With a view to its next phase beyond 2004, the Mountain Forum (MF) convened a Strategic Planning Workshop in Kathmandu, Nepal, in late April 2004. The Workshop was preceded by a 2-day meeting of all MF node managers. It was carefully prepared, based on an internal MF Brainstorming Retreat in January that considered the achievements of MF so far; MF's mission for the period 2005–2007; collaboration with the new International Mountain Partnership (IPSDMR); long-term funding strategy; and strategic alliances. A subsequent Strategic Planning Concept Paper summarized MF's strengths: regional and global e-conferences; quality of content and moderation in discussion lists; free accessibility; and the linking of different levels of society and sectors. MF also conducted a survey of its membership in April as a further input. The survey revealed very positive support for MF's information and experience-sharing network services and for its archives and online library.
Building on this background, the Workshop pursued an agenda that included an analysis of MF's current situation, achievements and stakeholders; a review of its vision, purpose and values; and consideration of long-term strategic objectives and priorities for action. The first day featured presentations by an invited group of MF stakeholders, including Mountain Research and Development, which was represented by its Managing Editor. MRD proposed closer collaboration with MF, specifically in terms of: publication of MF e-conferences of interest to policy- and decision-makers; possible publication by MF of all back issues of MRD in the MF online library; and publication of news and initiatives of the International Mountain Partnership, in collaboration with MF. It was agreed that MRD could serve as a final record of important MF events. For its part, MF proposed publication of MRD abstracts and lead articles on the MF web site.
The Workshop sessions were admirably managed by the MF team at ICIMOD and a facilitator especially hired for the event. The approximately 30 participants and stakeholders present represented a good global cross-section of organizations concerned with mountain issues. All were well prepared to discuss the most important topics on the agenda—MF's mission and its future strategic objectives. There was broad agreement that MF is well positioned to continue and to enhance doing what it does best, and that its strategic future will be closely linked to the International Mountain Partnership, while it simultaneously retains its own distinct identity.