The Alpine Convention, signed in 1991 and implemented in 1995, is an international treaty for the long-term protection of the Alpine region and its ecosystems. It commits the contracting parties to working on common mountain problems such as sustainable development, climate change and biodiversity loss. The treaty transcends borders and recognizes the specificities of the Alpine region such as its biodiversity, landscapes, and diverse culture and heritage.
The Alpine Convention was ratified by the European Union and the 8 Alpine Countries – Germany, France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Slovenia, Liechtenstein and Monaco.
The Functioning of the Alpine Convention
The Alpine Conference is the decision-making body of the Alpine Convention. It is made up of the ministers of the Contracting Parties. The Conference meets twice a year in the current Member State holding the presidency of the Alpine Convention. Presidencies last for two years. The current presidency of the Convention was passed on from Austria to France in April 2019. A thematic change will come with this shift in leadership as France plans to focus on water issues, biodiversity loss and air quality in the Alps.
The Permanent Committee is the executive body of the Alpine Conference that ensures all decisions, principles and objectives are upheld and put into action. The Permanent Committee meets twice a year.
The Permanent Secretariat, established in 2003, provides support to the decision-making bodies of the Convention. Furthermore, it facilitates the exchange of expertise and knowledge in the Alpine region and oversees the Convention’s public relations. The Permanent Secretariat’s main office operates outside of Innsbruck, Austria whereas its branch office is in Bolzano/Bozen, Italy.
ALPARC’s Contribution to the Alpine Convention
ALPARC’s activities are firmly rooted in the Alpine Convention and it protocols. Specifically, one of the ALPARC’s aims is the implementation of Article 12 of the protocol “Nature protection and landscape conservation”.
Article 12: “The contracting parties take adequate measures to establish a network of existing national and transboundary protected areas, of biotopes and other protected elements or those to be protected. They commit themselves to harmonize the objectives and applicable measures in transboundary protected areas.”
The main goal of Article 12 is to strengthen environmental protection with an emphasis on species, biotopes and landscapes. This requires a harmonization of conservation efforts within the entire Alpine region.
ALPARC contributes to this protocol by working closely with the Convention’s Permanent Secretariat on several topics in particular: biodiversity conservation and ecological connectivity, soil protection, climate change and environmental education. Concretely, ALPARC acts as an intermediary between protected areas and actors in the Alpine region to assist in the implementation of the Convention.
As an official observer of the Alpine Convention, ALPARC has consultative voice in the Alpine Convention. On February 28th, 2013, the Permanent Secretariat of the Alpine Convention and the President of the ALPARC signed a Memorandum of Cooperation which provides a sustainable basis for cooperation between signatories.
Moreover, from 2007 to April 2019, ALPARC participated closely in the work of the “Ecological Network” Platform of the Alpine Convention and contributed to the activity coordination of this Platform during this period. The main aim of the Platform was to create an Alpine cross-boundary spatial network of protected areas and to connect elements with the support of experts, policy-makers and other relevant groups. Through the Platform, Alpine countries shared, compared and revised crucial information on measures and methodologies.
Since April 2019, ALPARC contributes to the Biodiversity Board of the Alpine Convention and is part of the Alpine Convention’s Soil Protection Working Group.