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Point of view: Protecting the Alps – the responsibility of people

Federica Corrado is President of CIPRA Italy © CIPRA

The diversity of the Alps is a challenge that at the same time holds great potential. It is up to the new German presidency of the Alpine Convention to put this into effect, states Federica Corrado, President of CIPRA Italy.

More than ever before, the Alps are placed in the midst of territorial development dynamics on different levels – from the Macro-Regional Strategy for the Alps (EUSALP) and the Alpine Convention to local initiatives and projects. These are moving at different speeds. The aim and challenge for the actions of all Alpine regions however remains their territorial cohesion and competitiveness.

Peripheral regions are now test-beds for new models of living, experiments with new forms of agriculture are taking place in the Alpine valleys and   old crafts are being revived. In densely populated areas, measures are being taken to reduce CO2 emissions and create social housing, just as in cities that are some distance from the Alps.

During its presidency of the Alpine Convention between 2012 and 2014, Italy commissioned a number of working groups to address such issues as reducing the digital divide, the demographic transition, the influx into mountainous areas, the development of new forms of tourism and the role of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, to name but a few. At the centre was the idea of an inhabited mountain region seen from the perspective of stakeholders and networks: today, as we approach a Macro-Regional Strategy for the Alps, this idea is even more important.

The incoming German presidency of the Alpine Convention must now more than ever ensure that the guidelines of the Convention are applied. When we talk about quality of life in the Alps, we must be aware of the specific regional differences that exist there. The Alpine Convention’s “Declaration on Population and Culture” should now be reviewed, as proposed by CIPRA Italy at its workshop on the occasion of the Alpine conference held on 20 November 2014 in Turin: emphasis was placed on the importance of pursuing a standard of living in the Alps based on a reduced consumption of resources, as well as of a strengthened Alpine culture.

This awareness of our own identity is a prerequisite for dialogue with non-Alpine areas, as envisaged in the Macro-Regional Strategy as well as in certain national laws. This broad dialogue must also create the foundations to promote resource-efficient lifestyles and economic systems in the Alps to ensure that the Alps of the future are creative, thriving and innovative, capable of acting as a pioneer for other regions.