The Caucasus Mountain Forum – a Step towards Addressing Climate Change

Article, 01.11.2019

On 30 October – 1 November 2019, Ankara hosted the Second Caucasus Mountain Forum (CMF) with an aim, inter alia, to formally approve the Caucasus Regional Research Agenda. The Agenda is of vital importance given the lack of regional studies of climate change effects on shared ecosystems and resources critical for economic development.

regional deputy director speaking from the tribute
Deputy Regional Director Werner Thut addresses the participants of the 2nd Regional Conference in Ankara, 2019 ©Scientific Network for the Caucasus Mountain Regions

Climate change is a global process and it is massively affecting the Caucasus mountain regions. The global challenge of this scope cannot be addressed without affective coordination of politicians, practitioners and scientists. In recognition of this downright truth, it was the second time that the Caucasus Mountain forum was organized with Switzerland’s support.

The forum titled “The Caucasus Regional Research Agenda: Key to Sustainable Regional Development” brought together around 200 participants from 13 countries, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Turkey, Russia, Austria and Switzerland. Following the blueprint of the previous forum held in Tbilisi in 2016, the Forum in Ankara offered a great opportunity for constructive interaction between scientists, governmental experts, and practitioners and to debate on opportunities and challenges; and to make contributions to the improved coordination of sustainable development in the Caucasus region.

The discussion and approval of The Caucasus Regional Research Agenda 2020-2030 lay at the core of the 3-day conference. The guiding document consists of concise analysis and research of the 10 most important thematic areas defined based on the results of the Caucasus research data collection from regional and international scientists.

“For the SDC the coming three days mark a highlight in an effort which started 6-7 years back, and which we formally joined in 2015: the promotion of contemporary interdisciplinary mountain research. Switzerland itself is a mountain country per se, with high mountains and rolling hills which cover 66% of our land’s area. We have an intrinsic interest and a proven track-record in the sustainable development of mountain regions for the benefit of vulnerable mountain communities and the welfare of the country as a whole,” mentioned Werner Thut, Deputy Regional Director of Cooperation, during the opening.

The 3-day conference was conducted in sessions on pre-defined topics lead by the distinguished specialists. Werner Thut from the SCO South Caucasus co-chaired a plenary discussion on Sustainable tourism. The closing session was dedicated to the prioritization of research topics by the conference participants climaxing in the formal approval of the Caucasus Regional Research Agenda. In this respect, a broad consensus was achieved on climate change as priority no. 1 (8.4. out of 10 points), whereas other 8 topics were rated fairly equally (between 7.4 and 7.7points), which also demonstrated the high interdependency of the thematic topics.

On behalf of the Swiss Cooperation Office for the South Caucasus, Werner Thut stressed Switzerland’s commitment to support the Agenda of Sustainable Mountain Development at international level, including with a strong focus on climate change. He also underlined the importance to promote a systematic dialogue between the spheres of research and policy, and the need to translate scientific results into action and policies.

Tentatively, the 3rd Caucasus Mountain Forum will be held in Georgia in 2021.