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Point of view: A strategy for people in the Alps

Sep 20, 2016
The European strategy for the Alps is intended to create new relationships between Alpine regions and the surrounding areas. This however requires oversight to ensure the reconciliation of interests as well as sustainable development, says Andreas Pichler, director of CIPRA international.
Andreas Pichler, Director, CIPRA International. © Marcel Hagen
Image caption:
Andreas Pichler, Director, CIPRA International. © Marcel Hagen

The starting signal for the implementation of the European Strategy for the Alpine Region (Eusalp) was given in February 2016 at a conference in the town of Brdo, Slovenia. The procedures have in the meanwhile become clearer and the competing interests are gathering momentum. CIPRA is participating in two of a total of nine action groups, addressing the topics of natural resources (Group 6) and ecological networking (Group 7).
The procedure, composition and goals of the various action groups are very different. It is thus all the more important that the heads of the action groups and the Eusalp committees ensure a fair exchange of interests and a solution-oriented working method so that the more powerful players are held in check and the common vision of sustainable development in the Alps is kept in the foreground.
It is not the strategy’s area of application, but rather the people who live and work in the Alps who are at the centre of Eusalp. CIPRA has from the outset lobbied for the involvement of civil society, which must be guaranteed representation on all working groups and at all levels.
The members of the working groups must ensure that the focus is not only on growth and economic development, but also on the needs of nature and society. Sustainable development should be a specific and common theme for all working groups.
We should consider the goals of the macro-regional strategies that pursue a “locally oriented” political approach: the aim is not just to secure European policies in the regions, but also to take account of the regional characteristics, potentials and challenges of larger, supra-national areas with a functional reference – such as the Alps. These characteristics, potentials and challenges must first be identified and aligned in a joint co-operation exercise.
Sustainable regional development relates to the public good, the cultural, scenic and natural heritage and the preservation of common assets in the Alps. The Alpine Convention can serve as a basis here if stakeholders, including NGOs like CIPRA, succeed in meshing it with the Eusalp goals and advocate for development that is compatible with the Alps. Such co-operation will mean a lot of hard work for everyone – we stand ready.

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