The first edition of the Mountain Innovation Fair took place on 24 and 25 October, in Bolzano/Bozen (IT) at the NOI Techpark, a space dedicated to innovation for climate change adaptation and sustainable mountain development. The event was organised by Eurac Research together with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations University through the UNU-EHS Global Mountain Safeguard Research (GLOMOS) programme, with funding from the Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC).
The Mountain Innovation Fair created synergies and learning opportunities between stakeholders and innovators from mountain regions all over the world, mainly from the South Caucasus, the Carpathians, South-Eastern Europe, the Alps, East Africa, and Southern Africa. Over two days, the participants learnt about innovative projects in the field of climate change adaptation and sustainable development in the mountains.
The Alpine Convention was happy to participate in both the Selection Committee for the candidate projects and the Marketplace organised on 24 October. Based on several criteria including the innovative value of the projects, the Selection Committee selected eight candidates out of twenty-nine projects to receive the final award.
The first day opened with institutional greetings and an inspiring PeakTalk “At the frontline of climate change in the mountains” by Anja Blacha, a mountaineer and polar explorer.
The participants were then able to explore the marketplace, where they were able to learn and discover more about the twenty-nine selected projects which travelled to Italy from the world's main mountain areas.
The Alpine Convention was represented by the Chair of the Alpine Climate Board (ACB), Helmut Hojesky. He presented the work of the ACB as well as the Alpine Climate Action Plan 2.0 with its 30 implementation paths.
At the end of the marketplace, the participants voted for the most innovative project presented at the Fair. The afternoon continued with interesting presentations and a workshop on co-creating innovative approaches for a fictive mountain community. The first day ended with a visit to the TerraXcube and EURAC's Renewable Energy laboratories.
The second day of the event opened with two presentations from the world of finance by BNP Paribas and Intesa Sanpaolo Innovation Center. The two-day Fair concluded with the Mountain Innovation Award Ceremony. The first prize was awarded to Mantopi Martina Lebofa with her project 'Removing Barriers from upscaling Beekeeping and Wool and Mohair products Production in Lesotho'.
In the afternoon, also thanks to a respite from the rain, the participants were able to visit the area of Caldaro and Termeno, and Solos Aquaponik, concluding their experience with a visit to the Laimburg Experimentation Centre.
Deputy Secretary General of the Alpine Convention Wolfger Mayrhofer joined the participants for the concluding dinner. He noted that “moments like these can only broaden the knowledge of each person involved, always discovering, and learning something new and innovative in the field of environmental sustainability and beyond. I am also certain that these exchanges help people operating on other sides of the world from each other to learn that the critical issues and difficulties we encounter in our territories are shared, thus discovering solutions that we were unaware of until that day and feeling much closer than mere geography makes us think”.