The general assembly of the association took place during the annual conference of CIPRA, which was held from 1 to 3 July in Biella (Italy), Alpine Town of the Year 2021. Our member cities discussed the usefulness and value of nature in the Alpine space through the mountain forests, which protect us from avalanches and purify the air we breathe, and the rivers and alpine pastures that supply us with drinking water, energy and food.
Springs that provide us with pure drinking water. Trees that create a pleasant microclimate. Or the sight of a landscape that invites us to dream: all these goods and services can be grouped under the term “ecosystem services”. But how can the exchange between mountain areas, where these services are produced, and urban areas, which benefit from them, be improved? What role do regional and transnational environmental policies, or the European Green Deal, play in this respect? How can these processes be made participatory and closer to the citizens? These questions were on the agenda of CIPRA’s annual conference in Biella (Italy) from 1 to 3 July 2021 under the title “Nature and Society in Balance – Ecosystem Services between City, Country and Mountain”. The member cities will be looking for suggestions and proposals for a new balance between nature and society, mountains and cities, discussing with representatives of politics, science and civil society new possibilities for implementation in the Alpine region and finding out about existing best practices for the sustainable protection of the natural heritage of the Alps.
A diverse program
After a more formal day with the general assembly of the association and a meeting of the board of directors, the CIPRA Annual Conference offered a varied programme. The relationship between man and nature was discussed from different perspectives. Riccardo Santolini, ecologist at the University of Urbino (Italy) explained the fundamental role of ecosystem services in regulation. Arnulf Hartl, director of the Institute of Ecomedicine at the private medical university Paracelsus in Salzburg, presented the positive impact of nature on health and well-being. Laura Secco, professor at the University of Padua (Italy), showed, through the example of forests, the potential of ecosystem services through certification. In the afternoon, Antonio De Rossi, architect and lecturer at the Politecnico di Torino (Italy), addressed the social dimension of mountain life and the prospects for a new habitability of the Alpine space. In addition, examples from Alpine regions were complemented by technical and scientific information and discussions on implementation possibilities.
The program was crowned by a public award ceremony for the title of “Alpine Town of the Year 2021” in Biella (Italy) in the Cathedral Square.