CIPRA - Future in the Alps: Disseminating knowledge – networking people

Background and Goals

CIPRA (Commission Internationale pour la Protection des Alpes) was established more than half a century ago to work on sustainable development in the Alps. CIPRA initiated the International Alpine Convention and played a key role in its formulation. They identify methods and resources and pursue an integrated approach to reconcile natural, economic and social interests.

Distribution of information is important for communication. CIPRA is a five-language information hub for people within and outside the Alps. The organisation is involved in projects and initiatives to implement this knowledge. For example, the "Alliance in the Alps" community network was initiated and now involves cooperation of more than 200 communities from all Alpine countries. The objective is sustainable development at various levels to utilise the potential of the Alpine region. A dual strategy is adopted: One the one hand, political development is promoted through the Alpine Convention, while on the other hand bottom-up development through information, projects, initiatives and networks is advanced, to make life in the Alps worth living in the future.

"Spreading knowledge - linking people" is the motto of "Future in the Alps", another CIPRA project. The aim is to gather experience and knowledge from across the Alps, classify it and provide it to everyone who needs it. To do this, an online database provides literature on the latest knowledge and best practice examples from the entire Alpine region.


The objective of the "Future in the Alps" project - a broad-based knowledge management project - is to link people, businesses and institutions and to share and implement knowledge and information, in order to provide new impetus for sustainable development in the Alps. The project will make a contribution to implementing the Alpine Convention.

At the end of the project, 40 experts from the Alpine region will have spent a year bringing together existing knowledge on 6 major issues. At the outset, those issues that will be of most critical important for the future of the Alps were chosen: Regional value creation, social action capability, conservation areas and biodiversity, mobility, new forms of decision making, policies  and instruments. As a result, the experts presented 160 successful examples and 240 excerpts from literature as a theoretical basis. Six English-language reports explain the results, while a final report puts the issues in an overall context. To provide access to this knowledge, a website was setup that can be used as input for new activities and projects. It provides free access to the database of projects and literature references, information about news and events, and documents available for download.

Content time


Research area/region

  • Germany
  • France
  • Italy
  • Liechtenstein
  • Austria
  • Swiss
  • Slovenia
Region of implementation (all German federal states)
  • Baden-Württemberg
  • Bavaria
Natural spatial classification
  • Alp and North Bavarian hills
  • Alps
  • Alpine Foothills

Steps in the process of adaptation to climate change

Step 1: Understand and describe climate change

Approach and results 

IPCC scenarios and projections

Parameter (climate signals)
  • Altered rainfall patterns
  • Higher average temperatures
  • Extreme precipitation (incl. hail, snow)
  • Storm
Further Parameters 

extreme events

Step 2a: Identify and assess risks - climate effects and impact

Approach and results 

The forecast changes, e.g. rise in average temperatures, increase in extreme weather events, summer dryness and melting of glaciers, will affect a particularly sensitive area in the Alps. Climate effects are being studied in two particular areas where the vulnerability of the Alpine region is at its greatest: Winter tourism and the growing threat to settlements and infrastructure from natural hazards and the resulting risks.

Step 3: Develop and compare measures

Measures and/or strategies 

The project will develop sustainable strategies for dealing with the increasing effects of climate change (The focus is on studying climate mitigation strategies. In terms of adaptation strategies, CIPRA specified the following points in a resolution of May 2006:

  1. A call for all medium and long-term tourist investments to be reviewed from a climate change perspective.
  2. Doubt about whether short-term measures to combat symptoms, e.g. snow cannons, are forward-looking climate change adaptation strategies and a call to develop landscape-based and nature-friendly alternatives, particularly for summer tourism, but also for winter tourism instead.
  3. Urgent requirement to support the adaptability of nature. This includes protection and reclamation of semi-natural mountain forests, safeguarding and designation of retention areas in rivers and streams, renaturation of watercourses and restriction of land sealing.
  4. A call for creation or review of danger zone maps for natural hazards and flooding in the Alpine region from a climate change perspective. Danger zones should be incorporated into settlement and transport route planning (where required, reallocation should be carried out)
Time horizon
  • 2071–2100 (far future)
Conflicts / synergies / sustainability 

To disseminate and manage knowledge, resistance must be overcome, as this is spread throughout seven Alpine countries when it comes to shaping valuable knowledge for the future. For example, language barriers inhibit the flow of information and legal and administration systems are not compatible. However, common issues and challenges mean that knowledge transfer is beneficial and necessary. In summary, the most important strategies for promoting and implementing sustainable development include increased cooperation and closer networking.


Funding / Financing 

MAVA Foundation for Nature Conservation in Switzerland for the project "Future in the Alps"

Project management 

CIPRA International


with the projects NENA (network of sustainable enterprises) and DYNALP2;

CIPRA International is a non-governmental umbrella organisation based at Schaan/Liechtenstein. There are seven national CIPRA representations: in Germany, France, Italy, Liechtenstein, Austria, Switzerland and Slovenia, as well as the regional representation of South Tyrol. Together they represent more than 100 member organisations.


CIPRA International
Im Bretscha 22
9494 Lichtenstein

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Fields of action:
 agriculture  biological diversity  tourism industry  transport and transport infrastructure  water regime and water management  woodland and forestry