Communities at the Top: transformative processes in the context of crisis in mountain regions
Jorge Recharte, Ph.D., is the Executive Director of the Instituto de Montaña and is based in Lima, Peru. He has taken full advantage of the dramatically visible consequences of climate change on tropical glaciers to draw attention to the Andes’ important role in the welfare of mountain communities and the region as a whole.
Complexity, marginalization, remoteness, island-like landscape, fragility—core features of mountain regions—amplify the impacts associated with social and biophysical drivers of change: climate transitions, labor mobility, globalization, among others. Mountain communities have respond to these changes in global and national context in multiple forms, often through seasonal or multi-year male migration, loss of farm productivity, erosion of traditional knowledge, women assuming more farm work and responsibilities, senior demographics, and degradation governance institutions. Yet, in this same context, there are examples of mountain communities all over the world that respond with endogenous processes that are transformative and result in stronger economies and social relations as a result either of cultural affirmation, innovations in organization, links to more profitable value chains, or even confrontation and successful negotiation with powerful stakeholders, like mining concerns in the case of the Andes. We refer to these as “communities at the top” (comunidades de punta) and explore the processes that empowered these mountain communities to produce transformative change.