A recent workshop for the Thematic Working Bodies of the Alpine Convention served as a first exchange since the beginning of the 2021-2022 mandates of the bodies. It was organised online by the Permanent Secretariat of the Alpine Convention in cooperation with the Swiss Presidency on 17 June 2021. The event offered an opportunity to share information on the current activities and to identify additional synergies between the workstreams of the different bodies, as well as prompt further discussion between the Contracting Parties, Observer organisations and experts of the Alpine Convention.
The Thematic Working Bodies, comprising designated representatives of the Contracting Parties and Observers, carry out essential scientific and conceptual work that lays the basis for decisions of the Alpine Conference. With ten currently active bodies, and several expert groups, there are many developments and priorities to follow.
For this reason, the format chosen for the workshop involved short interviews with the Chairs of each thematic body to gain insight into the priorities, workflows and goals of each group. This was especially interesting as three new bodies were established by the XVI Alpine Conference in December 2020: the Spatial Planning and Sustainable Development Working Group, the Ad hoc Working Group for the Preparation of the 9th Report on the State of the Alps, and the Ad hoc Working Group for the Preparation of the Multi-Annual Work Programme 2023-2030.
The common thread in all the interviews was the importance of collaboration with other groups. This is crucial due to the cross-thematic nature of much of the work of the Thematic Working Bodies, and is demonstrated by the Climate Action Plan 2.0, recently published by the Alpine Climate Board. The Action Plan lays the groundwork for a climate-resilient and climate-neutral Alpine region, and necessarily cuts across the areas of work of all Thematic Working Bodies. Achieving this goal is therefore dependent on the cooperation and collaboration between the different bodies.
The Chairs also had a chance to talk about the challenges that lie ahead for their group, including the limitations of online meetings, as well as how they were planning to address them. Several Chairs emphasised the importance of creating new networks and contacts with other working bodies, as well as the need to maintain and strengthen existing ones. The dissemination of the results and their uptake by decision-makers are crucial and require support from institutions beyond the group members.
“The Thematic Working Bodies workshop offered a space for engaging, discussing and sharing ideas, and I would like to thank all Chairs and members for your efforts and the energy you put into fulfilling your mandates and carrying out your work programmes! I am confident that you will be successful.” – Alenka Smerkolj, Secretary General of the Alpine Convention