Towns and Rural Areas in the Alps


Key Issues and Recommendations

The duties and responsibilities of towns in the Alpine space are not considered sufficiently in the Alpine discussion, especially in framework of the Alpine Convention. However, as 60% of the Alpine population live in urban areas, this majority cannot be ignored by policy makers aiming for sustainable development.

Brig-Glis in Switzerland is the Alpine Town of the year 2008 (Source:
  • Programmes and government declarations (municipal, regional and national legislations) should make sure that Alpine towns take responsibilities for rural areas in the Alps, especially regarding the protection of nature, landscape and a socially and environmentally compatible development.

  • Alpine towns should promote traditional and new economic activities that create value added, retain the regional strengths and can guarantee the social and territorial cohesion of Alpine cities with their rural surroundings.

  • On an international and national political level, Alpine towns should be supported to improve their quality of life, and in particular to upgrade the attractiveness for the inhabitants.

  • Development potentials and opportunities for the Alpine regions in the context of the European competition are to be found in the creation of networks. Towns – as triggers of the regional competition – must assume an active role in the creation of networks between municipalities and regions with the goal to reinforce their own social and cultural identities and their social and economic competitiveness.

  • Improve the exchange relationship between Alpine and non-Alpine towns, in particular concerning the sectors of nature and environment, population and culture, science and innovation.

  • The emigration and the lack of land use in the mountains and peripheral areas cause that forests and bushlands grow more and more. This is considered negative by most people. Nevertheless, recent discussions have lead to the identification of new opportunities and different uses for emigration areas. It is increasingly suggested that not all places be kept habitable at any price. It is crucial to keep this discussion going.
The problem of urban sprawl is an increasingly larger challenge for spatial planners. Entire regions are becoming peri-urban areas of towns and cities. People will have to pass through longer distances to leave cities, and regions will get more and more multi-functional. As there are neither clear boarder lines nor a clear distribution of functions, a holistic territorial planning is needed, that takes into account these new relationships and new functions.
Main Menu To top Continue
Further Readings & Links

"Future in the Alps Workshop"
Link to a workshop on cooperation between urban and rural areas (in French).