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The environment ministers of the Contracting Parties to the Alpine Convention today declared their support for an Alpine energy platform when they met at the XII Alpine Conference. This platform is intended to give the Alpine nations a forum for exchange on the challenges and opportunities posed by energy and climate issues, as well as specific projects, in the Alpine region. The remit for the platform, proposed on the initiative of Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard, will be defined in greater detail over the coming months. The key question will be how nature and landscape conservation interests, on the one hand, can be balanced out against energy generation, transportation, storage and efficiency needs, on the other. Switzerland is particularly interested in gaining a pan-Alpine overview of areas which are suitable for energy generation from renewable sources (water, wind and the sun) to improve planning certainty. These areas are to be visualised on a map.
As at the «Renewable Alps» symposium at the beginning of AlpWeek, the topics of climate and energy topped the agenda at the Alpine Conference. Furthermore, the ministers of the Alpine nations expressed their support for the resolutions of the Rio+20 Earth Summit. They declared that the Alpine Convention would renew its commitment to sustainable development and would position the Alps internationally as a model region in this regard. Sustainable tourism – one of the Alpine Convention's areas of emphasis over the last two years – was also under discussion. An Alpine Status Report on sustainable tourism will be published shortly.
Additionally, the Alpine Conference offered an opportunity to reflect on activities during the Swiss Presidency of the Alpine Convention. It emerged from this review that work must be focused more sharply on the key challenges facing the Alps, such as those related to the supply of energy.
As the Alpine Conference concluded, the environment ministers of the German-speaking Alpine nations moved immediately on to their traditional quadripartite meeting. Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard will travel with her counterparts from Germany, Austria and Liechtenstein to the foot of the Morteratsch Glacier, where the topics under discussion will include both energy and the environment. (Separate media release to follow.)
The Alpine Convention
The Alpine Convention is the world's first binding treaty under international law designed to protect a mountain region. It defines a transnational area as a functional geographical unit, and as a cultural and economic region which faces a common set of challenges. The Contracting Parties are Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Slovenia, Switzerland and the EU. In the early 1990s, these states drew up 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.