Change Management


Systemic Alpine Development

The involvement of all interest groups is necessary in a successful change process (Source: CIPRA).

Development processes in the Alps take place within a complex sphere of activities. Early participation of all involved interest groups is necessary in order to avoid conflicts and find ways to enable cooperative management and use of landscape resources in the Alps. For in contrast to conventional procedures, a participatory planning process offers the possibility to find solutions that are agreeable to all participating interest groups, since in this process ‘win-win’ rather than ‘win-lose’ solutions are strived for right from the start.

Simple dialog between the different parties is normally often not sufficient to overcome barriers to understanding and emotional hurdles. So that solutions applicable to sustainable development can be found which will be supported by the relevant interest groups, social learning processes are required through which the involved parties are empowered to participate in the following tasks:

  • System reflection in terms of holistic perception of problem situations and development opportunities,
  • Self-organisation and conflict settlement, so that the stakeholders (individuals and organisations) in an action system can agree on common rules, goals and strategies
  • Innovation, providing new options for action, which are advantageous in comparison to current practice.
Further Readings & Links

The Handbook of public participation (in German and English). The book gives an overview of public participation and Austrian practice examples.

"Future in the Alps Workshop"
Workshop on Cooperative Decision-Making and Conflict Management in Public Planning and Environment (in English).

Tools that structure and steer this social learning process are required for development processes to succeed. Systemic Landscape Development offers a "toolbox" that has proven itself in practice. It provides a framework within which interest groups can enter a development process to mutually form a holistic understanding of the action system and its cause and effect relationships, and as a result attain the competency to jointly use and manage resources such as the landscape and its products in a sustainable way.

Key Tools of Systemic Landscape Development (see Chapter "Tool Box")

  • Organisational learning
  • Stakeholder platforms and innovation co-operations
  • Model moderation and mental models
  • Participative project-progress-control
Framework of Systemic Landscape Development (Source: J. Heeb).

Experiences with Systemic Landscape Development show that the particular interests of stakeholders in use and management of landscape resources prove not to be as incompatible as might appear from the individual's perspective. The usefulness of this approach, therefore, is that of it enabling the various interest groups to form a mutual understanding of the influences and interactions between each other as well as the external prevailing circumstances, thereby finding options for action that they would not have thought of from their individual perspectives.

Participatory work processes require suitable organisational structures that create the necessary general setting and conditions. This role is fulfilled both by stakeholder platforms, the 'free zone' for development of mutual project ideas, and innovation co-operations, the 'operational' level dealing with implementation of measures.

Voluntariness and freedom from obligation amongst the involved stakeholders are of central importance in enabling a social learning process, because this facilitates open communication allowing the participants to freely and objectively discuss their interests without entering into any concrete commitments in the process. An organisation in the form of a stakeholder platform, in which the participants form a structured and organised social network, lends itself to this purpose. Stakeholder platforms provide the participants with the necessary basis and structure (also security) for their work and activities. Through their volunteer and obligation free nature, they make it possible for the participating individuals and organisations to:

  • Communicate openly, which fosters transparency and trust
  • Work out a mutual concept about the connections, links and developments within the action system
  • Develop joint project ideas
  • Jointly reflect on and assess development processes.

The stakeholder platforms hereby provide the various stakeholders with new starting points and the facility to dispel long established fears and reservations. An innovative work atmosphere is created, through which traditional viewpoints can be overcome, creating room for new findings and ideas.

The more clearly and tangibly the group has defined its objectives, the greater their desire becomes 'to actually do something'. However, the organisational structure of a stakeholder platform is unsuitable for the implementation of actual tangible projects, because binding commitments are consciously avoided at this level. This task is taken over by innovation co-operations, that:

  • Encompass professional business and project management structures
  • Secure the project work legally and financially, for example through the formation of a company
  • Guarantee quality assurance at the product and services level.
  • Innovation co-operations can either be newly established or realised together with existing organisations. They remain in close contact with the stakeholder platform during the entire process of project implementation.
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NRP 48 (2005)
Alpendialog: This thematic issue of the Swiss National Research Programme 48 has a special focus on a new "conversation culture" in the Alps.

Local environmental management in a North-South perspective: issues of participation and knowledge management.