Sustainable regional development: Reconciling global and local dynamics and stakes in the Swiss Alps

Sommer, Rosmarie; Wallner, Astrid; Wiesmann, Urs Martin (2010). Sustainable regional development: Reconciling global and local dynamics and stakes in the Swiss Alps. In: Hurni, Hans; Wiesmann, Urs (eds.) Global Change and Sustainable Development: A Synthesis of Regional Experiences from Research Partnerships. Perspectives / NCCR North-South: Vol. 5 (pp. 531-546). Bern: Geographica Bernensia

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This article explores how global and local dynamics and stakes can be brought together when trying to combine conservation and regional development. For this purpose we analyse a series of studies carried out in the area of the Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch World Heritage Site (WHS). The approaches used in these studies to analyse the diversity and development of the region included data collection and evaluation of indicators such as population development, number of working places, occupation rates in various economic sectors and commuter balance, as well as interviews with key informants and assessment of existing planning tools. The major challenge of the newly declared World Heritage Region is that it is neither a political or administrative nor a cultural unit but constitutes a completely new type of space that breaks up and crosses traditional boundaries. The studies revealed an economic tertiarisation process and migration of the population from remote areas to regional centres. Tourism was identified as the key economic sector in the region. Regarding regional sustainability, the studies identified a need for quality dialogue and negotiation of interests and stakes. It was shown that in dealing with sustainability at the local level, many key issues cannot be resolved on the ground, as they depend on regional or national decisions, e.g. the conditions for tourism promotion in the region or economic validation of agricultural activity. We conclude from these findings that national or even international factors do not provide a basis for location-specific solutions, as they are often too general, and that the global label does not ensure sustainability in a designated WHS region; this depends entirely on local and regional dynamics.

Item Type:

Book Section (Book Chapter)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Integrative Geography > Unit Geography of Sustainable Development
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Integrative Geography
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > NCCR North-South Management Centre (discontinued)
10 Strategic Research Centers > Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)

UniBE Contributor:

Sommer, Rosmarie; Wallner, Astrid and Wiesmann, Urs Martin


300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 330 Economics




Perspectives / NCCR North-South


Geographica Bernensia




Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 14:19

Last Modified:

19 Nov 2015 14:35



URI: (FactScience: 210886)

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