Actions putting the Territorial Agenda into practice

Climate action in Alpine towns

Climate action in Alpine towns

Perceptions of the Alps are often rather rural than urban. However, around one third of Alpine inhabitants live in densely populated Alpine towns with unique features. The Swiss Presidency of the Alpine Convention in 2021/2022 is making Alpine towns and climate its priorities. As for climate, especially in the vulnerable mountain areas, we have to act now. This provides the background for this pilot, which will put climate action in Alpine towns to the fore. Switzerland, together with Germany, Slovenia, Austria, Norway, the European Commission and the secretariat of the Alpine Convention will support the Alpine Town of the Year Association and the selected towns in implementing the pilot action.

Climate action in Alpine towns


Rationale and link to Territorial Agenda

A built environment that enables low emissions plays a key role for a positive future. This pilot action therefore wants to connect spatial development more strongly with climate issues, contributing to the objective of a Green Europe. For implementation, the aim is also to bring civil society, community and civil servants together, contributing to the objective of a Just Europe, showing that positive change can happen now. The pilot action will show that municipalities can implement low-threshold climate action right away by building on local potential. If local cooperation and coordination are encouraged, place-based and sustainable solutions can be developed that are supported by the whole society. By setting an example, the pilot action seeks to inspire other small and medium sized towns across Europe. Long-term impacts shall arise from the pilot action by building on existing resources, bottom-up actions and providing a sound framework with well-established networks in the Alpine area.

The pilot action relies strongly on Alpine partners in the field (i.e. Alpine Town of the Year Association and its member towns) and support from the Alpine Convention. Even though the project towns lie in Alpine countries, the process and results can be applicable to all territories.


Envisaged activities

‘Climate action in Alpine towns’ will deliver a tailor-made support framework to allow the participating Alpine towns to experiment and test approaches for citizen participation in relation to climate change adaptation or mitigation in ongoing planning processes. The pilot action will help the towns to improve methods and practices in the fields of citizen involvement, spatial planning and climate change by experimenting with new approaches and exchanging with the other towns. The following steps are foreseen:

  • Identify suitable towns: Start date for project activities in the first group of towns will be by the end of 2020 and for the second group in spring 2021.
  • Create local project teams: Set up of a project team consisting of representatives of the Alpine towns, young citizens, experts and other interested and relevant persons.
  • Support local planning processes: First, identify a relevant climate challenge in spatial planning which benefits from citizen involvement. Second, develop and implement a suitable planning and participation process with the local project team. It should be possible to address the identified climate challenge and develop spatial planning solutions for the local context with the involved citizens.

Anticipated outputs can range from developing strategies for the transformation of specific areas to small-scale actions. Primarily working on local level, the pilot action also seeks to reduce negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Envisaged lessons / results

‘Climate action in Alpine towns’ will deliver a support framework to allow the participating Alpine towns to experiment and test approaches for citizen participation in relation to climate change adaptation or mitigation in ongoing planning processes. The pilot action will help the towns to improve methods and practices in the fields of citizen involvement, spatial planning and climate change by experimenting with new approaches and exchanging with the project network. The following steps are foreseen:

  • Local project activities in Idrija, Tolmin, Villach, Belluno, Trento, Sonthofen, Brig-Glis, Annecy and Chambéry start in Spring 2021. They receive support from the lead and TA2030 partners
  • Scenarios for the future: A second process, complementing a scientific Report on the State of the Alps “Alpine towns”, will involve the group to develop future scenarios of successful and sustainable towns.

Anticipated outputs can range from developing strategies for the transformation of specific areas to small-scale actions intended to kick-start further activities. The report and the scenarios shall provide creative inputs for future urban development.


Envisaged lessons and results

Outputs of the pilot action are diverse, depending on the town’s needs: e.g. strategies, re-designing public spaces, greening, mobility measures, or awareness raising activities on specific issues. In the end, the partners would like to answer the following questions:

  • How can we develop low-threshold climate action in spatial planning?
  • How can we involve civil society more carefully in planning processes that relate to climate action?
  • How does the involvement change the awareness of citizens for a healthy environment in their town? How does this affect the perception of quality of life?
  • How could a sustainable Alpine town look after the next ten years?

Envisaged dissemination

Capitalisation and valorisation activities will include the preparation of a summary as a common output (by the end of 2022) that will be disseminated in the Territorial Agenda process and the Alpine Convention.

Furthermore, a final international event is envisaged for 2022, to present project results, open to all project partners, as well as international stakeholders and other interested participants.


Time planning

The project started in September 2020 and will be completed by the end of 2022.


Resources

All partners bring in own resources, e.g. funding, personnel or knowledge. Each participating town

  • will take over staff costs for the realisation of the project and participation in local workshops and international events; and
  • will receive funds for the participation process on a selected challenge related to climate change and/or spatial planning.

Indicative partners

Partners are Switzerland (lead), Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Norway, the European Commission and the Alpine Convention. The Alpine Towns of the Year Association and selected Alpine towns will play a key role. Discussions with other Alpine countries are ongoing.


Lead stakeholder

Federal Office for Spatial Development ARE, Switzerland
Marc Pfister (marc.pfister@are.admin.ch)


Key messages/ results/ updates

A built environment that enables low emissions plays a key role for a positive future. The pilot action “Climate action in Alpine towns” wants to connect spatial development more strongly with climate issues, contributing to the objective of a Green Europe. For implementation, the aim is also to bring civil society, community and civil servants together, contributing to the objective of a Just Europe, showing that positive change can happen now. Long-term impacts shall arise from the pilot action by building on existing resources, bottom-up actions and providing a sound framework with well-established networks in the Alpine area. A scientific report on Alpine towns with sustainable development scenarios for their future will complement the pilot.

The main goals of the pilot action “Climate action in Alpine towns” are:

  • Learn, connect and communicate the Territorial Agenda 2030;
  • Unlock new potentials & new development paths in towns;
  • Show potential of low-threshold climate action in spatial planning;
  • Support the voice of civil society to develop “just” solutions for climate action in spatial planning;
  • Create best-practices, lessons learned and knowledge that is applicable in all places;
  • Make use of a strong multilevel-cooperation network: Towns in an outside of the Alps, the Territorial Agenda partners and the Alpine Convention
18th of June Peer learning workshop “Climate action in Alpine towns – How to?”. Knowledge support to the local project consortia to develop climate action.
Date (Jan-Jun 2021) Main Activities
19th January Kick-off meeting for the TA2030 Partnership
29th January Kick off meeting with the Alpine towns
18th February Participation in the ESPON Joint session Pilots LAB TA2030, promoted by PT PRES & ESPON
6th May Participation in the pilot action “A future for lagging regions: fostering the implementation of spatial strategies” kick-off event “Putting the Territorial Agenda 2030 into practice”, promoted by the German Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community (BMI) and the German Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR)
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