Community Livelihoods & Enterprise
The Mountain Institute protects critical mountain ecosystems and promotes prosperous livelihoods to create resilient mountain communities. We work closely with highland communities, combining local and indigenous knowledge with the latest science to develop practical conservation and development solutions. With non-profit, government, academic and private-sector partners, our programs promote natural resource conservation, sustainable economic development, climate change adaptation and resilience and cultural preservation.
Mountain ecosystems are threatened. Despite their importance, mountain ecosystems, people and wildlife are under a barrage of threats. Millions live in extreme poverty and are chronically food insecure. Migration is eroding cultures and fraying the fabric of communities. People and ecosystems alike are vulnerable to changing climate and extreme weather and natural disasteers. TMI works closely with mountain communities, combininb local and indigenous knowledge with the latest science to develop practical conservation solutions. With non-profit, government, academic and private-sector partners, our programs promote natural resource conservation, sustainable economic development, climate change adaptation and resilience and cultural preservation.
Empowering Mountain Cultures
Preserving ancient cultures in mountainous regions is just as important as conserving their natural environment and improving mountain economies. Mountain communities, frequently made up of ethnic minorities, harbor thousand year old cultural traditions shaped by natural environments. Mountain people are the stewards of sites that have invaluable historical and cultural importance–from temples and sacred monuments to ancient forts. The traditional knowledge of these ancient cultures is of immense importance and value as we look for ways to adapt to a rapidly changing world.
Efforts to manage, conserve or restore natural environments can help people adapt to climate change by taking advantage of a healthy ecosystem’s natural resilience. Helping mountain farmers to sustainably cultivate, harvest and market valuable native crops provides a dependable source of income, promotes biodiversity conservation and helps maintain healthy soil. By carefully managing a mountain watershed, erosion and pollution are reduced and native plant species and wildlife can rebound. This also helps ensure sufficient water supply for local communities and for populations further downstream. These nature-based solutions are examples of Ecosystem-based Adaptation, or EbA.
Advocacy & Governance
There is simply not enough global attention on the unique challenges that face mountain communities and environments. We champion efforts and policies that promote sustainable mountain development, conserving mountain ecosystems and preserving ancient cultures. The Mountain Institute plays a leading role in bringing mountain issues to the attention of governments, provate sector organizations, charity/non-profit groups and civil society organizations. Serving as chair of The Mountain Partnership–a United Nations voluntary alliance–TMI is working with Partnership members to keep mountain issues front and center. From the United Nation’s climate summits in Lima, Paris and Marrakesh to local and regional forums, TMI has helped create awareness of the importance of mountains and the need for global-level policies that promote solutions in these underserved places.
Science & Exploration
Mountain Institute staff and partners have developed a community-driven approach to understanding changes in the world’s glaciers, including the threat from glacial lake outburst flooding. Our inclusive approach brings scientists, mountain villagers and local governments together. The resulting blend of scientific and traditional knowledge serves as a solid foundation for community-driven action plans for adapting to climate change. Lessons learned in the Himalayas of Nepal have been shared with mountain communities in the Andes through applied research materials, workshops and exchanges. TMI plans to continue fostering exchanges between mountain villagers and scientists around the globe.