From 11 to 13 April, at the invitation of the DAV, the CAA Nature Conservation Commission met at the Centre for Environment and Culture (ZUK) in Benediktbeuern. In addition to an extensive exchange of information and experience on current focuses and projects in the associations, the main topics on the agenda this time were "big predators" and "common tools". For example, the Commission decided to adapt an already published folder of the Alpine Association South Tyrol with tips for mountain hikers for an encounter with bears to become a common tool for all CAA associations. In addition, DAV and SAC presented implementation examples of the CAA climate strategy and the CAA reported on current events in the context of the Alpine Convention. On the last morning, an excursion to the moor area near the Benediktbeuern monastery rounded off the meeting.
From 2 until 4 April 2019, the delegations of the alpine states, the ministers and observers met for the Permanent Committee (PC 67) and the 15th Alpine Conference in Innsbruck. Main topics were climate change and soil preservation. Additonally, as a stage to the next Alpweek, the "Alpweek Intermezzo" took place, at the same time as Alpine Conference and the conclusion of the Austrian Presidency of the Alpine Convention. Now France took over the Presidency for the next two years. The CAA was one of the "Intermezzo"- partners, also the ÖAV was involved, presenting the campaign “Unsere Alpen” of DAV, ÖAV + AVS.
The Alpine Conference approved a political declaration concerning climate change and, a bit more concrete, the so called climate target system, which was developed by the “Alpine climate advisory board” during the last two years The next step is to develop concrete measures from the objectives.
Regarding the topic soil preservation the Alpine Conference approved the report of the Compliance Committee with its rather ambitious and far-reaching recommendations developed during the last three years. The states now are asked “to take all necessary steps to implement the recommendations, and to ensure the dissemination of recommendations to municipalities and regional planning levels”. They have to report about the implementation in April 2024 (to the Compliance Committee).
Additionally the Alpine Conference adopted a work plan until the next Alpine Conference, coordinated and related to the MAP (multiannual work programme). This includes the results of the reorganization of the WGs and platforms, with which the PC dealt extensively last year. The number of WGs and PFs has been reduced and aligned with the MAP, the multiannual work programme.
Some observer organisations, including the CAA, had formulated urgent "concerns to strengthen the Alpine Convention" to the ministers in advance, with which they urged a faster and more concrete implementation of the Alpine Convention. The concerns were noted by the conference and will hopefully be taken up and discussed at the next meetings of the Permanent Committee.
The term of office of General Secretary of the Alpine Convention, Markus Reiterer, ends in June. The Alpine Conference now nominated Mrs Alenka Smerkolj, former Slovene Minister responsible for Development, Strategic Projects and Cohesion and Minister of Finance. She’s also professor for French and Spanish at the University of Ljubljana.
On Wednesday, 3.4., about 60 participants developed political demands within the framework of a closed event, which were presented to the environment ministers of the Alpine countries on 4 April 2019. They dealt with the three topics of land and landscape, climate change and mobility:
"Value the landscape - don’t sell it cheap!" was the first postulation. Clear boundaries are needed to preserve the unique natural environment of the Alps and criteria for identifying areas worthy of protection. Demand two dealt with climate change, which needs to be tackled at all levels. Climate protection and adaptation takes place at local level, so communities need better support both financially and organisationally. It was also emphasised that regional and alpine-wide initiatives must be better networked in order to make better use of existing knowledge.
The third demand to the Alpine Convention stated: "Implement efficient mobility solutions throughout the Alpine region". The high traffic load of the Alpine valleys requires intelligent measures to promote a switch to public transport and alternative mobility solutions. The participants' ideas ranged from a better-timed and cheaper public transport service to mobile ticketing and the expansion of combined transport systems.
In the public part of the "Alpweek Intermezzo" on Thursday, 4.4., the Tyrolean photographer Lois Hechenblaikner took a critical look at current developments in Alpine tourism in his photo presentation. Natael Fautrat from Chambéry sketched out a vision for the future of the Alps from the perspective of young people.
The rest of the day was dedicated to good ideas: Presentations and market stands invited the participants to discuss initiatives from the Alpine region that are already being implemented. In the end, cabaret artist Markus Koschuh summed up the conference in an entertaining and provocative poetry slam: "We never want more! Because the tears of the Alps are the mudflows and avalanches, so it hardly takes roads, but rails. Happiness in the Alps: no step forward, one step back."
The event was rather successful with engaged discussions and good feedback. A documentation will be available in the near term on the website www.alpweek.org.