Sustainable Mountain Development Supported by the Swiss & Austrians at the Caucasus Mountain Forum

The Caucasus Mountain Forum (CMF) is one of Scientific Network for the Caucasus Mountain Region (SNC-mt)'s star enterprises. The appropriate regional setting of the Caucasus offers a key incentive for organizing biannual regional forums for different stakeholders working in the Caucasus mountain region. The forums serve as an important occasion for scientists and academics, government experts, and specialists to meet, exchange views on opportunities and challenges, and thus seek to improve regional dialogue and contribute to better coordinated and sustainable improvement in the Caucasus region.

“More than ever before we see [here] significant scientific expertise and knowledge related to climate change issues, with deputies with a background in environmental sciences, engineering, physics, climatology and more,” said the Deputy Regional Director of the South Caucasus, Werner Thut, commenting on the opening ceremony of the CMF in Ankara.

Sustainable Mountain Development (SMD) implies a wide range of sectoral topics. It requires the organization and conjoining of diverse scientific disciplines and actors from the public, private and non-governmental domains. It also has implications for intergenerational parity and justice, and additionally stands to crucially benefit the practitioners and decision makers from local to international levels.

“If we go for rational, evidence-based decisions, science and scientists should be heard on a regular basis and without prejudice. This brings me to back to the conference, its purpose and ambitions, notably, the approval of the Caucasus Regional Research Agenda,” Werner Thut said.

One of the main goals of the Caucasus Mountain Forum 2019, organized under the title ‘The Caucasus Regional Research Agenda: Key to Sustainable Regional Development, held on 30 October to 1 November in Ankara, Turkey, is to formally approve the Caucasus Regional Research Agenda (C-RRA). Accordingly, this year’s CMF theme encompassed the subject areas covered in the C-RRA, with a focus on identifying the current state of knowledge in the Caucasus region, key challenges and opportunities, and priority gaps for scientific research and development.

As stated in the catalogue of the forum, the objectives of the Caucasus Mountain Forums are to:

• share the latest scientific findings on SMD in the Caucasus;

• link research, policy-making and practice in the field of SMD;

• showcase scientifically informed, practical actions leading towards sustainability in the Caucasus mountain region;

• provide a forum for promoting a joint regional mountain agenda;

• increase the visibility of the Caucasus region.

Assembling on the achievements of the First Caucasus Mountain Forum (CMF 2016), the members of the SNC-mt Scientific Steering Group agreed that the Mountain Forum should be held repeatedly and systematically to ensure the sustainability of scientific cooperation and exchange of information.

In the new Swiss parliament, politics will meet science on a daily basis. “I would not conclude that this necessarily guarantees fast progress and quick solutions,” Thut said, but noted that Switzerland is committed to promoting sustainable mountain development at the international level. He further conditions that from the Swiss experience, they “have learned that agriculture is often the backbone of sustainable mountain development” and that the Swiss “have an intrinsic interest and a proven track-record in the sustainable development of mountain regions.”

Mr. Thut went on to highlight the questions that enable us to translate scientific results into action and policies:

• How to ensure the transfer of knowledge to government bodies and parliament?

• How to conduct dialogue, inform and collaborate with non-state actors such as NGOs or professional organizations?

• How to structure and re-structure decision-making processes so that relevant knowledge is systematically considered?

The Second Caucasus Mountain Forum trails in the footsteps of CMF 2016 in serving as a crucial prospect for productive communication between scientists, governmental experts and practitioners to discuss opportunities and challenges. Plus, most importantly, to make contributions to the enriched keenness of sustainable development in the Caucasus region.

Its specific goals were to review and approve the Caucasus Regional Research Agenda (C-RRA); share scientific findings and practitioner experiences generated since CMF 2016; enhance the links between research, policymaking and practice in the field of sustainable mountain development; draw the attention of Caucasus-country practitioners to needs and priorities in research and development for a sustainable future in the Caucasus; showcase the latest scientifically informed activities fostering progress towards sustainability in the Caucasus mountain region; and promote sub-regional, regional, and international cooperation, exchange of knowledge and know-how among scientific groups working for sustainable mountain development.

As hosts and organizers, the Turkish delegation said it wished to thank the many committed people, ‘scientists and academics, governmental experts and practitioners, donors, international experts, local communities, and interested members of the general public, in particular from countries of the wider Caucasus region, who helped to organize the event. Special gratitude was expressed to the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), and the United Nations Environment Program and Austrian Development Agency (ADA) for their financial and organizational support.

By Beka Alexishvili

04 November 2019 17:16