Caretakers for Spatial Planning: A Swiss-Austrian cooperation

Marc Pfister and Katharina Zwettler are the caretakers for Spatial Planning. This is a bilateral cooperation between the Swiss Federal Office for Spatial Development and the Austrian Ministry for Climate Action.

In December 2020, Katharina took over the role of caretaker for this cross-cutting issue. As she will now be on maternity leave, Marc is replacing her. Under the Swiss Presidency 2021/2022, Marc is also responsible for the Ninth Report on the State of the Alps (RSA9) “Alpine Towns” Working Group as well as the “Climate action in Alpine towns” TA2030 pilot – both dealing with urban development. Katharina recently organised a Workshop on land saving targets as well as on growth and shrinkage in the Alps.

What unites them? Katharina and Marc have an academic background in spatial planning. Both are Focal Points of the Alpine Convention for their country. Both love travelling the Alps – by train, bike, and foot, or by combining different modes of transport. Both work towards climate-neutral and climate-resilient Alps 2050 with a focus on spatial planning in general, and on the implementation pathways for spatial planning more specifically.


Do they differ? The Alpine Climate Board wanted to find out and invited them to a word “battle”.

To me Spatial Planning means …
Marc: … more quality of life through creative solutions.
Katharina: ... many challenges and the same number of ways to overcome them. It is all about human beings, environmental and climate protection, reducing the potential for conflicts and … thinking big.

A caretaker for spatial planning should …    
Marc: … have a good network.
Katharina: … enjoy working and exchanging with people from all over the Alpine region and with different backgrounds.

In 2050, the Alps are a region that …
Marc: … is well adapted to climate change.
Katharina: … is a pioneer when it comes to climate change mitigation and adaptation. A region that is a place of living and belonging.

The most common colour on my ideal map of the Alps is …
Marc: … blue.
Katharina: … green, but most preferably colourful.

The most beautiful place in the Alps is…
Marc: … in any of their old villages.
Katharina: … in a sun-kissed coniferous forest.

It seems they definitely differ in the number of words they need for a word battle!

Learn more about the programme of the Swiss Presidency of the Alpine Convention and their spatial planning activities here.


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