The Mountain Forum was created a decade ago, as an outcome of the Rio Earth Summit, as a unique global network for information exchange, mutual support, and advocacy of equitable and ecologically sustainable mountain development and conservation. Since its inception it has become a unique network of networks for sustainable mountain development (SMD).
The Mountain Forum operates under a decentralized scheme through regional nodes hosted by centers of excellence worldwide, including the North American Node, hosted by the Banff Centre in Canada, the Latin American node (InfoAndina), hosted by the International Potato Center (CIP) in Peru, the African Mountain Forum, hosted by ICRAF-AHI in Uganda, and the Asia Pacific Mountain Network (APMN), hosted by ICIMOD in Nepal (Figure 1). The activities of the network are coordinated by the global Mountain Forum Secretariat, hosted by ICIMOD in Nepal since 2003.
The Mountain Forum is governed by an independent Board, composed of a group of representatives from the founding organizations including The Mountain Institute (TMI), the International Potato Center (CIP), the Banff Centre, ICRAF, and ICIMOD. Elected representatives from 3 regions—Africa, Asia, and Latin America—serve as members of the Board for a 3-year period each. The governance body meets annually in different mountain regions to revise progress reports and set strategic guidelines for the network as a whole.
A decade of sharing
The Mountain Forum started the MF Global Information Server Node (GISN), hosted at TMI in West Virginia (USA), in 1997. Two regional nodes were created upon its inception: the Asia Pacific Mountain Network (APMN), hosted by ICIMOD, and InfoAndina, hosted by the International Potato Center (CIP).
In 2001, an Interim Secretariat (IS) for the Mountain Forum was hosted by ICIMOD in Nepal.
In 2002, the Mountain Forum supported the momentum behind the International Year of Mountains (IYM2002) through global stakeholder E-consultations (High Summit, Bishkek Global Mountain Summit). The same year, MF facilitated dialogue for the inception of the Mountain Partnership in Johannesburg (Rio+10).
In 2003, the Global Information Server Node was merged with the Interim Secretariat and both were hosted by ICIMOD in Nepal. In the same year, the North American Mountain Forum (NAMF) was hosted by the Banff Centre in the Rocky Mountains of Canada. In the same year, the European Mountain Forum was created and hosted by IUCN (France).
In 2004, the African Node was created and hosted by ICRAF-AHI in Uganda.
The Mountain Forum led the global dialogue among Mountain Partnership members. As a result of this dialogue, the “Cusco Framework for Action” was approved at the Second Plenary of the Mountain Partnership in October 2004 in Cusco, Peru.
2006: 10th Anniversary celebrations
The Mountain Forum celebrated its 10th Anniversary with local celebrations in Banff in May 2006, and in early 2007 an Open House for Members was organized in Kathmandu, Nepal on the occasion of its 10th Anniversary.
In April 2006, a global E-consultation was organized in the context of the 10th Anniversary celebrations. A large number of members from 41 different countries shared perspectives about the past, present, and future of the Mountain Forum.
During the past few years, the Mountain Forum Secretariat in Nepal has developed a modern platform for services for its membership worldwide. MF information services include the following:
Throughout its decade of existence, the Mountain Forum has provided services for thousands of members from 108 countries and a wide base of sectors, including the academic, private, and public sectors. Presently the network has a membership base of nearly 4000 individuals and 500 organizations worldwide. A large percentage of our membership belongs to the research (45%) and NGO sectors (24%) (Figure 2).
Global multilingual e-conferences
These conferences foster debates on specialized issues, for example:
Mountain Forum online library
The online library is a specialized catalogue of SMD documents, including:
Mountain Forum website www.mtnforum.org
Advocacy of the “Mountain Agenda”
MF supports its partners' Mountain Agenda through focused policy debates, advocacy, and increased awareness of SMD.
MF fosters capacity building in SMD advocacy among members.
MF participates in Global Events such as “Women of the Mountains” (Utah, USA, March 2007), and was mentioned in the Orem Declaration of Mountain Women.
MF publications (MF Annual Report, MF Bulletins) are distributed widely.
MF conducted an E-consultation on the Draft UN Resolution on SMD for CSD-15 in April 2007.
Challenges in the globalized world
Frequent natural disasters have occurred during the past few months as a result of global changes including global warming. In Asia, heavy floods affected Nepal, India, and China. These floods have devastating effects on people around the world. Mountain Forum offers a platform to raise awareness about these disasters through our website and regional discussion lists. The July edition of MF Bulletin covered the important issue of “Melting Mountains,” including a selection of studies and reports sent by our members. The bulletin is available for downloading from the website in PDF format, and is being printed for wide distribution among our membership.
The second half of 2007 marks the beginning of a transition for the Mountain Forum Secretariat. With the support of Dr. Andreas Schild, ICIMOD Director General and MF Board Chairman, a selection panel composed of representatives from the Board and the Node Managers is now at work on the selection of the next Executive Secretary of the Mountain Forum, who will be designated by the end of October 2007. After nearly 3 years with the Mountain Forum Secretariat, and nearly 7 years with the Latin American Mountain Forum, I am optimistic about the future of our network. In the framework of the international mountain agenda, Mountain Forum is renewing its collaboration linkages with key stakeholders, including MRD and the Centre for Development and Environment (CDE), the Adelboden Group, and the Mountain Partnership. MF will continue to provide services to stakeholders, including dissemination of information through its global discussion lists, dissemination of “calls for articles” for MRD, and specialized dialogue platforms such as the E-consultation conducted in April 2007 for the draft resolution on sustainable mountain development for UNCSD.
We believe innovative partnerships and collaboration among stakeholders are the best way to face these challenges and achieve effective development in a globalized world. We reiterate our gratitude to the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) for their continued support of Mountain Forum throughout its decade of existence, and we look forward to continued achievements of our network on behalf of the welfare of mountain communities worldwide.