About MRI
about us
The Mountain Research Initiative is a non-profit organization that promotes global change research in mountain regions across borders and disciplines through connection, communication, and collaboration – with a view to supporting pathways towards sustainable mountain development. 

why mountains matter
Directly or indirectly, mountains play an important role in most of our lives. Covering 25 percent of the planet’s land surface, mountains are home to 12 percent of the world’s population, and the enormous range of ecosystem services they provide are vital to human well-being. Half of humanity’s freshwater, for example, originates in the world’s mountains.

Unfortunately, mountains are also particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate and other global change – with significant implications for human health, safety, and security. If we are to preserve these unique environments and continue to benefit from the resources they offer, sustainable mountain development is essential.

However, mountains are complex social-ecological systems that span biological, social, and physical processes. Therefore, in order to identify appropriate pathways towards sustainable development, an interdisciplinary approach to global change research in mountains is needed.


our vision

We envision a world in which research into global change in mountain regions is conducted across borders and disciplines – with and for society – in order to support pathways towards sustainable mountain development. 

our mission

We believe that by working together we can build a more complete mountain picture and achieve more than an individual can accomplish alone. Our mission is therefore to promote global change research in mountains regions across borders and disciplines through connection, communication, and collaboration. Through working groups, events, online platforms, and communication we bring practitioners and researchers from diverse disciplines and backgrounds together. We work with the mountain research community and society more broadly to identify research priorities and possibilities for common action, and we support this common action by providing targeted funding and administrative assistance. We also strive to keep the research community informed, and work with research organizations and funding agencies to ensure that mountain global change topics are recognized and addressed.

our principles
1. Mountains are unique social-ecological systems
The MRI’s focus on mountains as social-ecological systems is interdisciplinary, and seeks to understand both the function of individual system elements and the cumulative effects of their interaction.

2. The diversity within the mountain research community is an asset
The MRI values the scientific, cultural, and generational diversity of the mountain research community, which reflects the diversity of mountains themselves.

3. Knowledge is produced in many forms by many people
The MRI recognizes the importance of different kinds of knowledge, beyond scientific research, and seeks to promote synergies between them.

4. Knowledge has a social role
The MRI views research as being part of a social process, and values knowledge for its ability to enable action and identify pathways towards more sustainable mountain regions.

5. The progress of global change research in mountains requires connection
The MRI seeks to facilitate interactions among researchers in order to create networks that can accomplish more than individual researchers can achieve on their own.

our goals
1. Researchers working on global change in mountain regions form a more coherent and interactive community.
2. Processes are in place that lead the mountain research community to identify and develop critical research topics.
3. Mountain observations become more systematic, comprehensive, and pertinent.
4. The mountain research community adopts a systems approach to mountain research.
5. Action is taken to support the development of the next generation of researchers interested in global change in mountains.
6. Mountain concerns are visible within existing scientific organizations and events.
7. The mountain research community engages in pertinent policy processes. 

Funding and endorsement 

The MRI is hosted by the Institute of Geography at the University of Bern and funded by the Swiss Academies of Sciences (SCNAT). For projects related to sustainable development and mountains, we receive funding from the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC).

SCNAT logo      image mini         logo unibern

The MRI is a Strategic Partner of Future Earth and a Participating Organization of the Group on Earth Observations.

To find out more about the history of the MRI, take a look at the MRI Founding Report.