For the year 2023, Switzerland took over the Presidency for the EU Strategy for the Alpine Region and defined a cycle of conferences dealing with the thematic priorities within the Alps. Over the year, the Conference of Cantonal Governments welcomed these conferences as follows : circular economy in Fribourg, water resources in Scuol, mobility and transports in Lugano. In total, those three conferences gathered more than 500 participants and visitors from all over the Alpine regions and beyond.
The first thematic conference on circular economy in the Alps was organised in the city of Fribourg on March 31st, 2023. Under the consideration that circular economy allows for growth to be maintained while respecting the environment, panellists discussed the success factors for a future collaboration around this topic and presented effective and sustainable initiatives and projects that could be duplicated at both the European and Alpine macro-regional scales. Private companies also introduced their commercial activities and exchanged on the best practices already experienced. Ultimately, the conference closed with the participants’ signature of the so-called “Fribourg Declaration” which commonly engaged the stakeholders present and committed them to promote collaboration, exchange platforms and common projects regarding this topic.
On June 16th, 2023, the second thematic conference on the management of Alpine water resources in a transition context took place in the city of Scuol. Over the course of three round tables, panellists were questioned to what extent European cooperation might support the Alpine regions on their path to reaching their sustainable goals. More specifically to the water paradigm, specialists stressed the necessity to develop simultaneously hydropower in the Alps and preserve natural landscapes. As economic benefits of water management were recalled, emphasis was particularly given to economic outputs generated by winter tourism and, from a cross-cutting perspective, the panellists insisted on how imperative it is to enhance green and nature-based tourism in the Alps to adapt current touristic patterns, diversify activities, and remain competitive in this field with regards to the impacts of climate change in the region.
On September 1st, 2023, the third and last thematic conference organised by the 2023 Swiss Presidency of EUSALP in Lugano focused on mobility and transports in the Alps. Tomas Miglierina, from the Radiotelevisione Svizzera, presided a total of three round tables during which course transition of mobility trends and transport patterns were addressed, cross-border vehicles initiatives were promoted, and an international exchange of local best practices from all over the Alps was moderated. Current challenges encountered in the fields of mobility and transports were identified, and a consensus was ultimately drawn among participants on how to tackle the multifaceted problem of transports and mobility in the Alps. For this purpose, it is imperative to develop greater interconnectedness between Alpine regions, enhance deeper integration of remote areas, and create multimodal hubs.
Overall, the three thematic conferences organised by the EUSALP Swiss Presidency succeeded at bringing light to local initiatives and projects that were already efficiently implemented across the Alpine space. Each conference hosted international exchanges of best practices and emphasised the crucial role of EUSALP in both political and scientific networking strategies. It has been constantly realised that cross-border dialogues and cooperation are non-negotiable means of governance and consultation to sustainably preserve the Alpine natural landscape and encourage economic growth. Such events were great opportunities to meet common decisions present initiatives and projects that can be duplicated at the Alpine macro-regional, national, and European scales.
Cover : source@DavidSchweizer