Challenges for Governing Mountains Sustainably: Insights From a Global Survey

Tucker, Catherine M.; Alcántara-Ayala, Irasema; Gunya, Alexey; Jimenez, Elizabeth; Klein, Julia A.; Xu, Jun; Bigler, Sophie Lena (2021). Challenges for Governing Mountains Sustainably: Insights From a Global Survey. Mountain Research and Development, 41(2), R10-R20. International Mountain Society 10.1659/MRD-JOURNAL-D-20-00080.1

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Governance is increasingly recognized as key to sustainability and human wellbeing in mountain social–ecological systems (MtSES). Mountains present particular challenges for effective governance related to their geographic complexities, status as commons, susceptibility to environmental change, and impacts of external political and socioeconomic processes. This study reports on the results of a global survey of local mountain governance. It explored a range of known governance challenges to discover which are most prevalent and whether relative strength of local governance helps to mitigate these challenges. The study analyzed 75 survey responses across 5 continents from researchers and practitioners who work on mountain governance. Major challenges for governance included contradictory policies, poverty, and the presence of valuable nonrenewable natural resources. Compared with sites with stronger local governance, those with weaker arrangements reported significantly greater prevalence of certain challenges, such as corruption. Yet many challenges did not differ significantly by strength of local governance, implicating external factors instead. This finding points to a need to improve governance across levels to support MtSES sustainability.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


10 Strategic Research Centers > Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)




International Mountain Society


[1265] Mountain Research Initative
[805] Sustainability Governance




Melchior Peter Nussbaumer

Date Deposited:

02 Sep 2021 14:38

Last Modified:

28 Feb 2023 08:03

Publisher DOI:


Related URLs:

Additional Information:

Sophie Lena Bigler: The Mountain Research Initiative, c/o Centre for Development and Environment (CDE), University of Bern




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