MRI News

The 18th Swiss Geosciences Meeting (SGM) took place virtually earlier this month, offering a series of scientific symposia on the diverse spectrum of current research in geosciences, encompassing the lithosphere, the hydrosphere, the cryosphere, the biosphere, the atmosphere, and the anthroposphere. Among the sessions on offer was the cross-cutting theme for the session titled 'Mountains as Contexts of Global Change', co-convened by the MRI, the Interdisciplinary Center for Mountain Research (CIRM), and the SCNAT Forum Landscapes, Alps and Parks (FoLAP).

Mountain regions offer concrete contexts through which challenges and opportunities of global change are experienced, perceived, and enacted. Combining multiple and diverse knowledge streams across the natural and social sciences, accounting for the complexity of social-ecological interactions, are increasingly called for in mountain research. So, how are we tracking along this imperative, and what exemplars of this type of integrative research are currently being undertaken by Swiss-based and other geoscientists working in mountains, worldwide?

In an article published this month in the journal Mountain Research and Development (MRD), we outline future directions aimed at supporting and further developing the Mountain Research Initiative (MRI) network – building on the considerable social and intellectual wealth fostered for our changing mountains since the MRI’s beginnings over 20 years ago.

Since our origins in the 1990s, and with the founding of our Coordination Office in 2001, the MRI has striven to achieve a vision in which research to identify and understand drivers and processes of global change in mountains is promoted and linked across disciplines and mountain regions worldwide. Through the MRI Coordination Office’s convening role, over the course of our history we – as a network – have initiated numerous fruitful research collaborations, collectively generating and synthesizing knowledge on global change in mountains that also supports decisions and actions to enable sustainable development.

At the suggestion of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, MRI Chair Professor Jörg Balsiger has joined a high-level panel of international experts to guide the Environment of Peace initiative.

The Environment of Peace (EP2022) project is an ambitious new initiative that aims to increase global understanding of the impacts that simultaneous environmental crises are having on peace and insecurity. It will analyse the drivers of and linkages between environmental change and its social dimensions—examining not just climate change but the consequences of issues such as the loss of biodiversity, water insecurity, and land degradation. It will explore the challenges and opportunities ahead, presenting clear and practical recommendations that can be adopted at different levels of decision-making.

The next EGU General Assembly, traditionally held each spring in Vienna, Austria, will take place entirely online as vEGU21: Gather Online (#vEGU21) from 19–30 April 2021. This virtual event will bring together geoscientists from all over the world at one meeting covering all disciplines of the Earth, planetary, and space sciences.

The deadline for early registration is 31 March 2021. 

The American Association of Geographers (AAG) Annual Meeting will be held from 7–11 April 2021. Attendees including geographers, GIS specialists, environmental scientists, and other leaders will share and discuss the latest in research and applications in geography, sustainability, and GIScience. 

Abstract submission is now open and the deadline for all submissions is 19 February 2021. 

On 14 October, during the Belmont Forum’s first ever virtual plenary, the Mountain Research Initiative was voted in as the Forum’s newest partner organization.

Established in 2009, the Belmont Forum is a partnership of funding organizations, international science councils, and regional consortia committed to the advancement of transdisciplinary science. The Belmont Forum’s operations are guided by the Belmont Challenge, a vision document that encourages international transdisciplinary research that provides knowledge for understanding, mitigating, and adapting to global environmental change. 

From 17 to 28 August, over 250 experts from 50 countries joined 20 virtual meetings to continue preparations for the IPCC Working Group (WG) II contribution to the sixth assessment report (AR6), which includes a Cross-Chapter Paper on Mountains. The virtual meetings were convened as a means to continue the report writing momentum despite COVID-19 restrictions, and bring the lead author team together to discuss and coordinate their contributions in the lead-up to the submission of the Second Order Draft (SOD) of the report, due 6 November 2020.

Over 250 scientists and experts in the fields of climate change impacts, adaptation and vulnerability met virtually from 17 to 28 August 2020 to advance work on the contribution of Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6).  The aim of the virtual meetings was to ensure coherence across the entire report and to facilitate such coordination across chapters so that all report objectives are met, despite the enormous challenges authors and scientists are facing in the current COVID-19 crisis, according to a press release issued by the IPCC in the lead up to these virtual meetings.

Last month, over 1,200 participants registered and connected from 37 different countries to participate in the inaugural virtual conference on 'Climate Change, Health and Mountain Ecosystems and their Governance in Support of Sustainable Development in the Tropical Andes Region - Central America (Andes +)', hosted by the Cluster of Cooperation Conéctate A+ network. The conference was a key opportunity to connect and foster a virtual dialogue and exchange, despite these challenging times for research and collaboration due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Within the framework of the Conéctate A+ network – and facilitated by CONDESAN, the Mountain Research Initiative (MRI) and the University of Zurich – the online conference took place over two days from 7 to 8 July 2020. The objective of this conference was to facilitate an exchange between relevant disciplinary and interdisciplinary researchers, and showcase evidence of practices that help overcome barriers that impede the successful implementation of policies in favour of sustainable development, human health, ecosystem protection, and adaptation to climate change in the Andes+ region. Through this event, the Conéctate A+ network sought to promote prospects and ideas for collaboration, advance current knowledge debates, and stocktake and showcase the accumulated experience on the conference topics among the different communities of practice in the Andes+ region.

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