Regional Sustainable Development in the European Alps
Title: Regional Sustainable Development in the European Alps
Author: BALSIGER, Jörg
Series/Number: EUI MWP; 2008/23
Whereas transboundary regionalism has become a dominant trend in European and international economic and political integration, contemporary earth system governance continues to be characterized by functionally separated issue areas organized as international regimes. The evolution of this system has mirrored the historical process of nation state building, which entailed the reorganization of local interests and identities along functional and national lines. Growing political attention to environmental problems, however, has revealed the limits of functionally separating what is ecologically interdependent. Current processes of regionalization provide a vehicle for innovative approaches to sustainable development. Using subnational and cross border regionalism as a point of departure, this paper explores transboundary regionalism as a model for earth system governance by examining the Alpine Convention as a case study. Although regional environmental agreements have been negotiated in the past, they have narrowly focused on water quality and fisheries. The Alpine Convention, an international agreement among eight European states and the European Union signed in 1991, seeks the protection and sustainable development of a globally significant mountain region. The Convention has also fostered the establishment of a large number of transalpine organizations as well as a nascent alpine identity. In order to critically assess the promise of supranational regionalism in environmental governance, the paper traces the evolution of the Convention from the perspective of territoriality, substantive scope, and institutional form. The paper concludes with a cautiously optimistic note and points to other supranational regional initiatives the Alpine Convention has inspired.
Subject: Governance; Supranationalism; International Agreements; Regional Policy; Environmental Policy; European Alps
Type of Access: openAccess