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Improvisational Theatre: Macro-Region for the Alps

Apr 30, 2014
Is it a comedy, a farce, or a whodunnit? In any case, the subject matter - an Alpine macro-region - is controversial and the cast high-powered. Inspired by the EU, Alpine countries and regions take to the stage while the Alpine Convention assumes the role of input provider.
Image caption:
Bruessel (c) Thierry Roge

The first to come on stage in Mittenwald, Germany and Bad Ragaz, Switzerland are the Alpine regions, who declare their desire for an Alpine macro-region. Macro-regions are areas with similar challenges and potential. That is what it says in the script written by the European Union, also known as the Treaty of Lisbon. Then the Alpine Convention steps in front of the curtain and calls for a macro-region dedicated to sustainability and eco-friendly development in the Alps. The EU's Alpine Space Programme also wants a role.

Act one: enter CIPRA, stage left
The actors are soon improvising - without a director or a script. There's a lot of competition to obtain parts, contribute to the dialogue and join the protagonists. CIPRA is there, too, lending a voice to those who are at risk of being drowned out by the combined noise of the political bodies, i.e. civil society. CIPRA's message: any cooperative venture affecting the core area of the Alps must include a role and benefits for the people who live there. In its scenario, CIPRA calls for a participatory style of theatre with a part to play for the states and regions, the Alpine Convention, Alpine networks and all the other actors working in the Alps and at the interfaces to the surrounding regions. In order to make better progress, the regions soon bring the states onto the stage.

Act two: voices from the audience
There is confusion on stage. Some say there can be no independent role for civil society. Even the Alpine Convention, which has the basic organisational structures and content ready to pull out of the bag, has to fight hard for a seat on the editorial committee. CIPRA and seven other Alpine networks respond by speaking with one voice at a conference in Brussels and in the media, demanding an open process and a good and sustainable life and economy in an Alpine macro-region. The national CIPRA representatives pass ideas to the actors on stage. CIPRA Austria wishes to contribute
"Alpen.Leben" (Living in the Alps), a project for the development of good governance.

Act three: the decision
On 19 December 2013 the European Council decides that there should be a European Strategy for the Alps and appoints the EU Commission as producer. Work begins on the play. Who will we see on stage? Who will get which role? CIPRA calls for a citizens' stage and for a macro-region that can look forward to standing ovations at the end of the play.

Bettina Hug
CIPRA International

Political Interventions at all Levels
A European macro-region is an area that includes territory from a number of different countries or regions connected by one or more common features or challenges. The underlying idea is that a small group of countries and regions can achieve the levels of coordination needed to efficiently tackle common challenges on a cross-border basis and effectively implement solutions. In addition, macro-regions are meant to promote prosperity and cohesion in line with the Europe 2020 strategy for growth and its objectives and to achieve intelligent, sustainable and integrated growth. CIPRA and its networks wish to contribute their experience to a strategy for the Alps in the belief that an Alpine macroregion would represent an opportunity for sustainable development.
As co-founder of the Alpine Convention, CIPRA is also working at other levels for sustainable development in the Alps - in the Alpine Conference of the Ministers of the Environment, on the Standing Committee and through various platforms and working groups. On the Compliance Committee, CIPRA monitors the performance of the signatory states in implementing the Alpine Convention. CIPRA is able to perform these valuable tasks thanks primarily to the generous funding provided by the Liechtenstein authorities.


Source: Annual Report 2013, CIPRA International,