Development Trends in the Alps



Future sustainable development of the alpine space needs to place emphasis on the following aspects:

  • Spatial balance within the Alps
  • The balance between development and conservation approaches
  • Knowledge transfer as an important development tool
  • Enhancement of inter-sectoral co-operation and regional governance

Spatial Balance Within the Alps

The diversity of regional conditions also calls for diversified public policies and greater sensibility for specific regional and local situations. Furthermore, public policies must help to reduce the gap between prosperous and less favoured regions within the Alps by considering the problems of lagging rural regions and by promoting urban-rural partnerships.

Actors in rural regions will require efficient policy support to be able to benefit economically from regional resources, one of which is cultural landscape. On the other hand, in prosperous alpine areas such as urbanised valleys or areas of intensive tourism, policy action must tackle phenomena of growth, i.e. they need to reduce development pressure on landscapes and manage land-use conflicts. Furthermore, new strategies for alpine tourism facing major current challenges should also contribute to a more balanced development of the alpine space.

The Balance Between Development and Conservation Approaches

The future sustainable development of the alpine space requires a balanced application of different policy approaches that reconciles regulation and development incentives. As to what regards public policies, on the one hand improvements are required in the evaluation and consideration of spatial impact and landscape effects of development- oriented sector policies (e.g. infrastructure, technology or agriculture policies); on the other hand, nature and landscape protection policies should not exclude economic aspects. Acceptance of protection policies can be substantially increased in protected areas if the local population is involved and conservation aims are reconciled with local development interests. Biodiversity aims can be achieved if nature protection strategies are integrated with agri-environmental measures and spatial plans. Generally speaking, enhancement of cross-sectoral approaches and integrated regional strategies will be one of the most important future challenges for public policies.

Knowledge Transfer as an Important Development Tool

The experience of "Future in the Alps" and other initiatives shows that there is already a lot of practical knowledge existing. In addition there are numerous best practice examples in the different fields, which could be useful for different regional actors.

What is missing is the systematic approach towards knowledge transfer in regional development and regional policy. Therefore, regional actors re-invent the wheel again and again.

Inter-Sectoral Co-operation and Regional Governance

The growing need for cross-sector approaches and coordinated action implies the enhancement of dialogue and better cooperation between sectoral policies and administrations. At all levels, from the European to the local, adequate and effective cooperation mechanisms must be implemented and promoted. Furthermore, since alpine countries and regions must meet future challenges and adapt to new demands, values and lifestyles, public policies need to adopt a prospective, future oriented approach.

The sustainable development of alpine regions calls for not only integrated regional strategies but also more bottom-up approaches, participatory procedures and empowerment. In many cases it will be necessary to encourage dialogue between different stakeholder groups, to improve cooperation structures within the regions, and to enhance exchanges with other regions.

Regional governance implies finding common languages and cooperation frameworks across societal groups. In view of rapid social changes and growing uncertainties, regional governance also comprises change management, i.e. support for the regional population in apprehending change and adapting new and unknown situations. The use of different, well-known and innovative communication and participation tools should help to overcome real and mental barriers.

partly taken from PFEFFERKORN, EGLI & MASSARUTTO (2005), p. 201 ff.

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Further Readings & Links

CASTIGLIONI et al. (2004)
Developing integrated cultural landscape scenarios in the Alps for the year 2020. Work Package Report of the REGALP project.