Italian Minister of Environment, Land and Sea
In 2013, Italy will once again be presiding over the Alpine Convention after more than a decade. The first presidency by Italy dates back to 2001-2002, a particularly prosperous and fruitful period which culminated, at the Alpine Conference of 2002 in Merano, with the establishing of the Permanent Secretariat based in Innsbruck and with an operational annex in Bolzano, and with the creating of the official website of the Alpine Convention. These tools, together with other important results achieved in that period, have brought about significant improvements in the operation and implementing of the Convention.
Ten years later, the context in which the Italian Presidency is operating has significantly changed. The financial and economic crisis requires new priorities from the member countries, but I feel sure that, despite the economically difficult period, these two years can be as profitable as before. It is thus the intention of this Presidency to be fully committed to its leading role and to make a strong contribution to the combined effort to achieve the objectives envisaged in the Alpine Convention and its protocols, which are essential for the sustainable development of the Alpine region.
The recent ratification of the implementation protocols by the Italian Parliament can act as an encouraging starting point for continuing our work along lines designed to favour both preserving biodiversity and creating “green” infrastructures able to promote growth and employment.
Already at the time of the XII Alpine Conference in Poschiavo, we set up an “Energy” Platform and a “Mountain Forests” Working Group with the aim of further studying and strengthening the commitment by Alpine countries to promote a more concrete implementing of the relevant protocols. The Energy Platform will generally deal with optimising the use of renewable sources, and I hope that it will particularly focus on the “new hydroelectric” and testing of a free Alpine regional market of energy. The “Mountain Forests” Working Group will also deal with the contribution that the Alpine territory can provide – also acting as a ‘carbon sink’ – for the global objective of reducing CO2 emissions. The two new groups will work together and with previously established groups in order to help – in line with the results of Rio+20 – establish a ‘green economy’ as the driving force behind development.
I am also happy to announce that these two years of Italian Presidency will be characterised by the direct involvement of territorial bodies of the Italian Alps. The Ministry of the Environment has worked with regional and local authorities, some of the most important research institutes and with some of the associations concerned with defining the programme of the Presidency and for the signing of an agreement, endorsed on 15 November 2012 in Rome, which established an ad hoc Table of coordination. Lastly, I hope that this renewed collaboration between the relevant bodies of the Italian Alpine territory can be an example for launching a new, more extensive, efficient and effective coordination between the entire Alpine region and the rest of Europe.
I believe that the Alpine populations, whose situation has been made particularly difficult by demographic changes, should be thanked by us for looking after a strategic environment, and also be assured of our commitment and our contribution to improving their wellbeing and quality of life.