Mountlennium: Reaching Millennium Development Goals through Regional Mountain Governance

To what extent can regional governance architectures of mountainous areas contribute to achieving the Millenium Development Goals in terms of integration of sustainable development principles and of reduction of biodiversity loss?

Project Summary

The Mountlennium project analyzes regional mountain initiatives with the aim of assessing the contribution of regional governance architectures to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs – 7A : integration of sustainable development principles in national policies, and 7B : reduction of biodiversity loss). While progress towards meeting the MDGs has focused on the policies and practices of countries and intergovernmental organizations of the UN system, the originality of the project is to look at the role of the regional scale in policy diffusion. Mountain regions have been recognized as critical human-environment systems on the world’s environmental agenda.

Implementing sustainable development strategies through regional initiatives entails processes of rescaling, which impacts governance, collective action, and identity formation. In order to assess the potential of MDG diffusion through regional initiatives, the Mountlennium project focuses on five mountainous areas where regional governance initiatives have been launched: the European Alps, the Carpathians, the Balkans, the Caucasus and Central Asia. The five case studies are analyzed as linked empirical domains in order to assess the institutional diffusion of a “mountain governance” model inspired by the Alpine Convention in terms of sustainable development. In turn, the five mountain governance initiatives are compared on the basis of how MDGs 7A and 7B resonate with prevailing provisions so as to ascertain regionalization`s potential for mainstreaming sustainable development principles and reducing biodiversity loss.

Academic Output

Working Paper

Mountlennium: Reaching Millennium Development Goals through Regional Mountain Governance

The Mountlennium project approached the worldwide spread of mountain governance – and its potential for diffusing MDG goals – from an interdisciplinary view of the politics of scale involved in creating and diffusing governance arrangements and processes. The project has shed light on two processes of diffusion – diffusion of regional mountain governance and diffusion of tools and practices through regional governance architectures – and the implications of their interplay for the achievement of MDGs 7A and 7B. Three analytical dimensions of diffusion are distinguished. First, cognitive-cultural diffusion concerns the ways in which various actors frame mountain regions and identities, as well as their challenges and opportunities, and how these frames resonate with a potential adopter region. Second, institutional diffusion refers to the configuration of actors and the alignment of frames and scales they agreed or disagree on. Third, policy diffusion focuses on the dissemination and aggregation of goals, objectives, programs, and projects that give shape to political action.

Executive Summary

The Mountlennium project analyzed regional mountain initiatives with the aim of assessing the contribution of regional governance architectures to the achievement of two Millennium Development Goals (MDGs – 7A: integration of sustainable development principles in national policies & 7B: reduction of biodiversity loss). The research showed that even though regional mountain initiatives have largely ignored MDGs as an instrument, they have clearly served as conduits for the implementation of sustainable development and biodiversity conservation, thus complementing conventional global and national approaches. The research further reveals extensive connections between these mountain initiatives, which further facilitate the diffusion of relevant experiences and approaches. While the global mountain agenda has served as a common frame of reference in these diffusion processes, however, the Alpine (or any other) experience has not become a single model for regional mountain governance elsewhere.

Research Team

Bernard Debarbieux
Université de Genève

Gilles Rudaz
Principal Member
Université de Genève

Jörg Balsiger
Principal Member
Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich

Harald Egerer
Associated Member
UNEP United Nations Environment Programme

Aleksey Gunya
Associated Member

Vlatko Andonovski
Associated Member
Univerzita sv. Cyrila a Metoda v Trnaveich

Regula Imhof
Associated Member
Alpine Convention






Host Institution