October 2005

The Mountain Forum Experience

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One definition of the word 'partnership' is 'a relationship between individuals or groups that is characterised by mutual cooperation and responsibility, as for the achievement of a specified goal'. It is this definition of 'partnership' that drives the Mountain Forum community.

The aim of MDG 8 (develop a global partnership for development) has a clear focus on trade, aid and debt which has been reinterpreted by the Mountain Forum for itself. Mountain Forum's focus is on the idea of facilitating a 'global partnership for sustainable mountain development'. Certain simple things are required to forge successful partnerships.

These are:

  • a common goal;
  • an equal sense of ownership amongst all partners;
  • a supportive environment, either virtual or physical;
  • consistent and open interaction;
  •     efficient and simple tools to facilitate this interaction;
  • neutrality on the part of the facilitators;
  • spirit of sharing.

When these are in place, partnerships flower. When partnerships flower, people interact with each other more. When people interact with each other more, they understand each other better. When they understand each other better, they trust each other more. When they trust each other more, they work together. When they work together, the world can change. That is the power of partnerships.

Mountain Forum in brief
Mountain Forum (MF) is a community of people and organisations which have a deep interest in mountains and issues of sustainable mountain development across the world. Members who form this community are from 137 countries and include activists, administrators, artists, businessmen, community leaders, filmmakers, entrepreneurs, journalists, policy makers, project managers, researchers, students and teachers amongst others. The Mountain Forum community also includes hundreds of organisations including local NGOs, international NGOs, universities and research institutions, government institutions, and intergovernmental organisations. It is a partnership between people and organisations which are bound together by a single idea that of promoting sustainable mountain development across the world. This community is connected in various ways, including e-mail, Internet, publications, and other media tools.


Credit: Mountain Forum

It is perhaps through the structure and functioning of Mountain Forum that its real commitment to develop a truly inclusive and innovative partnership comes to the fore. Mountain Forum is a membership driven, decentralised global network of networks. It is composed of five regional nodes in Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, and Latin and North America, as well as a global secretariat located in Kathmandu, Nepal. The regional nodes and the Mountain Forum Secretariat are autonomous organisations, each hosted by different partner institutions.

Table: Details on the platforms and their utility:

Platform

Used for    

Membership database

Making links with other individuals and organisations which work in your field; finding funding sources; carrying out joint projects; sharing experiences/learnings through an one-on-one communication.

Discussion lists

Sharing information, making announcements; raising and debating issues, forming consensus, formulating collective strategies for action, knowing more about each other and each others' work just through an e-mail.

Online library

Finding material for research on mountains and sustainable mountain development; showcasing work; soliciting peer reviews; sharing research findings.

e-Conferences

Sharing in-depth information and experiences related to the e-Conference theme, identifying lessons learnt and promising strategies, building relationships, support and capacity for action, catalysing community and grassroots level action, supporting mountain agenda advocacy, etc. All these are done at a fraction of the cost of a face-to-face conference.     

Publications

Making links with those members who are out of the connectivity loop; connecting with both grassroots organisations as well as policy makers; bringing voices of distant members to the fore.

Mountain calendar

Knowing what is happening when and where in the world of mountains and mountain development; meeting fellow members and forming alliances; getting information on the event and its outcomes from the organisers. 

The governance of Mountain Forum is the responsibility of its Board of Directors, which has representatives from partnering host institutions and major donors. However, members of Mountain Forum can elect and/or be elected to the Board of Directors through an electronic process. It is through this mechanism that members have a direct say in the governance of the network. Members in this way define what they want from Mountain Forum, a critical prerequisite to a sense of ownership. Currently, there are two elected members on the Board of Directors

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