On December 10, 2020, at the XVI Alpine Conference, Switzerland took over the Presidency of the Alpine Convention for the years 2021-2022 from France.
Together with the other Alpine countries, the Permanent Secretariat of the Alpine Convention and the observers, Switzerland promoted climate protection and climate change adaptation in the Alpine region.
For its two-year Presidency, Switzerland chose three areas of focus: climate as the main theme, sustainable transport, and Alpine towns.
- With the Alpine Climate Target System 2050 and the Climate Action Plan 2.0, the Alpine Convention has set itself the goal of making the Alps climate-neutral and climate-resilient. Switzerland wanted to contribute to the achievement of this goal and planned several projects to this end.
- Mobility levels and capacity demands on the transport networks are high in the Alps, which are at the same time a highly sensitive natural environment. To keep the impact on the environment to a minimum, Switzerland committed to making transport more resource-friendly and to heightening awareness of the unique natural environment of the Alps.
- Finally, Switzerland wished to give new impetus in the urban areas of the Alps by addressing environmental and social issues. Switzerland promoted sustainable construction and renovation in the Alps and demonstrated that Alpine towns can adapt to climate change through spatial planning measures.
THE FIVE-POINT PLAN: projects and events
Within the framework of the three areas of focus, Switzerland implemented a five-point plan during its 2021-2022 presidency: cycle tourism, the "Climate Hour", sustainable construction and renovation in the Alps, Alpine towns, and the modal shift policy.
Between 2021 and 2022, a series of events and projects was organised, bringing together actors from across the Alpine region. In this context, the active inclusion of young people in the different projects was a fundamental element for the Swiss Presidency.
- Cycle tourism: The first event took place on April 22, 2021 with the international conference "MoVe the Alps". During the conference, participants discussed how to promote sustainable and climate-friendly cycle tourism in the Alpine region. During the summer, the 2021 edition of YOALIN will take place, where sustainable mobility by bike, train and foot will play a central role.
- Climate Hour: On June 5, 2021, World Environment Day, Switzerland launched the Climate Hour. This decentralised event aims to show the variety of small and large climate actions in the Alpine region.
- Sustainable construction and renovation in the Alps: In the context of the 10th anniversary of the Constructive Alps Architecture Prize, a conference was held on June 10, 2021 on this topic.
- Alpine towns: The 9th Report on the State of the Alps focused on Alpine towns. Alpine urban spaces were highlighted for the first time along with their climatic, environmental, and social challenges. Together with Alpine towns and other partners, Switzerland also launched the project "Climate Action in Alpine Towns", which involves the local population in promoting climate-friendly measures in the Alps. A peer learning workshop on the topic climate action in Alpine towns took place on June 18, 2021.
- Modal shift policy: The Swiss Presidency wanted to strengthen coordination between the Alpine states in the fields of transit traffic and road-rail transfer of transalpine traffic, which is an essential pillar for a sustainable transport policy. To this end, the Simplon Alliance initiative was launched by the Swiss Minister for Transport, Simonetta Sommaruga.
Switzerland also led the participatory elaboration of the new Multi-Annual Work Programme of the Alpine Convention for 2023-2030.