There are more than 14 million people living in the Alps. Only 150 years ago, the Alpine population was about half the current size. Today, we see two phenomena happening in the Alps: overall population growth and depopulation of certain areas. People tend to live in easily accessible mountain valleys with access to jobs, education, healthcare and other social services. We are also noticing new population trends, such as the arrival of “new highlanders” (RSA5). Population changes also affect the environment and traditional Alpine landscape. The Alps are rich in cultures and languages, which influence the economic activities of the region. The Alpine population plays an important role in maintaining Alpine traditions while simultaneously promoting progress and innovation.
The first general obligation within the Alpine Convention (article 2, paragraph 2(a) focuses on population and culture. It sets the objective “to respect, preserve and promote the cultural and social independence of the indigenous population and to guarantee the basis for their living standards, in particular environmentally sound settlement and economic development, and promote mutual understanding and cooperation between Alpine and extra-Alpine populations”. Based on this obligation, the Declaration on Population and Culture was adopted in 2006. The 2017-2022 multiannual work programme again defines the Alpine population as a priority in the activities of the Alpine Convention.
Alpine cultural heritage is an integral part of the activities of the EU Strategy for the Alpine Region (EUSALP) Action Group 6, which deals with the topic of “Preservation and valorisation of natural resources, including water and cultural resources”, led by the Permanent Secretariat of the Alpine Convention and the Province of Carinthia.
The Role of Women in Mountain Regions was an international conference that took place on 18-19 April 2017 in Alpach, Tyrol (AT) and was organized in the scope of the Austrian Presidency of the Alpine Convention. Representatives from all mountain regions of the world were invited to network, to exchange best practices and to establish cooperation.
Usually women are particularly aware of the changes occurring in their environment and engage with initiatives to confront these changes. Therefore, the conference focused on the question of how women ecologically, economically and culturally shape, maintain and improve activities in the Alpine Region. During the Conference a marketplace took place where different organization had the opportunity to present their activities.
The output of the panel discussions finally led to the Declaration “Regional Solutions to Global Challenges” and points out the necessary steps to strengthen the role of women in mountain regions on the global level.
For further details, see the conference programme.