Global Change and the World's Mountains-Research Needs and Emerging Themes for Sustainable Development A Synthesis From the 2010 Perth II Conference

Björnsen Gurung, Astrid; Wymann von Dach, Susanne; Price, Martin F.; Aspinell, Richard; Balsiger, Jörg; Baron, Jill S.; Sharma, Eklabya; Greenwood, Greg; Kohler, Thomas (2012). Global Change and the World's Mountains-Research Needs and Emerging Themes for Sustainable Development A Synthesis From the 2010 Perth II Conference. Mountain Research and Development, 32(1), S47-S54. Boulder, Colo.: International Mountain Society 10.1659/MRD-JOURNAL-D-11-00084.S1

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The conference on Global Change and the World’s Mountains held in Perth, Scotland, in 2010 offered a unique opportunity to analyze the state and progress of mountain research and its contribution to sustainable mountain development, as well as to reflect on required reorientations of research agendas. In this paper we provide the results of a three-step assessment of the research presented by 450 researchers
from around the world. First, we determined the state of the art of mountain research and categorized it based on the analytical structure of the Global Land Project (GLP 2005). Second, we identified emerging themes for future research. Finally, we assessed the contribution of mountain research to sustainable development along the lines of the Grand Challenges in Global Sustainability Research (International Council for Science 2010). Analysis revealed that despite the growing recognition of the importance of more integrative research (inter- and transdisciplinary), the research community gathered in Perth still focuses on environmental drivers of change and on interactions within ecological systems. Only a small percentage of current research seeks to enhance
understanding of social systems and of interactions between social and
ecological systems. From the ecological systems perspective, a greater effort is needed to disentangle and assess different drivers of change and to investigate impacts on the rendering of ecosystem services. From the social systems perspective, significant shortcomings remain in understanding the characteristics, trends, and impacts of human movements to, within, and out of mountain areas as a form of global
change. Likewise, sociocultural drivers affecting collective behavior as well as incentive systems devised by policy and decision makers are little understood and require more in-depth investigation. Both the complexity of coupled social– ecological systems and incomplete data sets hinder integrated systems research. Increased understanding of linkages and
feedbacks between social and ecological systems will help to identify
nonlinearities and thresholds (tipping points) in both system types. This
presupposes effective collaboration between ecological and social sciences. Reflections on the Grand Challenges in Sustainability Research put forth by the International Council for Science (2010) reveal the need to intensify research on effective responses and innovations. This will help to achieve sustainable development in mountain regions while
maintaining the core competence of mountain research in forecasting and

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


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

UniBE Contributor:

Wymann von Dach, Susanne, Kohler, Thomas


500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology
900 History > 910 Geography & travel




International Mountain Society




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Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:43

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:13

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URI: (FactScience: 225577)

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