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Maria Lezzi, Director of the Federal Office for Spatial Development (ARE), opened AlpWeek 2012 in Poschiavo (Canton Grisons) alongside Cla Semadeni, former Cantonal Planner, representing Canton Grisons, Dominik Siegrist, President of the International Commission for the Protection of the Alps (CIPRA), and Cassiano Luminati, Chairman of the Valposchiavo regional association. As the current holder of the Alpine Convention presidency, Switzerland is organising the AlpWeek in collaboration with a number of major Alpine associations (see box).
Strategies to meet the challenges of the future in the Alpine region must take account of differing interests, said Maria Lezzi in her opening speech. «The Alps are neither Heidiland nor the world's biggest power station, but the place where 13 million people live and work.» She continued that, as a territory, the Alps could retain their importance only through a process of continuous renewal. To ensure that this renewal is sustainable, all of the stakeholders in the Alpine region must pull together. Promoting this strong working relationship is one of Switzerland's primary objectives during its presidency of the Alpine Convention. Maria Lezzi therefore called upon the delegates to «renew the Alps together».
Alpine Convention and AlpWeek
The Alpine Convention is the world's first binding treaty under international law designed to protect a mountain region. The Contracting Parties are Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Slovenia, Switzerland and the EU. In the early 1990s, these states drafted a framework convention, which came into force in March 1995 and was ratified by Switzerland in 1999. In Switzerland, responsibility for the Alpine Convention lies with the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC). Within DETEC, the Federal Office for Spatial Development (ARE) takes the lead on individual activities. AlpWeek 2012 is being staged as part of the Swiss Presidency of the Alpine Convention. It is being organised by the Federal Office for Spatial Development (ARE) and the International Commission for the Protection of the Alps (CIPRA), as well as the «Alliance in the Alps» network of municipalities, the International Scientific Committee on Research in the Alps (ISCAR), the Alpine Network of Protected Areas (ALPARC) and the Club Arc Alpin (CAA), in close collaboration with the Regione Valposchiavo.