Assessment of Sustainable Mountain Development

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Currently, this project is seeking expert opinions regarding a subset of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) indicators that are especially relevant to sustainable mountain development (SMD). As data for SMD is always a limiting factor, and as data for the SDG indicators will anyway be collected by individual countries, our best chance to make progress with assessing SMD is to link our SMD assessment efforts with the SDGs. A key challenge in this regard is to ensure that SDG data can be mountain-disaggregated.

CE events2


2017 events TBA

CE background


This work is being done in the context of the Swiss Development Cooperation's "Promoting Sustainable Mountain Development for Global Change (SMD4GC)" program. MRI is a subcontracted partner of the University of Bern’s Centre for Development and Environment, one of the main SMD4GC partners.

The origin of this effort lies in the unfortunate lack of effort expended between the First Earth Summit in 1992 and Rio+20 Earth Summit in 2012 on quantifying the state of environmental, economic and social capital in mountain regions. There have been only two attempts to generate quantitative statements with respect to mountain regions globally: a report by FAO in 2002 (Huddleston et al. 2003) and another by UNEP (UNEP WCMC 2002). In both cases, the authors stopped well short of a comprehensive assessment of the state of sustainable development. If for no other reason than the age of these reports, it would be useful to update these reports. There will certainly be important dimensions of environmental, economic and social capital for which we do not yet have data, but specifying those gaps is a first step toward filling them.

An assessment of the three pillars of sustainable development in mountains goes well beyond what MRI itself can do. Consequently, MRI will convene scientific experts to define what can and should be done with respect to data on sustainable development in mountains.


  • Clarification of current assessment activities;
  • Definition of a globally appropriate comprehensive and quantitative method with indicators;
  • Specification of regionally important policy questions and their relationship to global approach;
  • Evaluation of available regional and global data;
  • Establishment of basic GIS and data delivery protocols, using existing purveyors to the extent possible;
  • Specify new datasets to be developed by third parties and made available to all;
  • Translate the global assessment framework into regionally specific terms and questions.

CE milestones


Sessions and Roundtables at Perth III - Mountains of our Future Earth conference in Perth, Scotland.

  • Current assessments of Sustainable Mountain Development - Presentations
  • Assessment of Sustainable Mountain Development: Measures of Social Capital - Roundtable
  • Assessment of Sustainable Mountain Development: Measures of Economic Capital - Roundtable
  • Guidelines for Future Assessments of Sustainable Mountain Development – Roundtable

Session at the Mountain Futures conference in Kunming, China.

  • Assessment of Sustainable Mountain Development (existing and proposed assessments; how to ensure salience, credibility and legitimacy)

Side event at the 2016 World Mountain Forum in Mbale, Uganda.

  • Assessing Sustainable Mountain Development (a review of assessment efforts to date; discussion about how to move forward)

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If you are interested in contributing to the development of this campaign, please contact Carolina Adler at