New Forms of Decision Making


"Hot Spots" of Decision Making in the Alps

In the following, the so-called "hot spot"-issues in regard to decision making in different thematic fields and policy sectors, which are important for the Alpine future, are discussed.
Further Readings & Links

Hot Spot: Regional Value Added

Setting up and running regional value added chains as successful co-operation ventures

The continuous changes in the political and economic framework (see tutorial Regional Value Added) lead to an increased complexity and uncertainty with regard to individual and collective decision making processes and to different problems or challenges for local or regional actors:

  1. Increasing number of potential negotiating partners: Increasingly, local or regional actors will have to negotiate with extra-regional – and powerful – actors like e.g. national authorities or regional, national or international grocery chains (e.g. Carrefour for France or Migros and Coop for Switzerland) with their corresponding political or economic agendas.
  1. Raising information needs regarding administrative, economic and political contexts and developments: Interrelated with point 1, today’s decision making processes are embedded into complex structures and procedures: ongoing projects and political initiatives as well as involved institutions have to be considered. This requires information activities on a high quality level.
  2. Increasing complexity of the economic and political contexts and developments: decision making – especially in tourism or agricultural sector – has to cope with
    • the raising cost intensity,
    • the high requirement for knowledge,
    • the need for product standardisation
    • the complex legal framework of today’s food production which reduce the room for manoeuvre for economic decisions of local or regional actors.
    The difficult challenge is to maintain the regional and "authentic" character of the products and to satisfy the needs of a more and more globalised food and tourism market.
  3. Raising coordination needs are a consequence for the creation of reasonable product and service chains. Often, new organisations, institutions or institutional actors need to establish themselves and gain social legitimacy to develop or implement new rules and regulations. In Italy, for instance, lacking coordination efforts between the label agencies and policies and difficulties regarding the adhesion to the European Commission Systems DOP (Denominazione d'Origine Protetta, E: PDO) and IGP (Indicazione Geografica Protetta, E: PGI) procedures are seen as an origin of the difficulties the corresponding products face on the market (see
Regional players must learn to master this growing complexity of the decision-making process. The experts believe that support programmes should therefore boost the exchange of information between players. They should promote networks and co-operation ventures, and they should improve the negotiating skills of the regional players.

Innovative traditional and cultural productions play an important role in Alpine regions to maintain a certain standard of living and working opportunities (Source: Uli Reinhardt / ZEITENSPIEGEL).

LARDELLI et al. (2006)
"Future in the Alps" report on regional value added, answering the following question: How can endogenous potential for creating product and service chains with a high regional value added be used successfully?

Hot Spot: Governance Capacity

Complement state-run services and preserve and strengthen the governance capacity of people and institutions in the Alps

Today, Alpine regions are affected by several macro-trends, which reduce the governance capacities of local and regional social systems (see also tutorial Governance Capacity):
  1. National or international political and economic concentration processes reduce the scope of local and regional stakeholders.
  2. Migration processes originating in various reasons often cause losses of intellectual, social and economic capital in peripheral regions.
  3. Immigration and urbanisation processes in certain mountain regions can overstrain or even destabilise traditional governance systems.
  4. Increasing social fragmentation, the weakening of social ties or the decreasing interest for public life aggravate the above mentioned effects.

These macro-trends reduce the abilities to self-organise the political, economic and social life on a local level in the Alps (seetutorial governance capacity).

The team of experts concludes that in the future, governance capacity can only be improved through greater co-operation between the local population and incomers, between old and young, and by embracing new models of decision-making:

  • Negotiating, testing and implementing new regional or local models of public services which are a) of good quality and b) appropriate in peripheral or remote areas.
  • Proactively integrating existing knowledge and experiences with regard to e.g. public-private partnerships or local initiatives in different sectors like transportation, communication or medical care (knowledge management).
  • Negotiating development paths against the background of increasing social fragmentation and generating opportunities to develop the intellectual and social potentials of different groups in order to assume responsibility for the local socio-political context with a special focus on the needs of young, elderly but also higher educated persons.
  • Developing incentives to promote regional collaboration in order to achieve the critical mass for an effective self-governance.

DEBARBIEUX et al. (2006)
"Future in the Alps" report on governance capacity, answering the following questions: What is it – other than economic and ecological aspects – that prompts people to stay in the Alps or to move to the Alps? How can we consolidate the governance capacity of individuals and communities?

Hot Spot: Protected Areas

Establish protected areas according to efficient concepts of nature conservation and management and with the involvement of all those concerned

Protected areas can be viewed as supportive tools for regional development and vice versa (Source: Rainer Kwiotek / ZEITENSPIEGEL).
The creation and maintenance of protected areas often face several difficulties (see also tutorial Protected Areas):
  1. Existing conflicts between national or regional administrative units and local authorities about the implementation of use and protection regimes, often as a consequence of lacking well timed and sufficient information, bottom-up cooperation for establishing new areas and providing effective management plans for the existing ones.
  2. Existing land use conflicts between agriculture and nature protection constitute a problematic starting point for the creation of new protected areas.
  3. Amongst others, these prevailing conflicts of ideologies and goals result in low local or even regional support for the creation of a new protected area itself and the intervention in traditional use practice. Moreover, there is only little support of potential regional opinion leaders.
  4. All these aspects often result in a low local formal participation level during the development of the protection area’s goals and measures which is one of the major causes for low legitimacy in the local or even regional context.
The team of experts concludes that procedural questions of opinion building and decision making will be essential for the successful creation of new and the maintenance of existing natural parks – and for their application as instruments of sustainable regional development.

Following aspects are relevant:
  • Analytical competence regarding the social and economic context of existing or new natural parks or other types of nature-protection areas
  • Procedural skills to organise and execute participatory processes with binding rules of procedure
  • In particular: capabilities to search for, define and implement synergies from protected areas with regional economies and local societies in a participatory approach
  • Participatory development of implementation and monitoring systems to increase the legitimacy of new and existing protected areas
  • Networking strategies to interconnect the existing experiences with the successful implementation and maintenance of protected areas in order to gain acceptance and legitimisation in the local or regional context.

JUNGMEIER et al. (2006)
This CIPRA "Future in the Alps" Report gives answers to the following questions: Can large protected areas be instruments of sustainable development and at the same time suitable instruments for protecting natural diversity?

The article analyses the social processes during the proposed extension of the Swiss National Park between 1996 and 2000 from a participatory viewpoint.

Hot Spot: Transport Planning

Contribution of new forms of decision-making towards sustainable transport planning

There are two main trends in the Alpine regions and they are moving in opposite directions (see also tutorial Mobility Management):

Leisure mobility not only threatens Alpine ecology but can also negatively influence the life quality of the affected population (Source: Christoph Püschner / ZEITENSPIEGEL).
  1. Public transport services are thinned out or even cancelled in all Alpine countries. Consequently, the mobility opportunities of younger or elderly persons without private cars are constrained more and more.
  2. On the other hand, increasing commuter, tourism or leisure mobility not only threatens Alpine ecology but also negatively influences the life quality of the affected population (e.g. because of noise and air pollution).

In the opinion of the authors of the CIPRA study, there is a lack here of both political will and instruments for promoting "soft" forms of mobility. In order to effectively approach the existing mobility problems and to find socially legitimised solutions, new forms of opinion building and decision making are required. But there are also far too few co-operation platforms on which a fair balance between those involved might be struck.

One of the key findings of the CIPRA experts is that nearly all best practice examples found in the field of mobility are characterised by participatory approaches and the involvement of citizens.

ACKERMANN et al. (2006)
"Future in the Alps" report of Project Question 4: Leisure, Tourism and Commuter Mobility, answering the following questions: How are mobility and the development of regional structures connected? What solutions are there to fast growing leisure, tourism and commuter mobility?

Preparing and implementing political strategies

In all Alpine countries, there are longstanding difficulties to effectively implement norms, regulations or concepts in certain policy fields like mobility, spatial planning, or nature and environment protection. Causes and rationale for the known difficulties can be seen in different fields:

  • Disputed or unclear distribution of duties and responsibilities between different state levels paralyses implementation processes.
  • Lacking political will for policy implementation and prevailing conflicts of interests or ideologies between the involved groups hinder the effectiveness of policy implementation.
  • Lacking resources for implementation: The above mentioned increase of complexity of policies and regulations overstrains the resources of certain local communities. However, the transfer of responsibilities of local political bodies and organisations to regional combines is politically disputed.
  • Lack of trust between the relevant regional or local actors like for example public authorities, interest groups or NGOs due to e.g. failed or instrumentalised participatory initiatives or general mistrust.
The team of experts proposes a strong link between the adoption of adequate forms of decision making and the effectiveness of policy implementation with regard to sustainable development.

When political strategies and concepts are drawn up, it has been shown that involving different pressure and lobby groups in the preparations helps to ensure that programmes are better adapted to the needs of the target groups.
Main Menu To top Continue