Canadian Mountain Assessment

Canadian Mountain Assessment

Project Description

The Canadian Mountain Assessment (CMA) addresses three fundamental questions: what do we know, not know, and need to know about Canada’s diverse and rapidly changing mountain systems? In answering these questions it advances key objectives of the Canadian Mountain Network (CMN), and will significantly improve our ability to identify and respond to changing conditions in Canada’s vast mountainous regions. Furthermore, the assessment’s inclusive, participatory development and review procedures provide an important example of collaboration and reconciliation activities by the CMN. More broadly, the assessment raises the profile of mountain systems in Canadian and international research and policy contexts. The CMA is a critical component of advancing a comprehensive, multiple-evidence-based, and inclusive vision of Canada’s mountain systems.

The CMA is informed by lessons learned from key regional and global knowledge synthesis endeavors (e.g. Hindu Kush Himalayan Assessment, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports). Its governance, methodology, and structure are being developed in partnership with Indigenous, scientific, and government partners, to ensure that the spectrum of stakeholder values and interests is represented in the assessment. The CMA is focused primarily on evaluating peer-reviewed literature and Indigenous knowledge (including narrative accounts/oral traditions), as appropriate, but also integrates insights from select grey literature.

The Assessment’s structure and knowledge synthesis/braiding approach will be defined in close collaboration with Indigenous, scientific, and government advisors as well as a nation-wide survey of individuals associated with the CMN (~1,300 people). Each chapter will be led by a team of experts, which will include leading researchers and, where appropriate, Indigenous partners with expert knowledge of mountain systems. Combined, the chapters will provide a first-of-its-kind look at the state of knowledge of Canada’s mountains, including the relative scope of knowledge across topics and geographies. The Assessment will also be relevant for tracking Canada’s progress on major international commitments such as those related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement.

Timeline, Activities and Deliverables

Activities began in May 2020, with a focus on establishing a governance framework for the CMA as well as co-developing the Assessment’s structure and knowledge synthesis/braiding approach. Author identification and writing will take place from late 2020 through 2021. An interim report will be delivered in February 2022, which will support the Network’s near-term planning and advocacy efforts. This report will enable the CMN to 1) determine priority areas for research investment in the final two years of the NCE and 2) to begin outlining a concrete rationale for increased national-level investment and political engagement with mountain systems in Canada. Comment on the interim report will be sought from the CMN network, Indigenous partners, and other key stakeholders over the spring and summer of 2022. Revisions based on the review process will be made in the fall of 2022, with the final assessment being delivered in December 2022.

Project Alignment to CMN Priorities

The CMA responds to the pressing need for a national-scale assessment of Canada’s mountain systems, as outlined in the CMN’s NCE application, and will make clear contributions to CMN’s five overarching goals and four research priority areas (see CMN Strategic Plan, p. 8 & 9). The Assessment also provides a platform for connecting and mobilizing researchers, practitioners, and Indigenous peoples with knowledge of mountains, and will therefore help to catalyze a community of practice related to mountains in Canada.

Project Leader

The CMA is led by Dr. Graham McDowell, who has designed and conducted numerous assessments of the state of scientific knowledge in mountainous, Arctic, and global contexts. He has also served as a Contributing Author for both the IPCC SROCC ‘High Mountain Areas’ chapter as well as the in-progress IPCC AR6 ‘Cross-Chapter Paper on Mountains’, the most comprehensive scientific assessments of mountain systems to date. In addition, he has been involved with numerous community-based studies with Indigenous peoples, including projects focused on climate change vulnerability and adaptation in the Nepal Himalaya, Peruvian Andes, Greenland, and Baffin Island. Dr. McDowell draws on this background to advance a comprehensive, multiple-evidence-based, and inclusive assessment of mountain systems in Canada.

Project Governance

In order to ensure that the CMA is based on the best available knowledge, the Assessment is guided by a multi-level governance structure that involves researchers, Indigenous knowledge holders, and government representatives.

Project Leader

The Project Leader bears ultimate responsibility for defining, managing, and delivering the CMA.  In consultation with the advisors named below, the Project Leader develops the knowledge synthesis protocols, identifies Assessment authors, support chapter teams, oversees peer- and stakeholder-review activities, and ensures the scientific and ethical integrity of the final assessment.

Canadian Mountain Network Leadership

The CMN Leadership works with the Project Leader to facilitates coherence between CMA and CMN goals and research priorities (see CMN Strategic Plan).

Canadian Advisory Committee

The Canadian Advisory Committee is the primary entity involved in providing guidance to the Project Leader. The Advisory Committee is substantively involved in formulating acceptable knowledge synthesis protocols, defining the Assessment structure, and identifying chapter authors.

International Advisory Committee

The International Advisory Committee supports the Project Leader and the Canadian Advisory Committee by providing germane insights from prior mountain-focused assessment efforts and other relevant global initiatives.

Project Research Assistants

Research Assistants provide support for specific analyses related to the CMA.