New Roads in Rome | The MRI Science Leadership Council Meeting

SLC Group SMALLFollowing a year of exciting developments for the MRI, its Science Leadership Council came together in Rome 8-9 December to evaluate progress, review objectives, and set new priorities for 2018 and beyond.

In her opening words, MRI Executive Director Dr. Carolina Adler welcomed the Science Leadership Council (SLC) and expressed her delight at the opportunity for face-to-face collaboration between such a (usually) geographically dispersed group: “I’m very pleased to be a part of this fantastic global group of mountain researchers, and I look forward to working closely with all of you in future.”

A year of progress
The meeting provided an opportunity to reflect on the developments made by the MRI over the past year, and following Carolina Adler’s appointment as Executive Director in May. These include a new collaboration between MRI and the journal Mountain Research and Development, and Carolina Adler taking on the role of lead author for the ‘High Mountains’ chapter in the IPCC Special Report on Oceans and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate.

Group Workshop SLC
In addition, the MRI has gained new team members, and moved to a new institutional setting within the Swiss Academies of Sciences (SCNAT), where the thematic merger of mountains and landscapes across several international platforms offers new opportunities for cross-thematic dialogue and collaboration. SLC members were also in a reflective mood, each presenting news on research and activities being conducted in cooperation with the MRI since the last SLC meeting in 2016.

Looking to the future
On the second day of the meeting a communications strategy was presented, with the SLC members offering their feedback and contributions in preparation for its roll-out in 2018. One of the key topics also covered was the relationship between the MRI and regional networks. Looking to the future, Carolina Adler stressed that the MRI aims to continue to foster and connect with established regional and international networks with a specific thematic focus in mountain regions.

For 2018-19, three key priorities for SLC-led projects and activities were defined. These were categorized as ‘Education/Key Publications,’ ‘Governance,’ and ‘Mountain Observatories.’ Following an intense workshopping session, during which the SLC members split into three working group clusters, a number of ideas for joint SLC work on these three priorities were developed.

Rolf Weingartner at the SLC meetingThese ideas will be worked on and further defined by each cluster over the course of 2018, with the output of each working group being presented at next year’s SLC meeting. Further details on each working group and their activities will be communicated in the new year. 

In his concluding remarks, Co-Chair of the Mountain Research Initiative Prof. Dr. Rolf Weingartner expressed his hope for ever closer connection between the MRI SLC members in serving the mountain research community and working towards sustainable mountain development. “Now the MRI is established, SLC members have an important leadership role to play – and after this fantastic two-day meeting, I think we have huge potential!”