Mountain Governance

Governance of mountainous regions faces pressing challenges that carry implications for the future sustainability of human society. Mountain peoples and environments appear especially vulnerable to negative impacts from global change processes, yet provide invaluable benefits: They generate key ecosystem services, offer instructive examples of sociocultural resilience, and retain high biocultural diversity. This Working Group aims to address the critical need for better understanding and information regarding mountain governance challenges and opportunities.

Key Working Group Details

The Mountain Governance Working Group (MGWG) was created in 2017. Building on the research activities of the Working Group and its members, a revised Mission Statement has been produced with expanded objectives and a new list of topics. The Working Group has set short, medium and long-term objectives during the next third phase: 2023 (transitional), 2024-2025, and beyond.


  1. Identify common problems, risks, and challenges that undermine or impede effective governance for sustainability of mountain social-ecological systems;
  2. Analyse contexts and principles that appear to be associated with governance successes for fostering sustainability of mountain systems, and explore how promising cases are addressing their governance challenges, and to what extent these could be scaled to different mountain regions and their limitations;
  3. Integrate and enhance the geospatial representation of the socio-ecological data on web-based-GIS platforms to facilitate governance decision-making in the light of human and physical data/patterns.

Working Group Lead


  • Catherine Tucker, University of Florida, USA
  • Irasema Alcántara-Ayala, National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), Mexico
  • Alexey Gunya, Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia
  • Elizabeth Jiménez Zamora, CIDES- Universidad Mayor de San Andres, Bolivia
  • Julia A. Klein, Colorado State University, USA
  • Xu Jun, Sichuan University, China

Scope / Topics of Governance in Mountain Regions

  • Political ecology
  • Socio-ecology
  • [Governance of] Biodiversity, commons, and ecosystem services
  • Adaptive governance and climate change
  • Water governance and watershed management
  • [Governance and] spatial strategies (landscape and land use)
  • Hazards and disaster risk reduction
  • Gender and governance
  • Geo-databases and information for governance
  • Mapping and mountain places
  • [Governance of] tourism
  • [Governance and] protected areas and heritage resources
  • Governing open spaces  
  • [Governance and] sustainability — historical and contemporary case studies and perspectives
  • Governance knowledge production and exchange
  • Sustainability indicators and geo-representation
  • Accessibility and remoteness
  • Boundaries and regulatory spaces — international (trans-boundary), administrative (regional, municipal, communal), watersheds, etc
  • Laws and regulations, and indigenous and customary practices
  • Decentralisation and autonomy in mountain regions
  • Governing spaces of mobile communities
  • Mountains as transitional geographies — transformations and transitions
  • Conventions/treaties, regionalism, and governance
  • Public-private partnerships and collaborative governance
  • Theories of governance

Outputs and Achievements to Date

Planned Activities and Outputs

Short-term Objectives: 2023 (transitional)

  • Invite the current members of Mountain Governance Working Group (MGWG) and MRI’s team to provide their contribution/comments on this Mission Statement document [completed with the publication of the Mission Statement];
  • Expand the membership of the MGWG through 1-2-1 invites by the current members and MRI’s network;
  • Organise an online event/seminar to introduce and discuss the MGWG’s short/mid/long term objectives and promote its membership;
  • Explore collaboration opportunities with other MRI’s working groups in the light of the above scope / topics of interest, e.g., Mountain Resilience;
  • Build on the experience of the ‘Global Online Survey of Local Mountain Governance’ to initiate new surveys;
  • Update the online Mountain Governance bibliography (rolling basis) — led by Catherine Tucker;
  • Publish a paper on natural hazards based on the survey conducted by the MGWG — led by Irasema Alcántara-Ayala
  • Discuss how to better promote the joint-activities facilitated by the MGWG and conducted by its members, e.g., social media/online#, presentations, publications, news/updates, etc.

Medium-term Objectives: 2024-2025

  • Elect global mountain regions’ representatives from the members of MGWG — on the event of the number of members reaching a given threshold and diversity to avoid discrepancies in global representation, e.g., plus 20 to 25 members (for example, Andes, Himalayas, Tibet, Hindu-Kush, Pamirs, Alps, Carpathian, Pyrenees, Ural, Altai, Kanto & Jap. Alps, Caucasus, Taurus, Zagros, Atlas, Hajar, Ethiopian highlands, etc);
  • Develop partnerships with mountain research institutes, working groups, projects, etc (e.g., Future Earth’s Earth System Governance Project) to design and conduct different global online survey(s) to address multi-dimensional governance challenges, e.g., respondents: communities, governing bodies, experts, private sector, etc;
  • Continue the MGWG’s participation in international and MRI events, e.g., conferences, seminars, workshops, etc;
  • Organise quarterly or semi-annual meetings for the members of the MGWG to share knowledge and discuss the on-going and future activities;
  • Capitalise on the knowledge produced by the members of the MGWG in their focus pilot-regions to synthesise comparative expert-based governance dimensions through, e.g., internal focus-groups, surveys, etc (to be initiated by the group’s members in collaboration with other groups and networks).

Medium to Long-term Objectives: 2024-2025 and Beyond

  • Share and disseminate the results of the global surveys conducted by the MGWG through a web-based-GIS — to act as a platform for information for socio-ecological data for governance of mountain regions, and link it to other MRI projects, e.g., GeoMountains;
  • Organise a summer school for postgraduate students on Mountain Governance with the assistance of MRI and other members’ partner institutions;
  • Strengthen the network of the MGWG with the governing bodies and experts in global mountain regions through sharing updates on the group’s activities, invites to the group’s discussions, etc.

MG News

Reframing a Global Multifaceted Mountain Governance (17 May 2023)

Reimagining the future of mountain governance is a pressing challenge that the Mountain Governance Working Group (MGWG) of the MRI is actively addressing through research, collaboration, and partnership-building across various mountain ranges worldwide. Read more here.

Challenges for Governing Mountains Sustainability: Insights From a Global Survey (27 July 2021)

What are the main challenges that impede sustainable mountain governance at the local level? Research undertaken by the MRI’s Mountain Governance Working Group seeks to shed light on this important question. Read more here.

Updates from the MRI Working Groups (24 February 2021)

Despite the challenges of 2020, and 2021 so far, the five MRI Working Groups have exciting updates to report! Read more here.

Mountain Governance Working Group Represented MRI at the International Mountain Conference 2019 (30 September 2019)

Members of the working group represented MRI at the International Mountain Conference 2019, Innsbruck, Austria, delivering presentations, posters and participating in a range of sessions. Read more here.

Mountain Governance Gains Attention at International Conferences (23 September 2019)

The MRI Mountain Governance Working Group explores challenges and opportunities for improving effective and sustainable governance of mountain social-ecological systems. In recent months 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. Read more here.

How to Join

As community-led activities, these Working Groups are open to anyone from the MRI network  to participate and contribute to the Working Group’s work plan. Early career researchers (typically up to five years after attaining a postgraduate degree), women, researchers, and practitioners from developing countries and less represented mountain regions are particularly encouraged to join and participate. Please contact the Working Group leads for information on joining:

Ahmed Shams, Durham University; University of Oxford, UK | Visit Webpage | SPR Webpage

Subscribe to the Mountain Governance Working Group mailing list here.

Images by: Ahmed Shams.