Governance and Youth in the Alps

Initiating youth participation

The involvement of young people and the consideration of their needs are of great importance, especially at community level. Young people tend to leave rural areas and migrate to urban regions. A common reason for this is the lack of personal fulfilment, as young people often do not feel represented in their community. At the same time, a lot of decision-makers and politicians are unaware of the benefits a young and active population can bring to a region. 

From September to January, the Governance and Youth in the Alps project (GaYA) initiates participatory processes in different pilot areas - from Kranjska Gora in Slovenia to Chambery in France - to strengthen the participation of young people in regional policy and to learn about innovative approaches of participation.


Map of pilot regions


Safiental is a municipality in the Surselva Region in the canton of Graubünden in Switzerland. The municipalities of Valendas, Versam, Safien and Tenna merged on 1 January 2013 into the new municipality of Safiental. The Safien valley is branching off the Vorderrhein valley. Safiental has an area of 15100 ha. Of this area, about 38.8% is used for agricultural purposes, while 31.1% is forested. The rest of the land is settled by 1.2% (buildings or roads) and 29.0% is unproductive land.

Of the agricultural land, 11 ha is used for orchards and vineyards, 1,398 ha is fields and grasslands and 4,683 ha consists of alpine grazing areas. Since 1984/85 the amount of agricultural land has decreased by 416 ha Over the same time period the amount of forested land has increased by 362 ha. Rivers and lakes cover 238 ha in the municipality.

The Municipality of Safiental has overall 900 inhabitants, with 120 young persons between 14 and 25 years old. Therefore it can be considered as the smallest pilot area of the GaYA project.But despite its small size, or even because of that, the community is committed to its young inhabitants.For example, annual events are organised at which representatives of the region and young people meet and innovative approaches to jobs and housing are developed. Intergenerational exchange is also a priority within the community.

Alta Polcevera Valley

The Alta Val Polcevera counts five Municipalities (Campomorone, Ceranesi, Mignanego, Sant'Olcese and Serra Riccò) with approximately 28.337 inhabitants.

The valley is characterized by the natural values ​​of the landscape, among which are in particular to highlight the morphological elements, the slopes still considerably covered by woods interspersed with clearings and fields.

Alta Val Polcevera presents an economic system linked to the artisanal activities. There are also important farms both in the dairy sector and in the production of vegetables.

The agricultural sector has always characterized the internal landscape and plays a central role because allows to contrast  the abandonment of the territory, as a means of constant monitoring and maintenance.

The valley floor has always had a strong industrial attitude, favored by its privileged geographical location: kilns, paper mills, glassmakers, marble mining were the first pre-industrial activities of the valley.

Stura, Orba and Leira Valleys

The Stura, Orna and Leira valleys of the five Municipalities (Mele, Masone, campo Ligure, Rossiglione and Tiglieto), that counts 12.684 inhabitants, has aspects of contiguity and uniformity, not only territorial but also historical-cultural.

The rural area is still lively from an entrepreneurial point of view, for small entrepreneurial initiatives in the "enlarged" tourism industry (farms, crafts); there is good basic potential for the enjoyment of the territory (widespread and well-maintained hiking trails, environmental and natural attractions).

In fact much of the area is affected by the Beigua Regional Natural Park, the largest protected natural area of Liguria, managed by the Beigua Park Authority.

The valleys are historically known for traditional handicrafts (iron, filigree, paper, ...) as well as for remarkable dairy production; still today are also active small and medium-sized industries operating in the field of construction and metallic carpentry. In particular, in the Municipality of Campo Ligure, the companies involved in the processing of filigree are important, with a dedicated museum, while for the Municipalities of Tiglieto and Rossiglione the main activity is agriculture. The economy of the Municipality of Mele is mainly based on industrial activity (wood, paper, food).

Municipality Salorno/Salurn - Italy

The Municipality Salorno/Salurn consists of the principal town Salorno and the two villages Buchholz and Gfrill, with a total population of 3.849 (approx. 62% Italian speaking and 38 % German speaking). It is the southernmost village in the Autonomous Province of Bolzano/South Tyrol and is located on the German- Italian language border. The municipality covers about 3.320 hectare and is located between 207 and 1787m above sea level, which explains the scenic, morphologic and demographic characteristics. One third of the area is used for viniculture and orcharding, the rest is covered by forests, which are part of the “Monte Corno Nature Park“. Due to the municipality’s special historic, cultural/societal, geographic characteristics, central issues are: The conservation of the forests and the mountain landscape and its settlements as well as the preservation of traditional farming and agricultural practices, the control of the river Etsch/Adige, i.e. through the construction and maintenance of dykes, and the preservation and best possible use of the historical village center.


30 000 very hospitable people live in the Bregenzerwald. In 24 ancient villages with a farming tradition and an interesting mixture of old and new architecture. The Bregenzerwald with its 24 municipalities borders on the Lake Constance region in the Rhine Valley in the west, on Germany (Bavaria – Districts of Lindau and Oberallgäu) in the north, the Kleinwalsertal in the northeast, the Tannberg and the Arlberg region in the east and the Großes Walsertal in the south.

Agriculture, tourism and craftsmanship play the most important roles in economy. The three branches traditionally cooperate closely – for the profit of the inhabitants and the tourists. The Bregenzerwald landscapes are a nicely shaped combination of hills, wide plains, romantic river valleys and impressive peaks. Perfect for exercise freaks and nature lovers.

In the Bregenzerwald region, there are a large number of institutions which actively contribute their share to develop the living environment Bregenzerwald in various fields. It is their aim to work on a common impetus for a sustainable and deliberate development of the region. These regional partners are for example “Regio Bregenzerwald”, “KäseStrasse Bregenzerwald”, Werkraum Bregenzerwald”, „Offene Jugendarbeit Bregenzerwald”. Here you can find more information on the region:

Großes Walsertal


The Großes Walsertal is characterized by steep sparsely populated mountain sides, which gives the region its unique aspect. The REGIO Großes Walsertal counts six municipalities with approximately 3 400 inhabitants: Fontanella/Faschina, St. Gerold, Raggal/Marul, Sonntag/Buchboden, Thüringerberg and Blons. With 18 inhabitants per km2, the Großes Walsertal is exceptionally sparsely populated compared to other regions in the province. Visiting the mountains or the villages you won't find any industrial chimneys but grazing cattle instead.

Almost 180 agricultural businesses clearly show that cattle and dairy farming continues to be the main source of income of the Walser population. Apart from that, tourism with 180 000 overnight stays per year and trade are important sources to earn a living. Since there are no industrial companies in the valley, a lot of Walser people commute to work in the Walgau and the Rhine Valley every day. In 2000, the Großes Walsertal became UNESCO Biosphere 

Municipality of Kranjska Gora - Slovenia

The Municipality of Kranjska Gora lies in the far northwest of Slovenia, bordering Italy and Austria. The area is 256.3 km2, with parts being included in the protected green belt of the Triglav National Park (TNP) and 56.66% in NATURA 2000. The largest and most developed town as regards tourism is Kranjska Gora, where the administrative centre of the Municipality is also based.

Tourism is the most important form of industry – Kranjska Gora is an winter tourism resort, maily oriented towards families. Due to good connections with central Slovenia, many Slovenians from urban areas own a weekend house in Kranjska Gora (leading to very high real estate prices). Beside winter tourism (skiing in Kranjska Gora, ski jumping in Planica), summer tourism is developing fast, especially with regards to active holidays (hiking, mountaineering, cycling, summer sledding, climbing, …).

Despite growing tourism sector, the region is experiencing a demographic decline and outmigration of youth to other regional and national centers where grammar schools, universities and diverse jobs are.

Municipality of Idrija - Slovenia

The Municipality of Idrija is located in south-eastern foothills of the Alps. It is well known for 500-year old history of mercury mining, craftsmanship of Idrija lace and traditional dish Idrija žlikrofi. In 2012, the mercury mining heritage of Idrija was inscribed on UNESCO World Heritage List after a joint nomination with Spanish mercury mine of Almaden. With 5957 inhabitants in the city and less than 12.000 inhabitants in the municipality (SURS, 2014) it is a small- to mid-sized town in Slovenian context and a rather small town in European context.

In spite of its small size, remoteness, difficult road access, absence of train, airplane or water connection, mining and industrial history, soil pollution, and geomorphological disconnectedness from neighbouring regions, Idrija has developed into an important global and regional node, with growing economy (notably multinational corporations Kolektor and Hidria), and with one of the lowest levels of unemployment in Slovenia.

The Municipality of Idrija has a clear vision for the future and is constantly working to achieve settled goals: to be environmentally-friendly, socially just and high-tech developed. This goal can only be achieved by actively involving young citizens and encouraging citizen participation in general.