The pressures facing mountains are similar around the world, which is why the Alpine Convention has been joining forces with other mountain regions to exchange with and learn from each other. We work to bring strong messages to the table on behalf of the world’s mountains in global negotiations.
The Alpine Convention is also active in several international institutions and processes related to climate change and the environment.
The Alpine Convention is the first case of an international treaty focusing on a transnational mountainous area. However, many of the issues dealt with within the Alpine Convention are of interest in other mountainous regions of the world. Therefore Alpine Convention’s activities include an “external aspect”, which takes the form of direct or indirect support of or cooperation with relevant governance bodies in other mountainous regions of the world. This cooperation leads to a fruitful worldwide exchange of experiences and to the building of a global platform for representing the interests of mountainous regions.
Hereafter, the cooperation of the Alpine Convention with other mountain ranges of the world is briefly presented.
The Carpathian Convention
The Framework Convention on the Protection and Sustainable Development of the Carpathians (“The Carpathian Convention”) was signed in 2003 by the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, the Slovak Republic and Ukraine and has been in force since 2006. Alike the Alpine Convention, it consists of a framework convention and thematic protocols (on Biodiversity, Sustainable Forest Management, Sustainable Tourism, Sustainable Transport and Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development). The initiative for the negotiations of the Carpathian Convention was given by the UNEP Regional Office for Europe (ROE), which also hosts the Interim Secretariat of the Convention.
The Alpine Convention States (in particular Italy and Austria) played an active role in the process of establishment of the Carpathian Convention, after an “Alpine-Carpathian partnership” had been launched during the UN International Year of the Mountains 2002. On 13 December 2006 the presidencies and secretariats of the Alpine and Carpathian Conventions signed a Memorandum of Understanding. The two secretariats cooperate regularly and reciprocally attend meetings.
The Pyrenees represent a very important landscape and biodiversity reservoir shared by three States (Andorra, France, Spain). The Pyrenean Climate Change Observatory was set up in January 2010 by the Working Community of the Pyrenees with the main aim of following and understanding the climate evolution in the Pyrenees, limiting its impacts and providing adaptation to its effects through adaptation strategies for socio-economic sectors and the most fragile natural areas. The Permanent Secretariat of the Alpine Convention is a member of the Advisory Board of the Pyrenean Climate Change Observatory. Both organisations cooperate through joint projects and events.
Hindu Kush Himalaya
Intergovernmental cooperation is picking up speed in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) region, led by ICIMOD (International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development). ICIMOD is an intergovernmental knowledge and learning centre of the eight HKH countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan) and has existed since 1983.
ICIMOD organised the first HKH Science-Policy forum in 2018, then published the Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment in 2019, a collection of scientific research about mountain issues and the HKH specifically, as well as offering insights for policymakers. A year later, ICIMOD published the HKH Call for Action, based on the Assessment, outlining six urgent actions to take for sustainable mountain development in the region. Following this, the first Hindu Kush Himalaya Ministerial Mountain Summit took place in 2020 “to further the mountain agenda of a prosperous, peaceful, and poverty-free HKH.” To continue and strengthen this cooperation, a High-Level Task Force was mandated to assess the feasibility of establishing a regional institutional mechanism for the HKH. The Task Force is coordinated by ICIMOD.
In 2022, the Permanent Secretariat and ICIMOD organised a joint webinar as well as a study visit of members of the Task Force and ICIMOD to Innsbruck, to share information and discuss issues of transnational mountain governance and sustainable development. Cooperation for awareness-raising on mountain issues is also ongoing.
In 2007 a political initiative for establishment of Andean Initiative was launched by Argentina and Peru. A Conference was organized in Tucumán (Argentina) where the Government representatives of Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Perú and Venezuela signed the Tucumán Declaration for promotion of sustainable development in the mountain areas of the sub-region. The Declaration was officially presented to the Permanent Committee of the Alpine Convention in October 2007. The Alpine Convention confirmed the willingness to cooperate with the Andean Initiative.
Resolution by the Dinaric States
The Alpine Conference of 2006 declared The Western Balkans to be an area of “priority importance for cooperation” for the Alpine Convention on the initiative of Italy. Under Slovenian presidency in 2009 a process in view of achieving a common declaration was launched.
A common Resolution by the Dinaric States (“on the sustainable development of the Dinaric arc region”) was negotiated in 2010 and approved on 9 March 2011 by the Ministers or High representatives of Albania, Croatia, Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Slovenia on the side of the XI Alpine Conference. This Resolution intends to pave the way to a possible future instrument of international law, similar to the Alpine and Carpathian Convention.
Caucasus Mountain Co-operation
The Caucasus mountain range links together two seas on a territory with unique geological and environmental characteristics. With the aim of environmental protection and support for the sustainable development, the Caucasus countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, the Russian Federation and Turkey) stepped together with a meeting of the Authorized Representatives on the Development of a Legal Instrument for the Protection of the Caucasus Mountain Ecosystem in 2001 where a resolution recognizing the need of a legal instrument was signed.
One of the first steps towards cooperation in the Caucasus region was made through forming synergies between existing projects and fostering multilateral partnerships for mountain issues within the region as well as with the other mountain regions of the world. The project “Sustainable development of mountainous regions of Caucasus” was launched, inspired by the Alliance in the Alps network and financially supported by some Alpine Countries, with a goal of providing a draft for development programmes for eight mountain villages.
Mountain partnership in the Central Asia started in 2000 with the establishment of The Central Asian Mountain Partnership (CAMP) in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. The main aim of the project was to promote sustainable mountain development to ensure better living conditions for poor majority of mountain people. In the first phases CAMP was working in four main areas: resource use, product development and marketing, village development, and policy dialogue. In 2003 CAMP established the Alliance of Central Asian Mountain Communities (AGOCA), after the model of “Alliance in the Alps”, as a network of mountain communities with a goal of promoting the interests of the mountain communities, improve communication between mountain villages and exchange of knowledge and experiences. Nowadays AGOCA comprises of 70 participating villages and is the reference organization for coordinating transboundary cooperation projects.
The Permanent Secretariat of the Alpine Convention has cooperated in the past with CAMP and AGOCA and some of the Alpine Convention governments finance specific small-scale projects in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan.
Despite their geographical diversity, mountain regions worldwide also show great similarities in their challenges. Therefore, the Alpine Convention acts in a spirit of cooperation with several partners around the globe to exchange experiences and to raise awareness on the specificities of mountainous regions. This transcontinental cooperation contributes to the goal of protecting a balanced and sustainable development of mountain areas.
Hereafter, the international dimension of the Alpine Convention is briefly outlined.
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
The Alpine Convention has been active within the UNFCCC framework in order to raise the awareness of climate negotiators of the particular vulnerability of mountains to climate change and of their specific solutions. Contracting Parties and the Permanent Secretariat, in cooperation with other mountain areas of the world, have been organising or participating in side-events dedicated to mountains in most sessions of the COP since 2011. The Secretary general also delivered several speeches in the high-level segment.
Convention on Biological Diversity
In 2018, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) celebrated 25 years of “safeguarding life on Earth”. The CBD promotes nature and human wellbeing and is structured according to the following three main objectives:
- conservation of biological diversity;
- sustainable use of the components of biological diversity;
- fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources.
Considering the important role mountainous regions play in the scope of biological diversity on the one hand and the Alpine Convention's Protocol on Nature Protection and Landscape Conservation on the other hand, a Memorandum of Understanding between the CBD, the Alpine Convention and the Carpathian Convention was signed on 29 May 2008 in Bonn (DE) in order to facilitate the exchange of information and experience between the parties and to formalize their collaboration for the implementation of the CBD and the programme of work on mountain biodiversity.
The Mountain Partnership was set up as a “Partnership type-2”in the framework of the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development as a voluntary alliance with the objective of creating a platform for cooperation among all states, organisations and NGOs interested in sustainable mountain protection. The legal basis for its establishment are Article 13 of Agenda 21 and Article 42 of the Johannesburg Action Plan. It currently includes 50 governments, 16 intergovernmental organizations and 143 major groups (e.g. civil society, NGOs and the private sector) including the Alpine Convention. Its Secretariat is hosted by The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome (IT).
Each year on 11 December, the Permanent Secretariat of the Alpine Convention celebrates International Mountain Day by organizing the cultural-literary festival “Reading mountains”.
European Environment Agency
In 2012, a partnership agreement was signed between the European Environment Agency (EEA) and the Permanent Secretariat of the Alpine Convention. This is being implemented via two-year work programmes. A close cooperation is pursued in data collection and data sharing, contributions to publications, networking and dissemination of activities. The latter aims at fostering exchanges between European transnational regions and mountain conventions on environmental observation and information. In this sense, the EEA collects and harmonizes national data and is supported herein by the EIONET network (European Environmental Information and Observation Network).
The Permanent Secretariat of the Alpine Convention is actively involved in the Climate Adaptation Platform Climate-ADAPT, which is maintained by the EEA. The manifold, common topics, with a focus of climate change, and the need of data sharing makes the cooperation with the EEA and EIONET particularly important.
Forest Europe Process
In 2009 the Permanent Secretariat of the Alpine Convention obtained observer status to the Forest Europe Process.