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Espace Mont-Blanc to protect the one of Europe’s highest peaks

Italy, France and Switzerland, united under the banner of the Espace Mont-Blanc project, and committed to protecting the mountain from further environmental depletion.

International cooperation pays off and the three countries involved in the great conservation effort around the Mont-Blanc area know it well. Italy, France and Switzerland started work collaboratively, founding the Espace Mont-Blanc in 1991. The idea originated in occasion of the celebration of the bicentennial of the first ascent of one of the highest peaks in Europe.

A privileged laboratory of experimentation between three countries, around one geographic region of incomparable importance: the Mont-Blanc. The aim was and still is to work on the sustainable development and preservation of the delicate mountainous area, where in just 150 years the surface of perennial snow has shrunk about 50 per cent. This year Espace Mont-Blanc celebrates its 25th anniversary.

The three regions around the Mont Blanc
The three regions around the Mont Blanc

Eco innovation en altitude

A trans-boundary cooperation project involving numerous experimental activities on the effects of climate change at high altitudes was started in 2013. A fruitful collaboration, Eco innovation en altitude had the major goal of finding lasting solutions for the management of high altitude structures such as huts and bivouacs.

The project lasted two years during which the countries shared knowledge and best practices and defined common strategies to spread awareness on environmental sustainability. Different actions were taken, such as the environmental campaign that engaged more than 500 hikers. High altitude refuges such as Rifugio Guide del Cervino were directly involved as well: energy efficient systems to treat grey water were installed and tested, along with new systems to handle waste and recycle better. Refuge hosts were trained on sustainability practices. Environmental audits were conducted during the project to evaluate the experiments.

A future of sustainable development

After years of study and work, in 2006 Espace Mont-Blanc developed the Sustainable Development Schema. Between 2007 and 2013, the Plan Intégré Transfrontalier (Transboundary Integrated Plan, or PIT), financed by the European programme for France-Italy cooperation (ALCOTRA), led to the realisation of concrete actions. Today the Espace Mont-Blanc launches the priorities issued by its Stratégie d’Avenir Pour le Mont Blanc (Strategy for the Future of Mont Blanc). In 2014 The Mont Blanc Transboundary Conference approved the Strategy for the Future, a major tool for ensuring consistency of public policies regarding the territories around Mont Blanc.

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