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In October 2016, Austria officially took over the Presidency of the Alpine Convention from Germany. The Austrian federal Minister Andrä Rupprechter illustrated the priorities of the Austrian Presidency in Salzburg on 4 November 2016, the day marking the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Alpine Convention. During its two-year term in office, the Austrian Presidency wants to implement the “Protect and Utilise” concept. Protection and development of the Alps go hand in hand and are not mutually exclusive. “Protect and Utilise” comprises the three key elements of sustainability: environment, economy and social concerns.   
Austria will leverage on past achievements and add momentum: one of its focus themes is the role of women in the mountain regions. Special attention will be devoted to how women can preserve, improve and influence activities in the Alps taking into consideration environmental, economic and cultural aspects. This issue will also be addressed by the representatives of mountain areas worldwide at Alpbach in April 2017, when they have the opportunity to network, exchange best practices and establish partnerships.   
Another focus theme is the future of mountain farming – an exchange of views and a discussion on the future of mountain farming in the Alps will be promoted.    
This year, dramatic floods and landslides have shown that the Alpine area and its residents are at high risk of natural disasters. The safety of the local population is paramount and a rising challenge in the face of climate change. That is why the forthcoming Report on the State of the Alps will focus on “Risk governance of natural hazards”.   
Climate protection is another key priority. In this context, the Alpine Convention can prove a useful regional organisation and a trend-setter in Europe. In order to work on this focus theme, the Alpine Convention is going to set up its own “Advisory Committee on climate”.   
The Alpine Convention will also strengthen its cooperation with the EU macroregional strategy for the Alpine region – a new and important regional policy instrument that opens up new opportunities.   
Read the editorial by Minister Rupprechter here.
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