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Linking up the Alps

How networks of local political actors build the pan-Alpine region

Cristina Del Biaggio

The signing of the Convention on the protection of the Alps (Alpine Convention) by the Alpine States in 1991 heralded new practices and perspectives. This transnational project is intended to solve important challenges faced by the Alpine population. Convinced that the Alpine Convention should fulfil its potential, some non-governmental organizations and some active persons created networks of local political actors to connect local representatives, researchers, managers of protected areas and ecological associations. These were designed to realize a sustainable pan-Alpine region. This book endeavours to understand how and why local political actors, organized in pan-Alpine networks, chose to take mountain regions in general, and the Alps in particular, as the shared frame of reference for their involvement. It explores if and how a pan-Alpine identity detached from and/or combined with the more «traditional» national identities is developing among and enacted by local political actors engaged for the Alpine Convention. It also analyzes the socio-political significance of local political actors’ involvement in the newly constituted pan-Alpine networks.

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8. Conclusion

Extract

Throughout this research, I focused on the operation and signifi- cance of a recent phenomenon occurring in the Alps. Since the 1990s, a number of networks of political actors have been established. These connect different social and political actors (mayors, regional secre- taries, managers of protected areas, rangers, ski resorts, scientists, ecological activists etc.) inside the Alpine region as defined by the Al- pine Convention. Some of them were created as a strategy to provide consistency to an international treaty signed in 1991 by the ministries of the environment of Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Switzerland and the European Union. The Alpine Conven- tion, which is also the name of the treaty, aims to promote sustain- able development in the Alpine area and to protect the interests of the people living inside it. Given that the focus is on sustainable devel- opment, the research embraces environmental, social, economic and cultural dimensions. Criticism towards the convention, which some consider to be merely a piece of paper without any real implementation in the terri- tory, pushed political actors and organizations, first and foremost the Commission Internationale pour la Protection des Alpes (CIPRA), to find solutions to reach the local decision-makers and put into prac- tice what the Alpine Convention promised: sustainable development in the entire Alpine arc. That is why, often thanks to the impetus of CIPRA, networks of local actors were established, which gave rise to a number of initiatives that Debarbieux identifies as a sign of...

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