Shaping the future of Europe's mountain regions: high-level experts gather in Brussels


Over 50 high-level mountain experts, including several Mountain Partnership members, convened in Brussels, Belgium, on 11 January 2024 to discuss the future of Europe's mountain regions and enabling post-2027 European Union (EU) policies for these regions.

Organized by the EU-funded MOVING project, the European foresight workshop for resilient mountain areas aimed at setting out strategic pathways for mountain regions up to 2030. Focusing on four key archetypes – economy, nature, knowledge and innovation, and niche and diversification – experts worked towards developing scalable strategic options for these vital areas.

Isabel Carvalhais, Member of the European Parliament and part of the RUMRA & Smart Villages Intergroup, delved into the future prospects of mountain areas. She expressed a need for a paradigm shift in policymaking, stating, "For three decades, we've been reinventing the wheel. We need real empowerment for local communities in shaping policies. The in-depth, granular evidence from MOVING is set to drive effective policymaking for mountain areas."

Arianna Pasa from European Commission's Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development highlighted the EU's commitment to mountain regions. Despite the absence of a specific EU agenda for mountain areas, she pointed out that support to mountain regions is stated in Article 174 and Article 175 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

Dominique Barjolle, President of the Origin, Diversity and Territories Forum, presented foresight scenarios for 2050 outlined across the 23 MOVING mountain regions. These ambitious scenarios, offering visionary pathways for mountain areas, challenge the prevailing pessimism and set a course for positive change. "Local communities are key to transforming their future. MOVING is pivotal in changing perceptions and empowering them to be the architects of their own destiny through empowerment, collective action and improved governance," said Barjolle.

The afternoon discussions delved into policies to scale up strategic options for mountain value chains, with a focus on global perspectives and specific insights from France and Catalonia, Spain.

Rosalaura Romeo, Coordinator of the Mountain Partnership Secretariat at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, underlined the necessity of collaborative efforts for sustainable mountain development, highlighting initiatives such as the Business Incubator and Accelerator for Mountains and Islands and the Mountain Partnership Products certification scheme for eco-friendly mountain products, impacting over 140 producer organizations worldwide. She said, "Fostering strategic partnerships for action, co-designing solutions to tackle knowledge barriers, and strengthening national, regional and international policy frameworks as well as financial support for mountains are key for achieving an inclusive and sustainable future."

Thomas Bunel from the French National Agency for Territorial Cohesion delved into the nuances of the French Mountain Policies. He identified three core elements – Empowerment, Collective Action, and Governance – as the pillars of France's approach to mountain policy.

Bernat Claramunt from the Ecological and Forestry Applications Research Centre shed light on the recent updates to the Catalan High Mountain Law. This law aims to balance the wellbeing of mountain residents with a renewed focus on people and governance.

In a final round table moderated by Professor Gianluca Brunori from the University of Pisa, Euromontana Director Guillaume Corradino underscored the importance of in-depth analyses provided by projects like MOVING, which offer detailed insights on the added value of mountain value chains beyond their economic value.

The event, organized by the Origin, Diversity and Territories Forum, the European Association for Innovation in Local Development and the Association of European Regions for Products of Origin and hosted collaboratively by the representation offices of Region Tuscany and Pays de la Loire, marked a significant step towards empowering mountain regions and shaping their future.

The MOVING project is an EU-funded H2020 project focused on building capacities and co-developing policy frameworks to establish new or upscaled value chains, contributing to the resilience and sustainability of mountainous areas in Europe.

Read the press release by the European Association for Innovation in Local Development

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