Does a "macro-regional alpine strategy" offer additional value with respect to the Alpine Convention and if so, what value? Which problems of the Alps are dealt with in the numerous national and international bodies and institutions? Does this promote sustainable development, the goal shared by all? These and many broader questions were discussed on the evening of 26th March by well-known experts and administrative officers at the framework programme of the DAV exhibition "Alps under pressure", under the dedicated and knowledgeable moderation of Alpine journalist Axel Klemmer.
In his introduction, CAA president Klaus-Jürgen Gran put forward the question of whether the planned inclusion of approximately 66 million inhabitants in the area of the macro-regional strategy would lead to a considerably more complex range of interests than those, even within the perimeter of the Alpine Convention with its approximately 15 million inhabitants, that we have not yet been able to fully satisfy or not.
Alpine researcher Werner Bätzing determined the neo-liberal trend, orientate regions towards cities, and so making the actual Alps with its inhabitants on the outskirts. Peter Eggensberger from the Bavarian State Ministry of the Environment, on the other hand, sees many new opportunities for cooperation and balancing of interests, he hopes for an integrated, coordinated Alpine policy. Christian Baumgartner from CIPRA international does not believe in the threat of external influences, as even within the Alps there are very strong regions. Eva Nussmüller from the EU, expert for the Danube macro-region, stressed that the EU is deliberately restraining itself, i.e. the regions themselves ought to form the strategy. The Danube region is said to be much more heterogenous than the Alps. Christian Salletmaier from the "Alpine Space Programme" noted that some problems should be solved better locally, whereas others, such as biodiversity or the use of natural resources, can only be properly managed on a cross-border basis, which also occurs through the project funding of its programme. Markus Reiterer, general secretary of the Alpine Convention, gave the project "Mountaineering villages" as a positive example for the advancement of locally-sourced added-value and wishes to maintain the Alps as an area worth living in and not reduce them to terms such as "Europe’s battery". Franz Ferdinand Türtscher, mayor of the municipality of Sonntag in the Great Walser valley, explains that promotion of the Vorarlberg state is succeeding rather than wealthy communities, such as Lech, supporting poorer areas.
In the recently begun work of the working groups on the development of the macro-regional strategy, up until now Baumgartner has missed visionary goals such as quality of life or sufficiency and sees the sectoral approach, sorted by e.g. transport, economy, environment, as rather unsuitable. Bätzing is likewise calling for an "inclusive orientation". He appealed for "functional interrelations" between the Alps and foreland areas to be handled "at eye-level", and pointed out that the "mental and linguistic rifts" within the Alps and between the Alps and the foreland areas are very deep. Eggensberger invited the representatives of the "civil society", including the CAA and its member associations, to bring their ideas to the process. Reiterer also sees the macro-regional strategy as an opportunity to bring the Alpine Convention to life and to make the Alps more visible in Brussels.
"Surely nobody expected all of the fog to be cleared at the end of the evening", joked CAA President Gran in his closing words after the long, at times challenging discussion. However, he announced that the CAA will continue to play a part in the process, "in order to help design the idea of the macro-region Alps and to bring out the best possible for the Alpine region, without compromising the achievements of the Alpine Conventions."
In line with the decision of the European Council from December 2013 that a macro-regional strategy for the Alps is to be developed, the CAA on March 26th organizes a panel discussion with renowned experts in the framework programme of the DAV exhibition “Alps under pressure” at the Munich Alpine Museum.
In the light of the EU decision the Alpine Convention has to fight for a strong position. Which impulses can the Alpine Convention set to have a strong role in the sustainable development of the Alps? Which will be the main focuses of the German Presidency in 2015/16? Which chances will a macro-regional strategy offer to the Alps? What does it mean for the lives of the population of the Alps? Which role do metropolises like Milan or Munich play? And what could the civil society do to accompany the process actively?
The experts will face these and other questions and try to illustrate the abstract topic.
Date: 26 March 2014, 7.30 p.m., Alpine Museum, Munich
Klaus-Jürgen Gran, President of Club Arc Alpin: Address of welcome and introduction
• Professor Werner Bätzing, Cultural geographer, University of Erlangen
• Markus Reiterer, Secretary general of the Alpine Convention
• Dr. Christian Salletmaier, Alpine Space Programme manager
• Eva Nussmüller, EU Commission, Directorate-General for Regional Policy
• Dr. Peter Eggensberger, Bavarian ministry of the environment and consumer protection
• Dr. Christian Baumgartner, Vice president CIPRA international
• Franz Ferdinand Türtscher, Mayor in "Großes Walsertal", Austria
Moderator: Axel Klemmer, Geographer and Journalist