French Presidency of the Alpine Convention

Text by the French Presidency of the Alpine Convention (2019-2020)

On 4 April 2019, at the Alpine Conference in Innsbruck, France officially took over the Presidency of the Alpine Convention from Austria.

State Secretary Brune Poirson, and later the French Minister for Ecological Transition, Barbara Pompili, chaired the Alpine Conference.

Presidency programme 2019-2020

France called for an operationalisation of the work of the Alpine Convention through the following measures:

  • Enhanced ownership of the Alpine Convention by local authorities: the fundamentals were already well established, but it was essential to systematise this, pursue local engagement and develop good practices further.
  • The development of synergies with the macro-regional strategy for the Alpine region (EUSALP), launched in 2016 as an important tool for regional policy and territorial cooperation. In a context of virtual meeting formats, the Presidency concluded with a common dialogue workshop with young people on climate issues, organised online on 10 December 2020 in cooperation with EUSALP (also chaired by France in 2020) and AlpWeek.

The French Presidency set its priorities on the basis of the following issues:

  1. Air quality: this issue is covered by Article 2c of the Alpine Convention, but had not been addressed in depth so far, while being a matter of grave concern in Alpine valleys. Progress on the issue was a scientific, environmental, and political imperative. Upon proposal of France, the 8th Report on the State of the Alps (RSA 8) was dedicated to air quality.
  2. Water as a resource and living environment was the focus of a conference which took place in Annecy in February 2020. This presidency event was an opportunity for tangible engagement on the part of local and regional authorities. The programme focused on two major issues: (1) Water as a resource, and adapting to climate change in Alpine territories, (2) The physical restoration of watercourses and rivers as an asset for Alpine areas. The conference proceedings are available here. Based on the results of the Conference and the work of the former Platform of the Alpine Convention on Water Management in the Alps, the XVI Alpine Conference adopted a Declaration on integrated and sustainable water management in the Alps to steer future work on this topic.
  3. France made biodiversity a key theme and called for it to become a priority on a par with climate. In cooperation with ALPARC and UNEP, the Presidency organised a “Mountain Biodiversity Day”. This virtual and global event allowed relaying the messages from the Declaration on the Protection of Mountain Biodiversity and its Promotion at International Level, adopted by the XVI Alpine Conference with the objective of reinforcing the consideration of mountain biodiversity issues within, in particular, the processes of the IUCN and the Convention on Biological Diversity. Initially planned for 2020, this event had to be postponed due to the context and took place on 13 January 2021, i.e. shortly after the end of the French Presidency.
  4. Sustainable tourism was the subject of particular attention as a potentially significant contribution to the three axes mentioned above. France had therefore decided to work on Alpine tourist destinations by proposing the creation of a concrete tool to support destinations to improve their practices and enable their transition to sustainable activities. A link had of course to be made between the current economic situation, the recovery and the methodology. This work resulted in the publication of a handbook in autumn 2021.

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