Regional Value Added


Regional Value Added

Deploring the exodus of the population and the proliferation of tourism, and doing nothing about it, is one approach; the other, far more constructive solution is to show how money can be earned, and secure jobs created, using the resources available locally.

Adapted from: LARDELLI et al. (2006) and CIPRA (2007)

compiled by Sandra Eichenberger, seecon international gmbh

With 158.000 inhabitants, Grenoble is the largest city in the Alps. Often, smog polluts the air (Source: Eric Vazzoler / ZEITENSPIEGEL).
Rural regions show often little economic growth and a low variety of job opportunities compared to urban and peri-urban regions. With increasing global liberalisation and structural change in agriculture, jobs in rural areas of the Alps have often been lost during the last decades, resulting in continual population loss in some areas. In fact, starting from an analysis of the actual situation based on the data on the town scale, which is the most appropriate one for the alpine context, various studies like REGALP and BÄTZING 2000 propose a reading of the destiny of the Alps that show some main development trends:
  • growth of urban, sub-urban and peri-urban areas,
  • high concentration close to industrialised and tourist areas,
  • areas of depopulation are characterised by the presence of high quality ecosystems, but also by the abandonment of those traditional activities that contributed to the creation of that particular Alpine landscape.
  • other areas have transformed into relatively vulnerable tourist resorts or into commuter communes with often negative ecological and social effects.

On the other hand, more and more areas in the alps are getting depopulated, such as e.g. the Onsernone valley in the border area of Switzerland and Italy (Source: M. Kropac).
An important focus of regional development strategies in Alpine areas is therefore to maintain or even increase the diversity of job opportunities and the regional added value of such rural regions without compromising the sustainable use of their natural resources.

Natural resources in Alpine regions are often limited and vulnerable due to climatic and topographical conditions, but frequently show a high value and uniqueness in terms of their ecological quality and production methods. The uniqueness of different Alpine landscapes and cultural characteristics itself are often considered to be their most important endogenous resources.

Therefore, it is necessary to take as much advantage as possible out of these existing natural resources of Alpine areas and use them in a sustainable way.

Natural resources in Alpine regions show often a high value and uniqueness in terms of their ecological quality and production methods (Source: CIPRA).
If endogenous resources are used to built up successful and sustainable regional product and service chains, these chains are highly valuable for two reasons: Firstly, they allow to use the existing natural resources in a sustainable way and within short distances, and secondly, they allow to create and maintain jobs within Alpine regions, which are closely linked to the existing and well conserved natural resources (and their biodiversity); thus, they are less vulnerable to external changes.

Success factors governing regional chains of production and services which make use of endogenous resources (social and cultural identity, land use, farming etc.) need to be identified for a sustainable regional development

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Further Readings & Links

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?

CIPRA Info 82
From timber construction to hay wraps: This article on regional value added deals with various possibilitis to create economic benefits in Alpine regions with innovative approaches.

DAX (2001)
Endogenous development in Austria’s mountain regions: From a source of irritation to a mainstream movement.

Endogenous development in Swiss mountain communities: Local initiatives in Urnäsch and Schamserberg.