The ecological significance of the Alps for a large part of Europe makes it necessary to find a balance between environmental protection and Alpine economic development, as well as the social wellbeing of Alpine inhabitants. The Alps are simultaneously one of the least densely populated parts of Europe and one of the most densely populated mountain regions in the world. Moreover, as a mountain area, they are characterised by very different living conditions and expectations of their inhabitants – depending on whether the focus is on urban centres, peri-urban areas or rural areas, which can be very remote.
The living conditions of inhabitants go beyond economic outputs and living standards. This is why the concept of quality of life – which also includes people’s personal perceptions and the cultural and value systems of a society – are at the forefront of public policies and thinking about sustainable development.
The territorial diversity of the Alps, resulting from natural conditions and social development, offers opportunities for Alpine inhabitants now and in the future. Yet these are also shaped by challenges such as climate or demographic changes, making it even harder to create a unified idea of a concept as complex as quality of life. The notion of quality of life nonetheless underpins public policy, and has been made one of the three priorities of the Multi-Annual Work Programme of the Alpine Convention 2023-2030.
Policies which aim for better quality of life put public interests at the forefront. The Alps can offer a high quality of life to their inhabitants but to benefit from this, we have to understand what makes each area unique and what quality of life means to inhabitants.
The 10th Report on the State of the Alps (RSA 10) will outline the status quo of quality of life in the Alps using quantitative and qualitative indicators. These can contribute to the implementation of the Multi-Annual Work Programme and deliver recommendations for future activities and policies in this field.