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Examples of social innovation

Apr 18, 2018

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Self-initiative, new collaborations and a rucksack full of ideas are needed in order to transform both social and economic practices. But reinventing the wheel is not always necessary: the world is full of good ideas, inspiring initiatives and novel projects, and many of these can be transferred to the Alps. Exchanges between city and country, between different sectors or cultures, between generations or people will all bring new insights. It is important to learn from one another, to adopt good approaches and to adapt them to circumstances and needs. An active civil society that is committed to implementing new initiatives in the local area can make all the difference.


* Slovenia

* Italy

* Austria

* Germany

* Liechtenstein

* Switzerland

* France



Green commitment
The “Sustainability Park Istra” youth project provides impulses for young people to get involved and develop ideas for sustainable development together with the local population in Istria.

More than just co-working
Poligon brings together people in Slovenia in the fields of the creative industries, social entrepreneurship and culture. It is an autonomous platform for project development and for empowering the self-employed.

Green travel
The Goodplace project develops and manages awareness-raising and educational projects for all those involved in tourism, encouraging them to act responsibly towards the environment, culture and society.



A real-world laboratory for sustainability
Six abandoned buildings are being converted into a campus for the MonViso Institute in Ostana. This will serve as a laboratory that students, scientists, artists and tourists alike can use.

A community moves forward
As in many Alpine valleys, also the emigration from Italy’s Po Valley has become a problem. The local government has made every effort to create the social and economic conditions to provide the people of Ostana with a future. 

A ban on pesticides
In 2014, the South Tyrolean municipality of Mals decided in a referendum to ban pesticides from the local area. This decision met with strong opposition from both the higher authorities and from farmers. The initiative is however supported by the likes of the gardeners’ network Hollawint. (de)



Rural consulate
A number of rural regions and municipalities have joined forces and opened a joint “municipal consulate” in Vienna. This meeting point strengthens the bond with the homeland, represents the countryside in the city and maintains contact with its citizens in the city. (de)

Local book trade
A team of school pupils wants to re-establish the book trade in Austria to a local level. Their aim is to connect all Viennese bookstores and build up a network of providers in each district. (de)

Sharing income and risk
Farming based on the principles of solidarity agriculture sees members of a community receive a share of the crops for a fixed period in order to allow the production of regional, seasonal and organic products. Producers and customers jointly share both, risk and harvest. (de)



For a future fit for our descendants
The “Futurzwei” foundation relates stories of success in terms of new lifestyles, post-growth, transition towns, divestment, the economy for the common good and constructive journalism. (de)

City and country at the same table
The aim is to bring people from the city and the countryside together at one table in order to discover new perspectives and develop solutions for ecological, social and cultural challenges. (de)

Living in the village
How can basic services and facilities be sustainably provided in villages? The DORV project envisages the creation of a centre that will offer the daily necessities such as food, coupled with services and community-based social areas, all close to the locality. (de)

The “Citizens can achieve plenty”-Initiative promotes associations and helps citizens establish a common budget for regional public projects (public assets). Each region decides autonomously on its use by means of citizens’ parliaments. (de)



Don’t throw it away – repair it instead!
Repair cafés are voluntary get-togethers where participants repair their broken things with each other. Tools and materials are available for the likes of clothing, furniture, electrical appliances, bicycles, toys and much more.

A biotope of ideas
The I-LivAlps project, organised by CIPRA International, offers a kind of local laboratory. Young adults, experts and representatives of various organizations develop new ideas together and learn from one another.

New work for old bikes
The FreeVeloPoint is a very special bike rental system in the Liechtenstein region. Old bicycles are collected, repaired, painted orange and made available to the public. (de)



Promoting innovation
Together with representatives from the tourism and science sectors, CIPRA Switzerland is using its “innovation generator” to pursue a multi-level approach, seeking ideas to ensure more sustainability in tourism. (de)

Revitalising villages
Many rural communities in the Alps are fighting to survive: jobs are becoming scarcer, young people are leaving, buildings are collapsing. The citizens of Valendas have founded an association that has given a new impetus to their village. (de)

Scenarios for the Alpine space
The “Rätikon Academy of the Future” develops scenarios for regional development through the combination of local expertise with artistic and scientific thinking and processes. Working directly in a pilot area, up-and-coming artists and scientists will design project ideas for the future development of the community – and more besides. (de)

The AlpenTaxi service connects stops for public transport with destinations in the mountains. Local taxis, hail-and-ride buses and cable cars will thus offer environmentally-friendly access also to remote mountain regions. (de)



Service in the country
The Adrets association exists to offer information and support centres that provide an emergency service for all kinds of questions, free of charge. Adrets promotes public access to services in the Alps and in rural areas. (fr)

Care by mail
The “Look after my parents”-offer provided by the French post office means that postmen and women not only deliver letters, but also visit elderly people on a regular basis. This creates exchange and in the event of problems, necessary remedies or repairs can be set in motion. (fr)

A garden of diversity
Vegetables, fruits and berries, spices and medicinal plants: the Bec Hellouin farm in Normandy is the first permaculture farm in France, as well as an experimental station for numerous scientific studies. Permaculture aims to create a close-to-nature, independent and sustainable form of agriculture.

Tracking changes

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