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Taking small steps together

Oct 20, 2016
Last week’s AlpWeek held in Grassau/DE saw the focus on people and their relations with the Alps. The topics of migration and youth participation were particular subjects of discussion.
Different topics, interactive sessions, multicultural audience - lively exchanges took place at AlpWeek under the slogan "Alps and people" "Alps and People"
Image caption:
Different topics, interactive sessions, multicultural audience - lively exchanges took place at AlpWeek under the slogan "Alps and people" "Alps and People" © CIPRA International

Progress can only be made together, in small steps: this was a central fact recognised in numerous discussions during the fourth AlpWeek held from 11 to 15 October 2016 in Grassau, Germany. Harald Welzer of Futurzwei for instance highlighted social relationships and processes, as he stressed at the opening of the international conference held under the slogan “Alps and People”, stating: “It is not technical but rather social intelligence we need.” According to historian Bernhard Tschofen of the University of Zurich, Switzerland, the issue is to bridge the divide between the Alps and the surrounding areas, between city and country, traditional and modern as well as incomers and locals. Sandrine Percheval of the French organisation Adrets and Anne Lassman-Trappier of Environn'Mont Blanc addressed these very different spheres.

Fruitful exchanges between generations

The 400 participants from every Alpine country included numerous young people. “At AlpWeek 2012 we were more or less decoration”, says Luzia Felder from Entlebuch, Switzerland, a member of the CIPRA youth advisory council. This year it was completely different. “We were part of the whole, we could ask questions and people listened to us.” Markus Reiterer, general secretary of the Permanent Secretariat of the Alpine Convention, also found the exchanges inspiring: “It is easier to be bold if we exchange ideas with young people.”
In its contributions, CIPRA brought the discussion of values to centre stage. The fourth and final stage of the “Youth Alpine Express” and the climate game “100max” addressed the issue of sustainable lifestyles. The workshop entitled “Da röhrt der Hirsch, da rauscht der Bach [Where the deer bellows and the stream rushes]” discussed the idea of wilderness, which arouses different emotions wherever it is mentioned. “We must speak of values, not of definitions”, stressed one participant from the field of science.

The Alpine Convention: coming closer to people

Another component of AlpWeek was the 14th Conference of the Alpine Convention. Among other things, environment ministers adopted the long-term work programme for the years 2017 to 2022, with a focus on people and culture as one of its priorities.
Austria, which took over the presidency from Germany at Grassau, will in the next two years add the role of women in mountain regions as another issue within the area of culture. Austria will also emphasise traffic and mobility, mountain farming and mountain forests, nature conservation, water, climate change, energy and natural hazards. An Alpine status report will be prepared on the latter topic.
AlpWeek was organised by CIPRA, ISCAR, the “Alpine Town of the Year” association, the “Alliance in the Alps”, the CAA, the Permanent Secretariat of the Alpine Convention, the Interreg Alpine Space programme and Ökomodell Achental. The German Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, and the Bavarian Ministry for the Environment and Consumer Protection provided financial support.

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