The Alpine region towards more sustainability

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Greening the economy in the Alpine Region
Source: Christine Wendl

The Alpine region wants to become a model region of resource-efficient and climate-friendly economy. The sixth Report on the State of the Alps, which was introduced at an Alpine-wide conference on 11 May 2017 in Rosenheim, shows how it can be done.

A presentation by Mr Wolfgang Wimmer from the Achental in Bavaria illustrated how the concept of a Green Economy can drive regional development that is viable for the future. The beauty of the Achental landscape in southern Chiemgau is breathtaking and impressive, but the future of the valley looked grim at the end of the 1990s: farms were being abandoned, young people were moving away, and the number of overnight tourist stays was on the decline.

Thanks to the establishment and development of the “Ökomodell Achental e.V.”, a surprising success story has emerged today. Its basic idea is simple: promote the valley's remoteness and peace for tourism purposes, switch its agriculture to the standards of organic farming, produce as many regional products as possible, and make the region's natural capital accessible. Many players in the region are cooperating to steer the region towards a sustainable and successful future.

The international conference in Rosenheim brought stakeholders from the entire Alpine region together to discuss about the development of a Green Economy in their region. The occasion of the conference was the launch the sixth Report on the State of the Alps, which was drafted by an international expert group led by the German Environment Agency (UBA). Mr Markus Reiterer, Secretary General of the Permanent Secretariat of the Alpine Convention, summarised the core message of the report as follows: "Green Economy means that economic development, environmental protection and social equity can not only be reconciled, they can even be mutually supportive. I am thankful to Germany for promoting this key issue for the Alpine region during its presidency of the Alpine Convention with so much energy and care. These efforts are advancing our measures to green the economy and make it more fit for the future."

Ms Schwarzelühr-Sutter, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Environment Ministry, explained in her welcome address that the particular vulnerability of the Alpine region and the global challenges which climate change poses make it essential to achieve a Green Economy. This is also why UBA has been commissioned to draft an Action Programme for a Green Economy with its partners from the Alpine states within the next two years.

A series of stakeholder dialogues across the Alpine region are taking place in order to initiate suitable actions and to achieve broad-based participation in the process of drafting the action programme. The international conference in Rosenheim proved to be a successful opening event for this purpose.