From 17 to 19 October, UNU-EHS and Eurac Research are hosting the Global Mountain Safeguard Research (GLOMOS) Conference in Bolzano, Italy. Under the patronage of the governor of South Tyrol, the theme of the international workshop is, “Emerging Risks and Future Challenges for Mountain Regions worldwide”.
The conference functions as the kick-off event for the GLOMOS programme, a long-term collaboration between Eurac Research and UNU-EHS. The initiative seeks to further develop the scientific basis for increasing the resilience of mountain communities towards natural and man-made hazards and disaster risks, to protect the wealth of biological and cultural diversity, and to support the sustainable development of the highly sensitive social-ecological systems in mountain regions.
UNU Vice-Rector in Europe Prof. Jakob Rhyner, who has been involved in the development of the new programme since the beginning, will open the conference on behalf of United Nations University. A native of the Swiss Alps, he has a personal connection to the topic, but more importantly, he sees a great scientific need for it. “Mountain research needs to receive more attention,” Rhyner explains. “Only 13% of the world’s population lives in mountain regions, and I think they do not have a sufficiently powerful lobby. On the other hand, they are extremely important for the water supply of much of the world population, so sustainable development in these areas is crucial.”
The conference will bring together 150 participants from all over the world, among them representatives of the UN, scientists from different disciplines, practitioners, policymakers and representatives of the private sector. According to Rhyner, this composition is unique as it fosters interaction between big international actors such as UN Climate Change (UNFCCC) and small actors, such as small and medium enterprises as well as academia.
The participants will be exchanging ideas in working groups at the meeting itself, but the main goal of the conference is to provide the common ground for joint scientific projects and activities that continue for years to come. “One of our main tasks at UNU is to establish platforms for science-practice, science-policy, and science-private sector interaction,” explains Rhyner. “That is why Eurac is such a valuable partner for us because it is not only an excellent research institute; it also has strong connections to the private sector.”
The conference even includes a private sector exhibit where regional companies can demonstrate sustainable products and initiatives. “It is really crucial to include the private sector,” says Rhyner. “It will play a principal role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Aside from creating new projects, the GLOMOS programme will establish Bolzano as a new UN duty station. The UN has recently approved this, and at the start of the conference the UN flag was already flying over the building. “We have had partnerships with Eurac for several years,” explains Rhyner. “But this is more than that; it is the foundation for long-term institutional cooperation.”
For a flyer about the GLOMOS programme, click here.
For a press release about the conference, click here.