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Turning risks into opportunities

Aug 09, 2017
On this October afternoon in the Swiss region of Surselva, the hotel in Vals is a hive of activity as a group of people discuss and gesticulate in German and Romansh. They’re engaged in an exchange of views on the opportunities, risks, and future of the valley in the wake of climate change.

The workshop on “Adaptation to Climate Change in Surselva” as part of the Climate Toolbox Project provided an opportunity for regional decision-makers and stakeholders in agriculture, tourism and water management to join forces and draw up strategies for their region. The Toolbox was designed by the Surselva Region, the Swiss consultancy and project development company seecon, the environmental organisation Mountain Wilderness Switzerland, and CIPRA International.

Climate change is one of the 21st century’s greatest challenges. Global warming will have a far-reaching economic, ecological and social impact on the Alps as a living environment. But the phenomenon is so complex that it remains rather abstract and difficult to convey. There is often a lack of knowledge and of methods for offsetting the changes brought about by climate change. What resources are available within the region, and what can be done? Where are changes anticipated as a result of climate change? This is precisely the point at which the Climate Toolbox comes into play. Its aim is to provide a holistic understanding of climate change. On that basis the stakeholders involved are able to develop strategies for their region, as indeed they did at the Surselva workshop. The solutions jointly drawn up and implemented then become sustainable in the long term.

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“Our experiences with the Climate Toolbox in the Surselva region have shown that, rather than closing our eyes to climate change, we need to scan the horizon together and look for new opportunities. If all the region’s stakeholders join forces to work together on the solution, we can open up new avenues and seize new opportunities.”

Urs Giezendanner, Director, Surselva/CH Regional Development