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Alpine towns – key to sustainable development

Nov 09, 2022 / Caroline Begle, CIPRA International
The ninth Report on the State of the Alps, entitled “Alpine Towns”, was presented as part of the Swiss presidency of the Alpine Convention. It sheds light on how the Alpine settlement system hinders – or helps – the sustainable development of the Alps.
Image caption:
The ninth Report on the State of the Alps, focusing on Alpine cities, was presented and adopted at the end of October at the Alpine Conference in Brig-Glis/CH. © David Schweizer

More than two thirds of the inhabitants of the Alps live in cities, which in turn play a central role in their sustainable development: economic prosperity and innovation, quality of life, efficient mobility structures or climate and environmental protection all depend to a large extent on cities. Through their connection to the surrounding countryside, cities can have an impact on larger areas and act as agents for change.

The ninth Report on the State of the Alps (RSA9) reflects on this role of cities and how they influence the development of the Alps, both as the source of challenges such as urbanisation, resource consumption and flows of people and goods – but also as a central focus of sustainable solutions for the future.

“The report looks at the Alpine settlement system both transnationally and from a city perspective,” explains Maria Lezzi, Director of the Federal Office for Spatial Development ARE, in the introduction. “Furthermore, it offers two different approaches: an analytical one, where maps, facts and debates stimulate the discussion; and an explorative approach, in which five scenarios provide answers to the question of what Alpine towns could look like in 2050.” This should help anticipate trends so that the right solutions for the future can be developed today.

The analyses, scenarios, maps and blog posts can be found at