Italian Parliament hosts mountain seminar


How can research and university studies be linked to sustainable development and job creation in the mountain areas of Italy? A seminar to discuss this issue was hosted in Rome on 2 July 2015 by Enrico Borghi, President of the Italian Parliamentary Intergroup for Mountain Development in collaboration with Università della Montagna (UNIMONT).  The seminar, "Mountain specificities in training and research for a viable and sustainable development,” stressed the importance of interventions to provide youth with mountain-specific cultural and operational tools to turn resources into professional opportunities.

Among the about one hundred participants were Italian Parliament Members, university professors and intergovernmental and civil society representatives, all linked by a common interest in sustainable mountain development. Alessia Vita attended the meeting on behalf of the Mountain Partnership Secretariat.

The role of universities and institutions, decentralized in the mountains, is critical to building knowledge and spurring the birth of innovative ideas. The experience of the Università della Montagna, a decentralized branch of Milan University, has proved that attracting young people to a small mountain village to build a network of over ten thousand people and create a centre of excellence that supports the creation of local start-ups is actually possible.

Participants shared their experiences agreeing on the need for mountain actors to join forces and ensure collaboration among political entities, such as municipalities, provinces and regions, as well as universities and research centres. The presence of a ‘mountain ambassador’ within the Parliament has been essential in ensuring sustainable mountain development is included in the national agenda, said Thomas Egger of the Switzerland Association for Mountain Regions (SAB) , who also described how mountains are addressed at Swiss national and subnational government level.

“Sustainable mountain development is the empowerment of local peoples. Investing in youth and training aimed at local mountain needs is what can create value, employment and profit,” Anna Giorgi, Director of the Interdepartmental Center, Ge.S.Di.Mont, of the Università della Montagna, told the audience.

Photo: FAO/Alessia Vita

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