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Point of view: 25 years of the Alpine Convention are not enough

Apr 20, 2016 / alpMedia
While we celebrate 25 years of the Alpine Convention, we still bemoan the slow pace of its implementation. For its objectives to be achieved, believes Katharina Conradin, President of CIPRA International, we have to repeatedly demand their realisation.
Image caption:
Katharina Conradin is president of CIPRA International © Martin Walser

Expectations were high as the environment ministers of the Alpine countries met in the Austrian city of Salzburg in 1991 to sign the Convention for the Protection of the Alps – the Alpine Convention. CIPRA, together with many of its fellow campaigners, expected it to make a crucial contribution to the Alps becoming the green paradise in Europe. We have still got some way to go, however – and there are good reasons for this.

Every international convention requires a suitable implementation strategy at national level. The signatory states must thus anchor the objectives and rules of the Alpine Convention in their constitutions and legal codes. Yet this is where the central challenge arises: the systemic and multi-sector approach of the Alpine Convention (which covers matters ranging from soil protection to traffic and tourism) contradicts the sector-based organisation of the Alpine states, which usually entrust a single ministry (mostly the environment ministry) with the main responsibility for the Alpine Convention. The responsible ministries naturally have difficulty in implementing the aims of the Alpine Convention on a 1:1 basis in other ministries.

But it would be an oversimplification to charge the contracting parties – and thus the fact that not all expectations have been met – with the lack of implementation of the Alpine Convention. In the long run the need is for more than “just” the Alpine Convention in order for the Alps to transform themselves into a model region of sustainable development. The Alpine Convention is a political guide and vision, but it too needs a basic social understanding as regards the direction in which the Alps are to develop. This can never be determined only from above: it must grow from below, with innumerable initiatives, committed individuals and partners drawn from society, economy and environment.

We thus all have a responsibility to commit to sustainable, ecologically sound development and to use the potential of the Alpine Convention: we emphasise this in our 2015 annual report, which we have dedicated to the Alpine Convention. CIPRA will also advocate for these goals over the next 25 years and contribute to the implementation of the Alpine Convention.

Filed under: alpMedia 04/2016