In the nineties, the Alpine Convention was a pioneer of its kind by being the world’s first international treaty considering a transnational mountain area in its geographical entirety.
The Convention was signed by the eight Alpine countries: Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Slovenia and Monaco and the European Union and came into effect in 1995.
Since the Contracting Parties share a common territory with common challenges, the Alpine Convention aims at the protection and sustainable development of the Alps.
This mountain area in the heart of Europe is the natural, cultural, living as well as economic environment for more than 14 million people and a manifold number of guests per annum.
The elaboration of an Alpine Convention was already identified as one of the main goals of CIPRA, the International Commission for the Protection of the Alps, at the time of the constitution of the NGO in 1952. The idea came to maturity in the late 80s when, promoted by CIPRA, an unanimous plenary resolution was passed in the European Parliament on 17 May 1988 to draw up a "Convention on the protection of the Alpine region". On the strength of this, the 89-point resolution adopted by the Environment Ministers at the first Alpine Conference, that took place in Berchtesgaden (D) in 1989, marked the concrete commitment to formulate a binding international treaty between the eight Alpine States and the EEC.
The Alpine Convention was completed and signed in Salzburg (AT) on 7 November 1991 by Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and the EEC. Slovenia signed the convention in 1993 and Monaco became a contracting party in 1994 based on a separate additional protocol. The Convention came into force in 1995. Further specific commitments have been set out in eight thematic Protocols.
The Alpine Convention is a unique, legally binding sustainability instrument that aims at safeguarding the sensitive Alpine ecosystems, together with the regional cultural identities, heritage, and traditions in the Alps for the upcoming generations.
The Alpine Convention is also a political stage on which great expertise has been built up over many years by the Contracting Parties in collaboration with many Observer organizations. The entire Alpine Convention regime, with its declarations, status reports and diverse networks, has become a remarkable source of ideas and knowledge. It should, therefore, not come as a surprise that it has been followed by the Carpathian Convention, while several other mountain areas around the world look with interest at the experience of the Alps.