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“There's no other way”

Jul 29, 2019 / alpMedia
As a minister, 55-year-old Slovenian Alenka Smerkolj has already drawn up a strategy for Slovenia's sustainable development. As Secretary General of the Alpine Convention, she now intends to continue along this path.
Image caption:
Alenka Smerkolj from Slovenia succeeds Markus Reiterer from Austria as the new Secretary General of the Alpine Convention. © Alpine Convention

Alenka Smerkolj replaced Markus Reiterer as Secretary General of the Alpine Convention on 15 July 2019. Her first engagements as the new Secretary General of the Alpine Convention will take her to the heads of the Alpine Convention offices in Bolzano in Italy and Innsbruck in Austria, after which talks will be held in all other Alpine countries. “I would like to personally get to know all the interest groups with which we are working”.

Politics instead of banking

Smerkolj gave up a long career in banking and financial management in 2014 to become Slovenia's Minister for Development and, for a short time, of Finance – a major change, as she herself says today. “Unlike in the banking business, I now had to make decisions for the benefit of everyone in society.” She also developed the “Vision of Slovenia 2050”, which hundreds of citizens took part in at events throughout Slovenia and can also be credited with Slovenia's 2017 national development strategy, based upon the United Nations' sustainability goals until 2030. According to Smerkolj, all this has made her a “passionate advocate of sustainable development”.

The biggest problem – the “silo mentality”

The Alps as a pioneering region for sustainable living in the heart of Europe – this vision of the future of the Alpine Convention is also supported by Alenka Smerkolj: “I find myself fully and utterly there again”. But one of the biggest problems in the Alpine region and worldwide is the silo mentality, as she sees it. Everyone sees solutions, but only for their own issues and challenges. But problems like climate change affect all sectors, from the economy to energy and transport. Here, networked, systemic thinking is needed. The 2015 sustainability goals of the United Nations would help, says the new Secretary General of the Alpine Convention. “There’s no other way for our planet.

The interview on the article can be listened to in full here as a podcast in English – Alenka Smerkolj talks about her role as the first female Secretary General of the Alpine Convention and reveals her personal favourite place in the Alps.


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