It has been more than two months since Mountains 2016 took place in Bragança, Portugal. The outcomes and impacts of the conference were many and all of them significant. Mountains 2016 included the X European Mountain Convention (X EMC), dedicated to “Mountains’ vulnerability to climate change”, and the 1st International Conference on Research for Sustainable Development in Mountain Regions (1st ICRSDMR), dedicated to “Ecosystem services and sustainable development”.
X European Mountain Convention
The X EMC (3 to 5 October 2016) brought to Bragança around 260 mountain actors (researchers, farmers, environmentalists, elected representatives from local and regional authorities, representatives of chambers of commerce and development agencies) to debate climate change adaptation in mountain areas. The X EMC presented a state-of-the-art of climate change in mountain areas in Europe from scientific, institutional and financial perspectives and, most importantly, promoted a broad debate on how people and particular mountain sectors can deal with climate change and how experience and technical knowledge can been used to provide solutions to adapt to and mitigate climate change.
The X EMC produced a series of political and practical recommendations concerning agriculture and forestry, sustainable energy and water, biodiversity and protected areas, sustainable tourism, accessibility through transport and Information and Communications Technologies and the innovative management of natural hazards that Euromontana and all the members of the association are currently promoting at regional, national, and European levels. These recommendation and the commitment of Euromontana towards a clean, competitive, resilient and low carbon economy for live mountains in Europe and towards a better integration of the mountain dimension in the national contributions of the countries following the Paris Agreement are part of the “Declaration of Bragança”, one of the most significant outcomes of Mountains 2016.
1st International Conference on Research for Sustainable Development in Mountain Regions
The 1st ICRSDMR (5 to 7 October 2016) was a major success from a scientific perspective due to the high quality of the keynote addresses (by Julia Klein, Georg Gratzer, Harald Bugmann, Greg Greenwood, and Martin F. Price) and oral and poster presentations and due to the diversity and relevance of the topics covered. Symposia (16 topics) and open sessions (4 topics) presented at the conference covered a very wide range of subjects which reflects the high complexity of mountain social-ecological systems and of mountain research, however, focused on major topics such as land use change, adaptation to climate change in agriculture and forestry, sustainable agriculture and forestry management, and hazards and risks in mountain systems. Particular and novel topics addressed included social work, animal traction, and food chemistry of mountains products.
Although the near 200 delegates in the conference came from 32 countries, researchers from Portugal and Brazil had a major role in the 1st ICRSDMR, leading a series of symposia in the fields of agriculture, forestry, soil conservation, land use change, mountain products, among many others, and participating in other symposia and sessions.
Several informal meetings and bilateral contacts took place during the event, including the MRI Europe Leadership group meeting, multiple contacts among Portuguese and Brazilian researchers, and the contacts with and within particular research groups submitting symposia (e.g. pasturelands, adaptive forestry, geomorphology, social work, animal traction). Two journals promoted meetings during the event with actual and potential authors of special issues based on the conference. Field trips and a series of social events were particularly fruitful in terms of contacts among researchers and institutions. LuMont, the Lusophony mountain research network, was debated among participants of Portuguese-speaking countries in the last day of the event.
Mountains 2016 contributed definitively to place CIMO/IPB and Embrapa among mountain research institutions at the international level. More importantly, through the LuMont network, the conference placed mountains and mountain research in Portuguese-speaking countries within the international research community. This was a strong contribution of the conference to the international mountain research arena since countries like Portugal, Brazil, Angola, Cape Verde, or Mozambique have not traditionally been involved in international initiatives on mountain research. To this has greatly contributed the Mountain Research Initiative (MRI) through support given to the establishment and maintenance of the LuMont network.
At the national and regional levels, Mountains 2016 raised awareness of climate change adaptation in mountains, in particular in Portugal where it took place, but also in many other areas. Through the participation of the President of FCT, the Portuguese national funding agency for science, research and technology, and of the Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education of Portugal, Mountains 2016 promoted the inclusion of mountain research in the national research agenda in Portugal. As proposed by the Minister of Science during the closing ceremony and later in a private meeting, the “Montesinho research mountain” project will be implemented in the Bragança and funded by the Ministry of Science and other Ministries. This project is currently under development and also in the process of expansion to other mountains areas in the country, namely the “Serra da Estrela” mountains in the center of mainland Portugal, and the “Pico” mountain in Azores. These projects are based on science and knowledge but involve the entire community of mountain actors in these areas.
Mountains 2016 achieved all the objectives set initially, more than two years ago, when CIMO/IPB, Euromontana, Embrapa, the UNESCO Chair in Sustainable Mountain Development at the University of Highlands and Islands, ADVID, the Municipality of Bragança, and all the other organization partners and sponsors started this project. Throughout the entire preparation process and the organization of the event itself, Mountains 2016 put the adaptation to climate change in mountain areas in local, national, and European climate change and development agendas, put mountains in the Portuguese research agenda and put Portuguese-speaking countries in the international mountain research map. More importantly, Mountains 2016 put the scientific community and all mountain stakeholders into contact during 5 days, promoting fruitful interaction among researchers, practitioners, owners, and decision makers.
Mountains 2018 will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, organized by Embrapa. The expectations for Mountains 2018 are already increasing.