Round Table – Guidelines for Future Assessments of Sustainable Mountain Development

This Round Table was organized around two panels. The first asked five people to respond to a key paper of SD assessment (Parris and Kates 2003), particularly to the different motivations for assessments and to the steps needed to ensure salience, credibility and legitimacy.

Thomas Dax emphasized the SMD assessment process rather than the assessment product itself, with such questions as what do we expect to learn, do we need to compare, who is measuring, will different people get different answers.

Chagat Almashev emphasized working on smaller jurisdictional units with many indicators, and focused on decision-making, especially with respect to national budgets.

Sam Kanyanmibwa focussed on “passing the message” ( advocacy) and using measures that have currency (e.g., GDP). He saw many different venues and great difficulty in one system capturing all the necessary elements.

Andrew Taber saw a great need for SMD assessments but foresaw too the need to identify target audiences and to have a strategy for the use of the assessment. He gave examples of effective advocacy using a few measures, and saw the SDGs as opportunity to highlight mountain issues.

Dirk Hoffman saw assessments as critical in competing for financing. He particularly liked the paradigm of “planetary boundaries”, defining limits beyond which the social-ecological systems should not go. He also liked the notion of “human development rights” as a structure for assessment.

Comments from the floor included:

  • building out from existing (assessment) efforts
  • looking at what existing local communities have already done
  • the specific structure of the SDGs (goals, targets, indicators)
  • the problem of disaggregating data to characterize mountain regions
  • the need for a clear justification
  • the need to tie assessments to existing efforts and initiatives (FE, agency plans, SDGs)
  • distinguishing means from ends: what do end users really need?
  • the fourth pillar of culture

The second panel focussed on MONET, the Swiss SD indicator system, as an example.

Khalida Khan found that MONET failed on a number of counts.

Derek Kauneckis found that the number of environmental indicators was surprisingly low and that the emphasis on economy reflected its European context.

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