The involvement of locals – here, an example of a public opinion survey in Italy – is crucial (Source: Comitato referendum consultivo Val Pusteria).
The Impact of Public Policies on Alpine Development:
The development of the Alps is influenced by the interaction of various sector policies issued on regional, national, European or trans-national level. Although for some years, several policy programmes refer to the concept of sustainability and tend to strengthen integrated approaches of development, it is still difficult to put the intentions into practice. The transformation of attitudes and procedures which is necessary for implementing sustainable development is still in their early stages.
Implementing Policies with Sustainability Aims:
Sustainable development requires objectives in terms of development (socio-spatial fairness, economic efficiency and respect for the natural environment) as well as organisational principles (consultation, assessment, local governance). The methods of implementing public policies are just as important, if not more so, than the expected results.
Involvement of Locals:
The degree to which local actors and stakeholders involve themselves in the implementation of policies is most important. Sustainable development policies require stakeholders to be able to transform general objectives into local and individual ones.
Regional Intermediate Organisations:
Public policies and their implementation mechanisms differ considerably between the Alpine countries with a more federal or a more centralised political tradition. In any case the existence of regional intermediate organisations, providing an interface between private and public players and between different economic sectors, is most important for involving locals and mobilising them for regional development.
Reasons for Implementation Gaps:
What hinders the implementation of public policies with sustainability objectives? A lack of information and knowledge may prevent local players from adopting “sustainable” attitudes. If adequate procedures for stakeholder convergence are lacking conflicting interests will not be balanced. Power games and the persistence of existing structures may hinder learning procedures, agreements and long-term solutions.
What Can Be Done? Strengthening Prospective and Integrated Approaches:
Policies and instruments that incorporate sustainable development need a long-term perspective. Cross-sector approaches are to be strengthened by creating adequate organisational structures. Improving the coherence of public polices across different territorial levels and various sectors is a persistent challenge, in particular the balance between development and regulation aspects.
What Can Be Done? Boosting the Strengths of Regions:
Political decision makers should join forces with local players to enhance resources on site and further consolidate existing strengths. A public policy that meets the territorial needs through a participatory process with stakeholders is likely to be successful. Information exchange and co-ordination of stakeholders are key areas for making policies more sustainable.
What Can Be Done? Learning From One Another:
Sustainable regional development policies need reflection and a highly developed evaluation culture which encourages learning processes. A policy evaluation should be not only an instrument of assessment and controlling, but also enable the evaluated organisations to find solutions for detected deficits. Thus evaluations are able to motivate the regional actors and to stimulate action.
The following best-practise examples illustrate that all kinds of players manage to come together and that individual models of co-operation need to be drawn up. What is always of utmost importance in each case is a specially committed person who assumes a key role and ensures good levels of communication between all the parties concerned.