Author: Stefano Sala (Project Manager, University of Milan – UNIMONT)
According to a study of the European Environment Agency, mountains cover 35% of Europe’s land area and 30% of the European Union’s surface. Significant mountain ranges, such as the Alps, Apennines, Pyrenees, Scandes and Carpathians, traverse the European continent and are home to approximately 17% of the EU’s population. Mountains hold a vital role in our daily lives, providing essential resources and ecosystem services to a significant portion of the global population, including those living in lowlands regions.
Nowadays, European mountain regions are suffering from the effects of climate change to the rapid melting of glaciers and shifts in water availability. These changes are affecting key community systems such as agriculture, biodiversity, energy, mobility, tourism and water resources. The consequences of these changes also impact lower, mid-hills and floodplain ecosystems. This underscores the urgent need to increase the adaptative capacity of local communities and drive transformative change and enhance resilience against climate change.
The “MountResilience – Accelerating transformative climate change adaptation for higher resilience in European Mountain Regions” project, led by UNIMONT, the University of Milan centre and funded by the European Commission under the Horizon Europe Mission on Adaptation to Climate Change, aims to address these pressing issues. Launched in September 2023, this project involves 47 partners, including research centres, universities, innovation agencies, regions, and small municipalities, from 13 European countries to collaboratively develop and test adaptation actions aimed at mitigating climate change’s impacts on mountain regions. They will work on the implementation of pilot solution in the next four years and a half.
Within the initial 6 months, project partners, particularly ZSI – Centre for Social Innovation, Technical University Wien and UNIMONT, will work together to establish a conceptual model for climate-resilient transformation. This model will help to identify and analyse the intricate web of interdependencies and cascading effects related to climate change. Partners will also develop a portfolio of Nature-Based Solutions and innovations across key sectors, such as winter tourism, water consumption in agriculture, energy conservation and efficiency, land use, and biodiversity preservation. These efforts will shape climate-resilient regional strategies to be implemented by the 6 pilot communities of the project: Tyrol (Austria), Gabrovo (Bulgaria), Râu Sadului (Romania), Valais (Switzerland), Piedmont (Italy) and Lapland (Finland).
The local partners will engage with stakeholders from business, public administration, research, and civil society, and employ open innovation as well as participatory and co-design processes to involve and mobilize local communities. The goal is to promote sustainable development within their territories. Subsequently, 4 “replicator” communities – Autonomous Region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia (Italy), Catalonia (Spain), Primorje-Gorski Kotar County (Croatia), and Podkarpackie (Poland) – will replicate the tested technological and social adaptation solutions from the pilot communities. This transfer of knowledge and capacity-building initiatives will enhance their ability to adapt effectively.
MountResilience recognizes the wealth diversity across European regions and communities, each with distinct landscapes, physical characteristics, socio-economic conditions, unique cultural and other territorial features. This diversity will allow the project to integrate a range of diversified perspectives, knowledge, experiences, and needs into its solutions, results and end-products. This approach aims to generate a diverse portfolio of heterogeneous Climate Change Adaptation tools capable of addressing the unique challenges presented by a variety of European contexts.
Discover more on the project: MountResilience.eu