The GEO-GNOME Workshop “Identifying Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs) and Essential Societal Variables (ESVs) in Mountain Environments” took place at the ETH Zürich, Switzerland on 20-21 February 2020. The workshop brought together experts from different networks and fields of mountain research to discuss and consider a list of essential variables needed to monitor and report on changes in mountain biodiversity and social-ecological systems.

Despite the fact that the mountainous areas of Switzerland are often considered to be lacking in innovation compared to their city counterparts, in reality innovative ideas abound in these regions, especially for solving specific problems in business and society. These “social innovations” differ from innovations in products or technologies and promise positive effects for regional development.

In the climate change research community, ‘Loss and Damage’ is an approach that refers to the assessment and acceptance of the unavoidable negative impacts caused by climate change.[1] Although Loss and Damage was born as a concept as early as the nineties, it wasn’t until 2007 that it would be formally referred to in the Bali Action Plan, and later in 2013 when the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage would be created. Loss and Damage continues to be a hotly debated topic, in part due to the reality that the most vulnerable communities tend to pay the highest price in climate change effects, and there are differing ideas on how to respond to this imbalance.

Snow Today, the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR)'s new tool for monitoring snow conditions, provides “near-real-time updates of snow conditions across the Northern Hemisphere,” according to their website.

UNESCO has launched a Global Consultation on Open Science with a view to developing a standard-setting instrument in the form of a Recommendation, to be adopted by the UNESCO General Conference in November 2021. The World Data System (WDS) of the International Science Council has been invited to contribute to this process. As a partner of the WDS, MRI is also encouraging its community of mountain experts to contribute to this process.

James Thornton joined the MRI coordination office in May 2020 as Scientific Project Officer to the GEO-GNOME project, which seeks to improve the availability and accessibility of environmental data in mountainous regions to the benefit of human societies globally. 

As part of its mission, the MRI provides funding contributions for synthesis workshops that bring together global change researchers to address specific topics of interest to the mountain research, policy and practitioner communities. The deadline for proposals for this year’s call is 3 July 2020.

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