Political Framework in the Alps


Recommendations for More Sustainable Public Policies

Adopting a Prospective Attitude

By the means of EU subsidies, the incomes and investions have risen and thus make it possible for certain traditional professions to survive. Local participation can aid in creating regional value added. (Source: CIPRA).
Policies and instruments that incorporate sustainable development demand more time than ad-hoc solutions: time to think matters through and carefully consider the options, medium- and long-term planning, openness towards new learning processes, and a readiness to regularly evaluate the policy tools. Further, the long-term perspectives of local/regional projects supported from public budgets have to be secured across the limits of funding periods.

Strengthening Cross-Sector Approaches

Although "inter-departmental approaches" and "breaking down barriers" may have become common keywords, they are also frequently observed shortcomings at all territorial scales, illustrating the power of departmentalised public action. The players within the public administration need to develop an adequate organisational configuration which allows for improving the information exchange, incorporating different viewpoints and boosting cross-sector collaboration. In order to apply the desired cross-sector approaches, more knowledge about successful governance methods is needed. Notably regional level integrated policy approaches should be strengthened. The positive experiences with intermediate organisations such as the Austrian regional management organisations should be taken into account.

Further Readings & Links

Boosting the Strengths of Regions

Regional policies should give attention to local resources and territorial assets. Political decision makers should join forces with local players to enhance resources on site and consolidate existing strengths further. A public policy that encounters the territorial needs through a participatory process with stakeholders has good chances of success. Local participation processes can for instance help to set up new protected areas or establish regional value-added chains.

Coordinating Development and Regulation

Generally, the coherence of public policies across the different sectors and across the different territorial levels is a persistent challenge that needs a good evaluation culture. In particular, policies focusing on development aspects need a good regulatory frame. Public policies have to limit damaging action by making regulations and setting rules, e.g. for preventing negative environmental or social effects of the economic development of regions. Public subsidies should be bound to a sustainability check of the project in question. In general, transparency is a precondition for the balance between development and regulation aspects: only if trade-offs and conflicts between sector policies become apparent, they can be tackled.

Learning from Policy Evaluations

More policy programmes than ever have been evaluated during the last decade, with a considerable improvement of the evaluation methods. We recommend that policy evaluations should not merely be seen as a unilateral quality control, but as an opportunity for learning together, e.g. by furthering the self-evaluation of local groups, as happened in the Austrian LEADER evaluation, or by installing a dialogue forum between the evaluators, the persons responsible for policy design on national level and those responsible for the local implementation. Reflection and dialogue present new ways, motivate all the players and enable them to find their own solutions to the recognised problems. Thus, practical experience gained from regional development can be incorporated more effectively into programmes and subsidy instruments.
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