Alpine guidelines for adapting to climate change


The 20th Conference of the Parties (COP20) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was a key moment for the environmental future of the planet. Delegations of more than 145 countries gathered from 1 to 12 December 2014 in Lima, Peru, to identify the conditions and a working paper for a common agreement that sets national goals for keeping global warming within 2 degrees Celsius.

The final document approved by the Conference should lead to the adoption, next year in Paris, of a universal and binding agreement aimed at reducing CO2 emissions but also able of intervening on adaptation measures, according to procedures to be defined. These procedures are often more suitable to contrast local impacts of climate change and strengthen the resilience of some territories, such as mountain areas.

In this regard, the Italian Ministry for the Environment, also brought the contribution of the Alpine Convention presenting, on 8 and 9 December, two side events dedicated to measures for local adaptation to climate change in the Alps and to the role of mountain forest ecosystem services in the absorption of CO2 for their active and sustainable management.

In its 2013-2014 Presidency of the Alpine Convention, the Italian Ministry for the Environment coordinated the
 work of the Contracting Parties, also 
receiving support from some of the main Alpine research 
centres: EURAC, Lombardy Foundation for the 
Environment and CURSA, with whose collaboration in Lima
 the main results of the work were presented in order to contribute to the debate and share experiences with other mountainous countries.

During the two side events the guidelines for local adaptation to climate change in the Alps were presented with the purpose of providing a reference point for policies and measures that, with the necessary adjustments, may also be applied in other mountainous areas all over the world. “The Guidelines that today we present come from the many local good practices in the Alps, to which we
 wish to assign a more general and broader value. In this
 line these guidelines refer to the local level, but look at
 global stakeholders. We are glad to present them in Lima 
as a contribution aimed at strengthening, harmonizing and
 promoting local adaptation policies and measures for
 mountain areas and beyond”. Such was the presentation of the document by the Presidency of the Alpine Convention.

As stated by the Italian Minister for the Environment Gian Luca Galletti: “The success of the agreements depends not only on the governments but also on all organizations of the civil society, thus enterprises, trade unions, NGOs, local authorities and individual citizens”. The Alpine Convention too has been working in this direction highlighting the opportunities of cooperation among different states and legal systems towards the identification of adaptation measures which consider the locally-developed experiences and competence, according to a bottom-up principle.

A contribution on the value of mountain forests was also presented: this issue was dealt with by the Alpine Convention with the aim of improving international cooperation in the field of multifunctional mountain forest management, improving the knowledge of their ecosystem services in terms of value for the local populations and the environment and fostering sustainable forestry as well as the enterprises of this sector. In Lima the emerging attention for the role of mountain forests in climate change policies was also stressed. Their CO2 storage ability has been widely acknowledged but there is also growing attention for the adapting abilities of forests and the forestry sector, which deserves to be considered. Forests not only can significantly contribute to the achievement of the CO2 reduction goals but also suffer the impacts of climate change and thus require appropriate adaptation policies and measures contributing to preserve their role of green infrastructures for the benefit of the territories, the citizens and the regional economies. Sectorial adaptation actions should be integrated into a wider concept of sustainable forest management, which envisages ecological and social factors, as well as economic and ecological risks to which the forestry sector risks to be exposed.

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By the Alpine Convention


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