Mountain Governance Gains Attention at International Conferences
MRI News
article written by MRI
23.09.19 | 10:09

The MRI Mountain Governance Working Group (MGWG) explores challenges and opportunities for improving effective and sustainable governance of mountain social-ecological systems. In recent months, MGWG members participated in two international conferences: The International Association for the Study of the Commons (IASC) in Lima, Peru, and the International Mountain Conference in Innsbruck, Austria.  

The MRI Mountain Governance Working Group is comprised of MRI SLC Members Catherine Tucker (University of Florida-USA), Irasema Ayala Alcántara (Universidad Nacional de México), Alexey Gunya (Russian Academy of Sciences), Elizabeth Jiménez (CIDES – Universidad Mayor de San Andres, Bolivia), Julia Klein (Colorado State University, USA), Esther Mwangi (CGIAR), and Jun Xu (Sichuan University, China). 

Lively discussion in Lima
The IASC conference in Lima brought together over 700 researchers and practitioners from around the world, with particularly good representation from the Americas.  MGWG members organized two panels focused on governance of common-pool resources in mountain regions. ‘Governing Mountain Commons: Challenges and Opportuni­ties for Sustainability in Contexts of Change,’ organized by Tucker, included presentations by Jimenez on ‘Managing the commons in the Bolivian Southern Highlands: Quinoa producers, markets and sustainability,’ and ‘Challenges and Opportunities for Improving Multi-Level Governance at the Intersection of Commons and Ecosystem Services’ by Tucker.  

Jimenez’s paper inspired considerable interest and discussion among the audience, which included practitioners and researchers working in the Peruvian Andes on quinoa production. Mwangi organized the session ‘Linking Governance of Forest and Water: Lessons for Policy and Practice from the ‘Water Towers’ of East Africa.’ Both sessions were well-attended and led to lively discussions that overflowed into coffee breaks. In addition, Tucker organized a workshop on ‘Collective Action, Governance and Adaptation:  Lessons from the Alps and Andes’ with researchers from The Mountain Institute (TMI) and the Slovenian Academy of Arts and Sciences (SAZU). The TMI team (including Dr. Jorge Recharte, Florencia Zapata, Mirella Gallardo, and Manuel Asencios) presented their work in the Andes – ‘Community Governance of Common-Pool Resources in Two Communities of the Nor-Yauyos Landscape Reserve’ – where they are collaborating with communities to restore traditional water storage and distribution systems. Meanwhile, the SAZU researchers (Drs. Mateja Smid-Hribar, Nevenka Bogataj, and Spela Ledinek Lozej) presented their research on ‘Local Governing of Common-Pool Resources in Rural Slovenia,’ ‘Social and Cultural Resources in the Alps: Study Groups,’ and ‘Cultural Heritage Collections in the Cross-Border Alpine Area.’

The subsequent discussion explored parallels between the Andean and Slovenian Alpine experiences, and exchanged ideas for shared learning and policy implications. Furthermore, the workshop generated subsequent interest in opportunities for collaboration. Following the workshop, the available members of the MGWG met on Skype and in person to work on a joint paper that is being produced by the entire team. The paper will report on the findings from its online mountain governance survey conducted in spring 2019.  The responses encompass five continents, 39 countries, and 80 responses in all. Analysis of this dataset is moving forward, and the group produced an initial outline of the paper.

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Pictured: Prof. Irasema Alcántara Ayala giving her keynote at the International Mountain Conference 2019 in Innsbruck, Austria (Photo: MRI). 

International connections in Innsbruck

The International Mountain Conference (IMC) provided a valuable opportunity for four members of MGWG to further share their research and collaborative efforts. Alcántara Ayala gave a compelling keynote on ‘Integrated Research on Disaster Risk: Challenges and Opportunities for the Future of Mountains,’ and also presented a flash talk exploring ‘The Complex Anatomy of Disaster Risk Governance in Mountains: On the Need for an Integrative Transformation Approach.’ Klein co-organized the workshop, ‘Climate Change in Mountain regions: Bringing Together Methodologies and Knowledge Systems’ and presented the results of ongoing research on ‘Opportunities for Successful Transdisciplinary Approaches to Sustainability Across World’s Mountains.’ 

In addition, Tucker and MGWG co-authors (Jimenez, Ayala-Alcantara, Gunya, Klein, Mwangi, and Xu) highlighted initial results of the MGWG’s survey on mountain governance for sustainability in the flash talk, ‘Opportunities and Challenges for Sustainable Governance and Local Development of Mountain Socio-Ecological Systems.’ And Gunya presented a comparative analysis on ‘Mountain Ecosystems-Analogues: Possibilities and Limitations of Knowledge Transfer and Experience in the Field of Mountain Governance.’ Moreover, members of the team who were able to attend also found time to meet and continue work on their analysis and write-up of findings from the mountain governance survey.

Both of these conferences offered invaluable opportunities for the MGWG to share research, exchange experiences working on mountain governance, continue their collaborative work, and meet with other researchers and colleagues whose work resonates with the challenges and goals of improving mountain governance toward sustainability.

More information about the MRI Mountain Governance Working Group can be found here. 

This article was written by Catherine Tucker and Elizabeth Jimenez of the MGWG.