A celebratory summer for the Mountaineering Villages!

It has been a busy summer for the Mountaineering Villages, a pioneering initiative in the field of sustainable tourism. Over the past few months, four villages have officially joined the family: St. Antönien, Lavin, Guarda and Ardez, as well as Steinberg am Rofan and Göriach im Lungau.

As the first Mountaineering Village in Switzerland, St. Antönien officially became part of the initiative on 12 June 2021. The villages of Lavin, Guarda and Ardez then joined on 22 August, where Marianna Elmi, Deputy Secretary General of the Alpine Convention, was honoured to partake in the celebrations. A warm welcome to the first Mountaineering Villages in Switzerland!

 

 

In the following month, in a festive ceremony on Sunday, 12 September, Göriach im Lungau, which is also part of the UNESCO Biosphere Park Lungau, was one of two Austrian municipalities to join. On the same day, some 250km away, Alenka Smerkolj, Secretary General of the Alpine Convention held a welcoming speech for the other Austrian village, Steinberg am Rofan. She outlined the importance of strong partnerships for sustainable development and praised the Mountaineering Villages for the valuable work they carry out, in the context of the Alpine Convention, for the inhabitants of and visitors to the Alps. To honour the occasion, a new cross had been erected on the summit of the Guffert mountain, a prominent backdrop on the occasion of Steinberg am Rofan being awarded the title of Mountaineering Village.

 

 

The inhabitants of these new villages will work together with their local Alpine Associations towards tourism that values nature and local culture and preserves the small and special places in the Alpine regions. In addition to this sustainable approach to tourism, the villages also seek to steer developments in the fields of nature and environmental protection, spatial planning, and mobility in a sustainable way. By joining, the villages also commit to implementing the Alpine Convention at the municipal level.

Two new Italian villages will also officially become part the initiative this year: Balme and Triora, both of whom will be joining in October. The Mountaineering Villages initiative will have thus grown to include six new Mountaineering Villages in 2021 alone. This growth is also contributing to making the initiative more and more international, bringing together villages sharing ideals in Austria, Germany, Italy, Slovenia and, as of 2021, Switzerland.

Active inhabitants of all villages and representatives of the Alpine associations had the opportunity to meet up at the beginning of September during the 13th Annual Meeting of the Mountaineering Villages. Over three days they met in the small, beautiful Ladin village in the Dolomites, Lungiarü (IT). Bringing together established and new members to discuss shared issues, the focus of the meeting was the topic “Mountain agriculture – dream and reality”. Speakers addressed the contribution that mountain agriculture makes to the preservation and maintenance of the cultural landscape as well as highlighting the chances and challenges municipalities and farmers face in practising environmentally conscious agriculture as foreseen in the Alpine Convention.

 

 

Finally, the 16 September 2021 was a very special date for the Alpine Convention and the Mountaineering Villages. This date marked the five-year anniversary of the official cooperation agreement. The Mountaineering Villages are one of the most successful implementation projects of the Alpine Convention; the criteria to which every Mountaineering Village commits, and how it implements these, brings the Alpine Convention to life and communicates ideas to visitors and locals alike.

“For years now the Mountaineering Villages have shown that sustainable tourism and close-to-nature development is possible and how the Alpine Convention, especially the Tourism Protocol, can be turned into action. The Mountaineering Villages are not just a “formal” network, but a real cooperation space where exchange happens, where ideas are discussed, and new visions are developed together,” praised Alenka Smerkolj.
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