Coming Together for Sustainable Summits: MRI Scoping Workshop & Networking Event Held
SSC 18 workshop cover imageOn the 15 June in Chamonix, France – directly following the Sustainable Summits Conference 2018 – the MRI convened a day-long event to discuss ‘An agenda for sustainable mountaineering, mountain tourism, and recreation: identifying research needs, projects, and partnership opportunities.’

The Sustainable Summits Conference 2018 (SSC 2018), held 12-14 June 2018 in Chamonix, France, brought together researchers, practitioners, public and private sectors, mountaineers, and the general public to reflect on some of the key questions that hang over the sustainability of mountaineering and mountain tourism and recreation. In a complex context of global change in mountain environments, including the effects of climate change and demographic change, it was a timely and important event.

In light of this opportunity to connect with relevant stakeholders from the mountaineering and mountain tourism and recreation communities, the Mountain Research Initiative (MRI), with the participating support of the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation (UIAA), the International Federation of Mountain Guides Associations (IFMGA), GRIDA, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the Petzl Foundation, convened a one-day scoping and networking workshop event immediately following the SSC 2018.

SSC 18 workshop discussionA unique opportunity for exchange
This event was a chance for participants to continue some of the important conversations started as part of the SSC 2018 – and to discuss concrete project ideas and research avenues that align with the needs of the mountaineering community in the context of mountain tourism and recreation. Participants came from various institutions and from a variety of countries, and with diverse professional training and academic backgrounds. A good mix of academics, practitioners, and members of general public interested in the topic ensured a dynamic discussion that was also grounded in experiences had in the field and in different mountain regions and settings. The workshop was conducted in both plenary and breakout group sessions.

A unique feature of this workshop was the opportunity to have participants that would not normally be brought together all in one location to deliberate on the joint co-production of knowledge; in this case, to exchange experiences and to make recommendations on what they perceive as being important research areas that are not yet well addressed, or not well synthesised and communicated by the mountain research community for application purposes.

Risks and recommendations
Recommendations made by workshop participants centred largely on the need to continue to foster spaces to exchange, learn, debate, and deliberate solutions to issues such as waste – one of the most chronic and overwhelming concerns for sustainable mountain development voiced by this group, and one which sits within human agency to confront.

SSC 18 workshop group picEmerging issues of concern were voiced around the threat of climate change to access and safety, and the economic ramifications for mountain communities. The changing nature of risk perception and self-determination, accountability, and management in these increasingly challenging conditions were of key concern. Likewise, the voices of locals were highlighted as being of importance, such as those that support mountain-based tourism in remote areas, including porters and expedition staff that reside in local mountain villages.

Based on the rich input received at this workshop, the mountain research community is invited to build upon these priorities and to engage in connecting and synthesising existing knowledge across experiences and disciplines, setting a baseline from which gaps could be identified and ideas for application explored.

The full workshop report is available to view and download here.