A balanced ecosystem and human well-being go hand in hand in the Alps. Young people in the Alps are not only aware of this connection: they also recognise that measures to secure the services provided by natural environments affect many areas of life.
This is among the central findings of the Youth Parliament of the Alpine Convention (YPAC), held last week from 16 to 20 March 2015 in the Slovenian town of Kamnik. This year’s theme “My Green Alps – ecosystem services in times of climate change” was inspired by the international recharge.green project, which seeks to balance nature conservation and the production of renewable energy. It is co-financed by the EU in the framework of the Alpine Space programme. The Slovenian partners of recharge.green provided expert support to the young politicians, while CIPRA, as a partner of both recharge.green and YPAC, carried out public relations work and assisted in exchanges with political representatives and the Permanent Secretariat of the Alpine Convention.
Laws alone are not enough
In their discussions with the decision-makers, the young people discovered that politics is not always the right place in which to safeguard the services of natural areas. Consciousness-raising measures have to accompany any legal framework. Thus raising people’s awareness was a recurring theme among the ten demands set out during the course of the week by the 70 or so young people present, who hailed from every Alpine country.
The commitment of these young people was acknowledged by representatives of “high” politics, with Milan Brglez, president of the Slovenian national parliament in Ljubljana, where the final debate was held, emphasising: “The Youth Parliament of the Alpine Convention is encouraging proof that young people are aware of their habitat and that they are taking responsibility for their future.”
Europe is calling!
Another concern of the youthful attendees was to strengthen local identity and the cultural heritage. Cassiano Luminati, president of the Swiss region of Valposchiavo and a guest at YPAC 2015, believes that Europe needs these young Alpine citizens and their ability to move seamlessly between local identity and intercultural exchanges: they can usefully provide more content for the European Strategy for the Alps, currently under development.
Further information: http://www.ypac.eu/press, http://www.recharge-green.eu/infoservice-2/media-information/, www.ypac.eu/resolutions