Mountain Research and Development Journal
A traditional rebo tent stands resilient in the vast landscape of Changthang, Ladakh. Photo by Arif Pandit

Call for papers: Open Issue

With this focus issue, we aim to contribute to a better understanding of migration trends, drivers, and impacts in mountain areas. In particular, we are looking for papers that examine how governance and development initiatives can strengthen the benefits of migration and reduce its drawbacks in terms of sustainable development.

Patterns of human migration from, within, and to mountain areas are constantly changing. Traditionally, these diverse flows of migration are understood as strategies to cope with place-specific pressures on livelihoods, limited access to natural resources in the sending areas, and employment or other prospects in the receiving areas. Political conflicts, economic downturns, and environmental crises often drive migration as people seek refuge and employment. For example, mega development projects (eg dams and highways) and severe disasters, such as flooding, landslides, and fires, have forced people to resettle away from their homes and towns. While some leave mountains, others have sought refuge or new opportunities in the uplands. For example, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the appeal of environments such as mountain villages and towns as places for remote working. In developing countries, the pandemic forced migrants to temporarily return to their families in rural mountain villages.

These human movements, often by the younger generation, entail significant changes in both the social fabric and the ecosystems of mountain areas, with implications for sustainability. The scale and impact of these trends should therefore be explored within the context of sustainability agendas in mountains. While mountain livelihoods have often become more diversified thanks to migration, they have also become more dependent on multilocal income generation within and outside of mountain areas; for example, many mountain communities rely on remittances from migrants. In some areas, outmigration has led to land abandonment, resulting in successional changes in mountain ecosystems, including reversion to natural habitat.

This issue of MRD aims to contribute to a better understanding of migration trends, drivers, and impacts in mountain areas. Further, it aims to highlight how the governance of migration processes and development initiatives can strengthen migration’s benefits and reduce its drawbacks in terms of sustainable development. What impacts does migration have on land use and natural resources, including biodiversity and ecosystem services? How does it affect the demographics, especially gender and generational dimensions, and the cultural life of mountain communities? What are the outcomes of migration on mountain people’s livelihoods and, more broadly, on their socioeconomic resilience? How can governance, information and communications technology, and development interventions contribute to favourable outcomes? Analyses should enhance perspectives that overcome stereotypes about migrants and seek to harness their potential and include them in sustainable development strategies.

This call for papers invites contributions, including comparative studies, that explore and address migration issues in different mountain areas of the world. More specifically, we invite contributions from scholars and development specialists for MRD’s 3 peer-reviewed sections:

MountainDevelopment (transformation knowledge): Papers should present insights and lessons learned from systematic assessments of innovative approaches or from action-oriented and transdisciplinary research. They should focus on how to reduce the causes of forced migration, foster beneficial outcomes of in- and outmigration, and empower mountain communities to cope with adverse effects of migration on livelihoods and ecosystems. For example, papers might assess how public and private services, new information and communications technology, digitalization, or innovative land management practices can shape migration processes to promote sustainability in mountain areas.

MountainResearch (systems knowledge): Papers should present empirical research, baseline studies, and meta-analyses on the scope of and changes in migration patterns in mountain regions. Papers could review different types of movements (in- and outmigration, return migration, circular migration, etc) and scale effects, and their implications for human–nature relationships in mountain contexts. Studies of challenges and opportunities arising from recent trends in migration patterns, changes in mobility, and altered attractiveness of places are of particular interest.

MountainAgenda (target knowledge): Papers should propose agendas and priorities for future research, policies, or interventions, with a focus on enabling inclusionary migration pathways in mountain contexts, coping with challenges, and nurturing opportunities arising from the diverse movements of people related to mountain areas. The agendas must be based on reviews or systematic stakeholder processes in the respective fields.

Joanne Millar, Thomas Dax, Ricardo Grau, Bahadar Nawab Khattak, and Hermann Kreutzmann, guest editors, in collaboration with MRD’s Editorial Office, November 2022

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