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Point of view: Change begins in the heart

Claire Simon is executive director of CIPRA International © CIPRA International

Claire Simon, Executive Director of CIPRA International, used the occasion of the 2015 CIPRA annual conference to call for more engagement with people and their ways of thinking in order to strengthen the natural and cultural diversity of the Alps.

If we also want our children to enjoy a good life in the Alps, we will have to change both our individual and our collective living and working habits, whether by reducing the rise in global temperatures, for example, or adapting to the changes already taking place and preventing a dramatic deterioration of the situation. More than just in the laws and regulations adopted in the past decades, sustainable development has to be firmly anchored in the hearts of those living in the Alps.

Changes in behaviour do not begin in the head, but rather with the emotions. This has been shown by various cognitive and social science studies, including that carried out by Annette Jenny, who reported on the results obtained to the 2015 CIPRA annual conference. Citizens’ initiatives in the Alps put this knowledge into practice and address the challenges of sustainable development with their experiences and emotions. Noteworthy examples are pop-up veggie cafes, alternative workplace models and garden co-operatives. Using projects such as the “Youth Alpine Express” or the “100max” climate game, CIPRA encourages residents in the Alps to try out more climate and environmentally friendly lifestyles, travel and eating habits.

For these pioneering initiatives to be able to spread, representatives of the worlds of politics and business have to be open to current changes and support such actions. We need to learn to work differently in order to ensure a fruitful exchange between civil society, politics and business – for the good of everyone and for the good of the Alps.

Further information: http://www.cipra.org/de/medienmitteilungen/man-muss-veraenderung-ueben (de, fr, it, sl)