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Mountains for Europe’s future: Putting mountains on the Horizon 2020 agenda

Posted by on in CH-AT, the Swiss Austrian Alliance
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Lobbying for mountain research with the European funding agencies is one of the current projects of the CH-AT coordination office in Bern. In two meetings in Vienna and Bern, the core group of a “Mountain Research Advocacy Network” developed an ambitious plan for 2015. 

Austria and Switzerland as mountainous countries are spearheading the effort to ensure that mountain research topics have a more prominent role in future funding calls. One of the strategic objectives of the Swiss-Austrian Alliance for Mountain Research is to “Secure and develop the role of European research towards a sustainable development of mountain regions in an international context.” If we are successful, this would mean that mountains be recognized for their important role in the European economy and generally for the European lowlands.

This is a very big objective for a very small office! Thus, in 2014, we called on the MRI Europe network, which represents nearly 2’000 mountain researchers from all European countries, for help tackling this challenge. Many people answered the call and expressed interest in lobbying for mountain research within the EU. These scientists, who are well established within their research communities and have good contacts to the Horizon2020 contact points in their countries, form the informal “Mountain Research Advocacy Network”. The active core group as of April 2015 consists of Bulent Acma (TK), Bernat Claramunt (ES), Thomas Dax (AT), Igor Jelen (IT), Robert Kanka (SK), Gaël Le Roux (F), Martin Price (UK), Thomas Scheurer (CH), and Rolf Weingartner (CH).  

This group set to work in April 2015 and started to jointly write a strategic document, highlighting how mountain research can contribute to solving the societal challenges as defined in Horizon 2020. An initial meeting took place on 15 April in Vienna; two weeks later, the second half of the core group met in Bern.

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First core group meeting 15 April, Vienna: Robert Kanka (SK), Claudia Drexler (CH, moderation), Rolf Weingartner (CH), Thomas Dax (AT), Erin Gleeson (CH, notes and moderation), Igor Jelen (IT) 

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Second core group meeting 30 April, Bern: Claudia Drexler (moderation), Thomas Scheurer (CH), Martin Price (UK), Bulent Acma (TK), Gaël Le Roux (F), Bernat Claramunt (ES)

The outcome of these two meetings is an ambitious plan: 

A strategic paper with the tentative title “Mountains for Europe’s Future” should be ready by early 2016. This will be presented at the Roundtable “Key research themes for European mountains” at the “Mountains of our Future Earth Conference” at Perth in October 2015, and then fed into the Horizon 2020 consultation process to influence the 2018-2019 work programmes. 

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One of the many flip-charts from the Bern meeting: descriptive slogans for each of the 7 societal challenges as defined in Horizon 2020 make the link to potential mountain research topics. Right: Bernat Claramunt (Researcher at CREAF) with the timetable up to the presentation of the draft paper at the Perth Conference in October.

For you: If you are interested in supporting this effort, please let us know! 

- Have you ever thought that mountains should be mentioned as being especially relevant to one of Horizon 2020 societal challenges? 
- Do you have clear ideas about where (or in which programme section of Horizon 2020) your specific research questions could fit? 
- Do you feel like being consulted for feedback once we have compiled a draft strategic research agenda? 

Let us know by sending an email to drexler@giub.unibe.ch

Yours sincerely,

Claudia Drexler
Swiss Austrian Alliance Coordinator
Mountain Research Initiative
http://www.chat-mountainalliance.eu

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With a background in geography and corporate communications, Claudia is ideally positioned to work at the nexus of science and communication. Since 2005, Claudia has been the Scientific Communication and Event Manager of the Mountain Research Initiative (MRI). In this position, she has developed a range of communication tools for MRI, including the website, newsflashes and event communications. In 2010 and 2011, Claudia worked on the EU-funded mountain.TRIP project to develop exemplary communication tools for translating research results into practice. Since 2014, she is responsible for MRI Europe and the Swiss Austrian Alliance (CH-AT). Within CH-AT, she is leading a Mountain Research Advocacy group in the preparation of a Strategic Research Agenda “Mountains for Europe’s Future”.

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