of Horizon 2020, the EU’s current research funding program; the long-term goal was to increase awareness of decision makers about the importance of mountains for all of Europe.

Key Output

Mountains for Europe’s Future: A Strategic Research Agenda

Mountains are important for Europe. Mountains for Europe’s Future explains their significance for energy and food production, climate action, and transport. It makes the case for including more interdisciplinary mountain research topics in the major European research funding programmes, such as Horizon 2020.

Drexler, C., V. Braun, D. Christie, B. Claramunt, T. Dax, I. Jelen, R. Kanka, N. Katsoulakos, G. Le Roux, M. Price, T. Scheurer & R. Weingartner (2016): Mountains for Europe‘s Future: A Strategic Research Agenda.


The Strategic Research Agenda Mountains for Europe’s Future was the product of a year-long collaboration between researchers based in centres of excellence across many different disciplines and European countries. The primary goal was to highlight the importance of mountains in providing insights and solutions to many of Europe’s pressing challenges. To this end, Mountains for Europe’s Future called for the inclusion of specific call topics on mountain research within the 2018–2020 Work Programmes of Horizon 2020.

Mountains for Europe’s Future aimed to raise awareness of the many contributions that mountains make, and can make, to life in the lowlands. It communicated the growing pressures on mountain regions and provided an overview of key challenges and opportunities.

Europe’s mountains are not only among the regions where the effects of climate change are most evident, but are also experiencing notable land use change and significant losses of rural populations. Some of Europe’s less developed regions are in mountainous areas, yet mountains are among the most important providers of natural resources. Many mountain areas are at risk of becoming primarily tourism destinations for urban citizens, with negative impacts on cultural and natural heritage.

Such challenges require original solutions that will bring benefits both in the mountains and more widely across Europe. Interdisciplinary research in mountains can contribute very positively to addressing Horizon 2020 priorities, as well as wider EU policy goals. Such research can play an important role in making mountain regions more competitive, innovative, and able to strongly contribute to the European Commission’s economic growth and sustainability agenda. Equally, mountain areas are places to develop and deploy new technologies, and can be test-beds for innovative solutions to many of Europe’s most pressing challenges – not only in the mountains, but also in other areas with sparse populations and/ or where access is a challenge.

Mountains for Europe’s Future was developed to address concerns that Horizon 2020 calls were not adequately covering interdisciplinary research in mountain areas. The document made a compelling case for why this important gap required addressing within the 2018–2020 calls. It also proposed research to contribute towards implementing the European Commission’s Action Plan for the Alpine Region, which makes a specific commitment to achieving its goals through projects financed under Horizon 2020. The hope was that the evidence and recommendations presented would encourage the European Commission to include specific call topics on mountain research within the 2018–2020 Work Programmes of Horizon 2020, and inspire researchers as they prepared their proposals.