Macro-regional strategy: CAA participates in joint initiative of observers of the Alpine Convention
CIPRA-press release, 13.12. 2013:
On 19 December 2013 the European Council will decide whether there should be a European strategy for the Alpine space. States and regions have been working for months on an appropriate proposal – while excluding representatives of civil society. Why the alpine macro-region needs the science, NGOs and municipalities.
The heads of state and government of the European Union will on 19 December 2013 decide on whether the European Commission is to prepare a proposal for a European strategy for the Alpine space. What however are the topics for this macro-region? How will the decision-making processes look? The Alpine states and certain selected regions, co-ordinated by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, have been working for around half a year on a proposal. This document is intended to answer the basic questions and – if a European strategy for the Alpine space comes into being – offer concrete proposals for its implementation. However, representatives of civil society, organisations of nature and environmental conservation, Alpine Associations, science or Alpine municipalities were not allowed to contribute to the drafting process.
EU strategy for the Alpine space: building on experience and success
These networks and NGOs covering the Alps have a long upheld culture of co-operation and exchanges, for example through the Alpine Convention. The Alpine Convention formulates goals for the protection and the sustainable development of the Alps, offers instruments and a basis for co-operation. CIPRA and the networks of municipalities, Alpine Associations and scientists are therefore demanding that the spirit of the Alpine Convention should also live on into an European Strategy for the Alpine space. Eight of these organisations set out their joint demands and proposals for a macro-region in a paper containing considerations on the topics for a macro-region and how the European Community and the Alps will benefit from a common strategy.
Open and transparent processes
The core element of a European strategy for the Alpine space is a new multi-level governance, i.e. an inclusive process, as required by the European Commission. This is also the demand set out by the eight organisations in their paper. “A macro-region will only advance Europe and the Alpine space if it is of benefit to the local population”, says Claire Simon, Executive Director of CIPRA International. NGOs as representatives of the civil society can communicate a complex and new strategy of this type and apply the networking expertise gained in the Alps to Europe. Therefore, however, the NGOs must have a direct voice in the development of an European strategy for the Alpine space.
Joint position paper of the eight organisations Alpine Town of the Year Association, Alliance in the Alps, Club Arc Alpin CAA, International Commission for the Protection of the Alps CIPRA, International Scientific Committee on Research in the Alps ISCAR, proMONT-BLANC, World Wide Fund for Nature WWF, International Union for Conservation of Nature IUCN.
On November 13th, 2013, the Compliance Committee of the Alpine Convention in St. Gallen/CH discussed extensively CAA’s request regarding the suspected non-compliance of the Tyrolian government’s decision (September 2012) to approve the enlargement of the Ischgl ski area on to the top of Piz Val Gronda. CAA presumed that the approval was not in line with art. 6 (3) of the tourism protocol of the Alpine Convention. Due to the vague formulation of that article and the various aspects of interpretation there’s still a need for clarification in the committee. Now the main points of the discussion will be summarized and agreed in writing. In the next meeting in April 2014 –hopefully– the committee will find a clear statement. Furthermore, a kind of interpretative document to art. 6 will be formulated by the committee to facilitate future decisions.
Already the day before the committee dealed with the “deepening phase” of the new compliance mechanism, dedicated to tourism. On the base of a table which showed the deficits in the implementation of the tourism protocol detected by the states themselves there were fixed priorities. The states will now be asked for additional information connected to the implementation of some of the articles, among others article 6.
On October 18th, 2013, the Alpine States and Regions signed a political declaration for a macro-regional strategy for the Alps in Grenoble. This meeting was initiated by France, the civil society – observers of the Alpine Convention and/or other NGOs – were not invited.
The Italian Presidency and the Secretary General of the Alpine Convention, Reiterer, witnessed the signing of the resolution. In a press release of the Permanent Secretariat Reiterer expressed his great hope that the EU will enter an open, constructive and transparent dialog with all relevant stakeholders – the civil society included – during the development of the strategy as such. On 19th of December the European Council is expected to decide if there will be a macro-regional strategy in the Alps at all. On 17th of December a joint conference of Alpine Convention, States and Regions is planned in Bruxelles which is supposed to convince the EU representatives of the benefits of an MRS for the Alps. The NGOs are at least involved in a panel discussion, CIPRA plans to coordinate that.
Press release Permanent Secretariat
Observer organisations of the Alpine Convention are bewildered at their exclusion from the Alpine macro-region. They are demanding their inclusion in the ongoing process for a macro-regional Alpine strategy.
The macro-regional strategy for the Alps is intended to promote future co-operation between the Alpine area and its surrounding regions and cities. This Friday, 18 October 2013, the French Minister for European Affairs, Thierry Repentin is inviting representatives of Alpine regions and countries to a conference in Grenoble. The official observer organisations of the Alpine Convention, i.e. its civil society representatives, are however not on the Minister’s guest list.
The observer organisations have always worked on the Alpine Convention in a constructive manner. They are also equally ready to participate in the development of a macro-regional strategy for the Alps and to make relevant proposals. As the conference in Grenoble is intended to lay the cornerstone for the new strategy, it is vitally important for the observer organisations to be involved. These organisations are also requesting that the goals specified in the Alpine Convention for the protection and sustainable development of the Alps should be taken on board for the macro-region. Their experience in the context of the Alpine Convention over the past 20 years will make an important contribution to a macro-regional Alpine strategy.
CIPRA, ISCAR, ALPARC, AIDA, Alpine Town of the Year, CAA
The 2013 CAA Commission Meetings
The Commission of Nature Protection met in Innsbruck at the start of May. The main topics discussed where the overview of environmental education in the associations with a joint introduction and comments on the Commission of Mountaineering’s draft “Mountain-biking recommendations”. “Alpine spatial planning” is to be prepared in a panel discussion on the subject of macro-regional alpine strategy within the scope of the DAV exhibition on the developmental pressure on the Alps at the end of March 2014. The Commission will also address the subject “Value of the landscape” in the next year.
The Commission of Huts and Trails addressed all issues associated with trails at its meeting in Chamonix in the middle of May: legal aspects and issues of liability, conflicts of use, financing of maintenance, working with tourist organisations, trail sponsorship, problems caused by glacial retreat, etc. Furthermore, the current status of the project on energy efficiency in huts, which is now entering its final phase, was discussed. The Commission proposed Georg Simeoni to the Executive Board for a second term of office as the Commission Chairman; he has since been elected. The next meeting of the Commission will be hosted by the OeAV in the middle of June 2014. In addition to an exchange of experiences, this should deal with leases, the protection of historical monuments and hut strategy/marketing.
In addition to an exchange of information on projects carried out by the individual associations, the main topics discussed by the Commission of Mountaineering in Villnöss/South Tyrol in the middle of June were mountain-biking recommendations and a request by the Commission to the CAA General Assembly relating to alpine tour recommendations and pictograms for hiking recommendations, which were adopted in 2012. The next meeting will be hosted by the DAV at the start of June 2014. Subjects covered should include safety recommendations for ski tours, emergency equipment and a general mission statement for education.
The Compliance Committee of the Alpine Convention on its 18th meeting n 9th/10th of April, 2013, in Ponte di Legno dealed with CAA’s new request for checking compliance with the Alpine Convention regarding the exploitation of Piz Val Gronda. The CAA assumes that the currently approved cableway is violating Art.6 of the tourism protocol. The CC will request further information and statements during the next months, especially from Austria and the EU, and explore several questions, specified in the request. Hopefully, the CC will find a clear statement during the next meeting in November.
The former request regarding the project wind farm Sattelberg will only be treated by the CC when there's a legally binding decision in the local proceeding.
Second main topic of the meeting was the further proceeding regarding phase 2 (deepening) of the new compliance procedure, approved in 2012. The CC decided to deal firstly with tourism, namely on the basis of the reports of the CC from 2009 and 2011, the recommendations of the alpine conferences and other relevant information, as e.g. RSA IV. As a first step, a compilation of the deficits and difficulties of (legal) implementation detected in the documents regarding tourism will be made for the next meeting. It will be an interesting question which priorities then will be identified for work.
The CAA will continue to contribute actively to the work of the Compliance Committee.
With more than 50 participants on 7./8. of March took place in Bolzan the first meeting of the Permanent Committee of the Alpine Convention under the Italian Presidency 2013/14. It was embedded into the "Alpine Spring Festival", a week with workhops and meetings with several topics which are also discussed in the framework of the working groups and platforms of the Alpine Convention. Energy will be one of the main focuses: a new platform under Swiss Presidency will deal with use/saving, production, storage and transport. The minister of the environment, CLini, opened the Permanent Committee - and afterwards visited a lobbying event of the entrepreneurs association of South Tyrol. CAA will send and expert to this platform.
Furthermore there will be a new working group "mountain forests", which will work on protection and utility and the preservation of biodiversity of the forests.
In addition is intended a better coordinaion of the work of the numerous working groups and platforms. Right in time before taking over the Presidency Italy in 2012 had ratified all the protocolls of the Alpine Convention.