Capturing innovation for change also requires addressing the social, ecological, and economic factors which promote sustainable livelihoods for mountain communities. Events in this theme will focus on how to grow new models of mountain development which are participatory, equitable and just – yet also capable of attracting private-sector investment and having large-scale impacts on the ground.

  • Role of Gender – In Rural-to-urban Migration, Household and Community Dynamics, Mountain Livelihoods
  • Bio-resources for Mountain Communities – Innovations for Sustainable Use of Untapped Resources
  • Market and Business Solutions – New Opportunities through Market Networks, Information Technologies, Rural Infrastructure and Farm + Firm Models


Role of Gender

The role of women in mountain communities is evolving in response to global trends including migration, climate change and increasing integration with global markets. Where men have migrated in search of wage labour, for example, women are increasingly taking on responsibilities that are key to adapting to ecological, social and economic changes in the mountains. Women often play key roles in safeguarding traditional knowledge and managing natural resources, yet frequently have less access to decision-making institutions. Understanding how gender shapes different approaches towards resource management, land-use choice, and climate change adaptation can help devise more effective interventions to enhance mountain livelihoods and build adaptive capacity. Policies, projects and research should consider the need for development trajectories that leads to long-term equitable outcomes for women and men in mountain communities.

The session will address the following questions:

  • How are ecological, social and economic changes in the mountains affecting the changing status and roles of women in mountain communities?
  • How can policies, research and other interventions ensure that women are able to drive improvements to mountain livelihoods? What are some best practices, and where is the potential for innovative strategies?
  • In what ways can the livelihoods of women be enhanced? How can gains in gender equality be secured for the future?

Bio-resources for Mountain Communities

Bio-resources occupy a central position in the cultures and economies of mountain communities. Mountain peoples have for generations depended on their local environments for survival, and as a result have evolved livelihood strategies unique to their local contexts. These strategies are passed on through generations in the form of traditional knowledge, which today continues to play an important role in the conservation and sustainable use of bio-resources.

Both wild and cultivated bio-resources – timber, animal and forest products, fungi, crops – provide an enormous variety of foods, medicines, fodder, building materials, clothing, and saleable items. The use of these resources by mountain communities is often governed by traditional customs and beliefs which relate to bodily and spiritual health, not only of the consumer but of the wider landscape. Such holistic approaches offer insights on how natural resources in mountain areas can be sustainably managed; however, the impacts of global pressures such as climate change and increasing integration with global markets mean that traditional methods must be combined with modern scientific tools in order to help mountain communities adjust to new challenges and take advantage of new opportunities.

The stores of cultural and biological diversity found in mountain regions offer the chance to exploit as-yet untapped resources such as new species of edible fungi, drought-resistant crops, multifunctional plants which can yield a variety of products, and genomic resources which could yield important advances in medicine, agriculture and industry.

The session will address the following questions:

  • Which bio-resources in mountain regions have the potential for further development and wider use?
  • How can researchers work together with mountain peoples to identify such resources?
  • How can we ensure that mountain peoples benefit in an equitable and just way from any use of their knowledge and resources?
  • How do government policies and private sector companies affect the use of bio-resources by mountain communities, and how can the former provide new opportunities for enhancing sustainable mountain livelihoods?

Market and Business Solutions

The competitive pressures of the marketplace tend to reward firms with the ability to adapt, innovate, and deliver. Combined with the private sector’s ability to access capital and generate returns on a large scale, these characteristics offer the potential for private sector actors to play a key role in developing and scaling up innovative solutions for sustainable mountain livelihoods. This session will explore the market-based solutions that can support economically marginalized communities in mountain regions, including initiatives such as the marketing of niche products, sustainable tourism and farm+firm models. It will also examine the challenges faced by market and business solutions. For example, small-scale producers in a globalized market often lack information and stable commercial partnerships. Meanwhile, businesses can be too focused on profit-making, and end up creating social conflicts and greater inequality. There is therefore an urgent need to identify ways of involving the private sector that generate sustainable returns while meeting the social and environmental needs of mountain communities.

This session will address the following questions:

  • What constitutes successful participation of mountain communities in the private sector, and vice versa?
  • What are the conditions that enable such successful participation?
  • And how can information and communication technologies, public policy, and education and training programs contribute towards this success?


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