Lessons learnt from the Alpine Space project HEALPS2 and the partners’ networks.
On December 9th, more than eighty people participated at the second transnational stakeholder workshop of the project HEALPS2 to learn about innovative approaches for sustainable lifestyles in the Alps. The exchange was organised online in the framework of the Alpine Week Intermezzo 2020.
The potential of peripheral regions and protected areas for using natural resources is still a treasure waiting to be revealed. Valorising natural resources and integrating them into sustainable local economic value chains is a major challenge for regional developers, municipalities and other local stakeholders. Hence, the guiding question of the workshop was how can we bring together healthy living, sustainable resource use and new job opportunities in the different Alpine territories?
In this sense, Stéphane Adam from the French Federation of Nature Parks explained the success story of “Valeurs Parcs” a trademark which labels products and services coming from the park region and fulfilling specific criteria on ecological and social standards. Daniela Bredow from Nature Park Nagelfluhkette, the first transnational park between Germany, provided valuable insights on the park’s cooperation networks in the accommodation and food sector. Special attention was paid to the local beef production initiative “Naturpark Vollmilchkalb” which was founded by three mayors particularly interested in sustainable agriculture and landscape management.
Beatrice Demeglio from the Nature Park Aree Protette dell’Ossola in Italy presented the project Sociaalp which aims at relaunching the agricultural sector in the very remote zones of the region. At the heart of this project stays an agricultural network of producers, cooperatives and local institutions which aims at valorising customs and traditions such as terrace cultivation and the breeding of old cereal varieties. Moreover, the project is a unique opportunity to create jobs for socially marginalized people. As climate change is an urgent issue in the Alps, Julia Plattner, member of the Association Wanderers for a Changing World gave a talk on the project Climate Walk where several young people want to combine research, education and media-art across Europe to understand regional experiences of Climate Change.
These project approaches were complemented by an input of Dr. med. Elisabeth Gaus which added precious findings on the health impact of natural resources and especially physical activity outside. According to Dr. Gaus, movement in nature is not only the basis for our wellbeing but also for our physical and mental health. Moving outside not only improves the cardiovascular system and increases the oxygen supply in the body - it can also improve depressive moods and contribute to a healthy sense of well-being. Indeed, several scientific studies confirm that exercising outside in nature is very likely the best medicine to prevent diseases.
Though the workshop was organized online, innovative methods allowed for an interactive participatory exchange of the participants: two groups analysed the potential of internal and external success factors for the development of health tourism strategies; another group worked on youth perspectives and engagement aiming at involving young peoples’ wishes and needs for the Alpine region in order to stay or come back. And still another group prepared an outlook on the future scenario of health tourism in the Alps.
The workshop results are published on our project website and Facebook.
HEALPS2 is an Interreg Alpine Space project co-financed by the European Union via the European Development Fund and the New Regional Policy in Switzerland.