After the successful premiere of web conferencing back in July, the 70th meeting of the Permanent Committee was also staged virtually on 21-22 October 2020. This final session of the Committee under French Presidency aimed at preparing the decisions of the XVI Alpine Conference, which will gather the Ministers and high-level representatives, also in virtual form, on 10 December 2020. On top of the agenda were the upcoming results on the focus topics of the French Presidency water management, mountain biodiversity and air quality. The Climate Action Plan 2.0 was also examined by the Signatories and Observers. Furthermore, the reports of all Thematic Working Bodies were received, and the mandates for the next two years prepared.
Water Management – Following the results of the Annecy Conference on Water Resources and Alpine Rivers: Adaptation to the challenges of climate change in February 2020 and the outcomes of the former Water Management in the Alps Platform, a Declaration on Integrated and Sustainable Water Management in the Alps was drafted in view of its adoption by the XVI Alpine Conference. The declaration entails commitments by the Contracting Parties concerning the protection of wild rivers, adaptation to climate change, more economical use of the (scarce) water resources, prudent management of small hydroelectric power plants and the development of international cooperation in transboundary water management.
Biodiversity – Mountain Biodiversity is particularly valuable and vulnerable and is being put to the test by climate change and an intensive tourism industry. It was the wish of the French Presidency to propose a political contribution of the Alpine Convention to the post-2020 process of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Therefore, the Contracting Parties and Observers were consulted to draft a Declaration on the Protection of Mountain Biodiversity and its Promotion at International Level in preparation of the ministerial adoption at the XVI Alpine Conference. Its messages will be promoted through a global virtual conference on Mountain Biodiversity organised by the outgoing French Presidency on 13 January 2021, ahead of the IUCN World Conservation Congress and the COP15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
Air Quality – The 8th Report on the State of the Alps (RSA 8) is the first concrete contribution to the implementation of the Alpine Convention’s objectives in this field. Through its approval by the Alpine Conference, the report will evidence how much Alpine valleys are affected by air pollution, put the spotlight on good practices to improve air quality and pave the way for their roll-out throughout the Alps.
Climate Action Plan 2.0 – The first Climate Action Plan of the Alpine Convention dates back from 2009. In the past year, in close cooperation with the other Thematic Working Bodies and further experts, the Alpine Climate Board (ACB) developed series of short- and mid-term concrete measures i.e. implementation pathways to fulfil the Alpine Climate Target System 2050. These are the core of the Climate Action Plan 2.0 which will be submitted to the Alpine Conference. The kick-off for matchmaking to form teams of implementers took place as a virtual workshop on September 15-16, 2020 and is supported by the ACB’s website: www.alpineclimate2050.org.
Further topics – Last but not least, all Thematic Working Bodies of the Alpine Convention have worked hard to deliver the outcomes of their dense mandates. A wealth of exchanges between experts and with stakeholders took place over the past 1 ½ year, analyses were drawn, and concrete tools and recommendations produced, which we look forward to presenting after the Alpine Conference. The new proposed mandates for the work of the Thematic Working Bodies as well as the topics of the incoming Swiss Presidency were also discussed.
Secretary General, Alenka Smerkolj –“The engagement of the Contracting Parties, the Observers and stakeholders to take the outcomes of this meeting to heart, is a vital ingredient for fulfilling the duty of the Alpine Convention. Reliable partnerships and joint forces are more important now than ever to strengthen the resilience of the Alps in the best interests of the people living within the Alpine Convention perimeter. Even though 2020 has been challenging in its obvious ways, a lot of positives have come out of it too, as was demonstrated during this intense meeting of the Permanent Committee!”.