Outcomes of GEO Mountains' Regional Workshop in the Andes
GEO Mountains
article written by MRI
05.03.24 | 10:03

On 20-22 February 2024, the Mountain Research Initiative (MRI), GEO Mountains, the Consorcio para el Desarrollo Sostenible de la Ecorregión Andina (CONDESAN), the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI), Instituto de Hidrología, Meteorología y Estudios Ambientales (IDEAM), AmeriGEO, the Humboldt Institute and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), co-convened a workshop in Bogotá, Colombia.

The workshop sought to bring together data providers and users from a range of disciplines across the mountains of the Andes. More specifically, through a series of invited presentations and group discussion activities, the workshop sought to: (1) identify examples of good practice, challenges, and solutions / opportunities regarding mountain monitoring, data exchange, and capacity sharing; (2) enhance the sharing of data, capacities, and training resources between national monitoring authorities and researchers, as well as identify opportunities for students / Early Career Researchers (ECRs) to engage in mountain monitoring; (3) explore opportunities to enhance the thematic scope of existing monitoring efforts; and, (4) identify potentially high-impact projects that could be conducted collaboratively.

The workshop was well attended by researchers, representatives of national environmental monitoring agencies, and other local institutions. In total, 69 participants attended the workshop, of whom 40 attended in person and 29 online. Participants came from across the region, including Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, Paraguay, Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia. In addition, researchers working in the region or in a co-convening role from the USA, Switzerland, and Romania were in attendance.

The first day of the workshop began with a welcome from the directors of the three co-leading organisations: Carolina Adler, Executive Director of the MRI; Edwin Castellanos, Science Director of the IAI; and Ghisliane Echeverry, Director of IDEAM. Two rounds of flash talk presentations gave insights into the existing research-oriented mountain observatories and data. A final group discussion closed the day by identifying good practices, challenges, and opportunities in monitoring the Andes. Generally, the well-connected networks across the continent have been highlighted as good practices, as well as the standardisation and availability of data. However, the lack of funds and political instability make long-term monitoring more complex and sometimes lead to reliance on lower-cost instruments. Participants saw opportunities for improving communication at all levels, capacity building and training courses, developing employment in database and project management, and collaboration in obtaining funding.

Participants engaged in group discussions (Photo: ©GEO Mountains)

The second day of the workshop was dedicated to the operational perspective, with presentations from three WMO representatives who shared insights on the organisation’s functioning at international and regional level. A round of flash talk presentations given by representatives of national hydrometeorological services, regional organisations, and networks presented their work. In the afternoon, participants split into groups to discuss the accessibility and availability of data and its limitations. This was followed by a panel discussion between the WMO representatives and the rapporteurs from each group, which enhanced the exchange between the operational and the research communities and enabled certain aspects to be explored in more detail. The day concluded with a map-based activity to identify participants’ research sites and discuss the possibility of extending the scope of these existing observatories. All participants were invited to contribute to the GEO Mountains In Situ Inventory.  

Pannel discussion with WMO representatives and rapporteurs of discussion II (top) and participants during the mapping activity (bottom) (Photo: © GEO Mountains)

On the final day, initiatives involved in the use of data to assist decision-making process and policy formation were presented, and the workshop concluded with visits to two regional institutes: IDEAM and the Humboldt Institute, who presented their respective work in the region. The concluding discussions highlighted the difficulty of defining high-impact projects, limited collaboration between the public and private sector, and the lack of resources in terms of human capacities and funding, all of which need to be addressed. Finally, the organisers warmly thanked the co-organisers from CONDESAN, IAI, IDEAM, AmeriGEO, the Humboldt Institute and the WMO, all invited speakers for their excellent contributions, and all participants for sharing their time and expertise.

Visits of the regional institutes: IDEAM (top) and the Humbolt Institute (bottom) (Photo: © GEO Mountains)

GEO Mountains is extremely grateful to support provided by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) under the Adaptation at Altitude Programme for making the workshop possible.  

A complete report of the workshop will be shared publicly in the coming weeks.

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