Can the green economy enhance sustainable mountain development? The potential role of awareness building

Rueff, Henri; Rahim, Inam-ur; Kohler, Thomas; Mahat, Tek Jung; Ariza, Clara (2014). Can the green economy enhance sustainable mountain development? The potential role of awareness building. Environmental science & policy, 49, pp. 85-94. Elsevier 10.1016/j.envsci.2014.08.014

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Mountain socio-ecological systems produce valuable but complex ecosystem services resulting from biomes stratified by altitude and gravity. These systems are often managed and shaped by smallholders whose marginalization is exacerbated by uncertainties and a lack of policy attention. Human–environment interfaces in mountains hence require holistic policies. We analyse the potential of the Global Mountain Green Economy Agenda (GMGEA) in building awareness and thus prompting cross-sectoral policy strategies for sustainable mountain development. Considering the critique of the green economy presented at the Rio + 20 conference, we argue that the GMGEA can nevertheless structure knowledge and inform regional institutions about the complexity of mountain socio-ecological systems, a necessary pre-condition to prompt inter-agency collaboration and cross-sectoral policy formulation. After reviewing the content of the GMGEA, we draw on two empirical cases in the Pakistani and Nepali Himalayas. First, we show that lack of awareness has led to a sequence of fragmented interventions with unanticipated, and unwanted, consequences for communities. Second, using a green economy lens, we show how fragmentation could have been avoided and cross-sectoral policies yielded more beneficial results. Project fragmentation reflects disconnected or layered policies by government agencies, which inherently keep specialized agendas and have no incentive to collaborate. Awareness makes agencies more likely to collaborate and adopt cross-sectoral approaches, allowing them to target more beneficiaries, be more visible, and raise more funds. Nevertheless, we also identify four factors that may currently still limit the effect of the GMGEA: high costs of inter-agency collaboration, lack of legitimacy of the green economy, insufficiently-secured smallholder participation, and limited understanding of the mechanisms through which global agendas influence local policy.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


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

UniBE Contributor:

Kohler, Thomas








Stephan Schmidt

Date Deposited:

30 Mar 2015 11:54

Last Modified:

26 Jun 2016 02:00

Publisher DOI:





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