Primoz Skrt is Projekt Officer of the Alpine Space Interreg Programm.
We asked him a few questions about the SPARE and AlpES projects.
Dear Primoz 
 
Could you please describe who you are and what your role in both the projects SPARE and AlpES was:
 
I work as a project officer at the Joint Secretariat of Interreg Alpine Space and I am responsible for priority 3 - Liveable Alpine Space. As such I was charged to monitor both of this projects. I am educated as a geographer with a specialization in environmental science. But I am also an enthusiastic traveller who uses every opportunity to find a moment to enjoy nearby rivers, lakes, or the sea.  As such it is with great enthusiasm that I combined this passion with my professional life.
 
You followed both projects from the very beginning on. What was special in each of them?
 
Yes. Actually I met both lead partners on the first week of my new work, at the Kick-Off meeting organized in Munich. So, even while having to play different roles, it was a new experience for all of us, I guess. The first special thing was for sure that AlpES and SPARE were the two first projects I was following as a project officer. The second thing on my opinion was that both projects were a perfect combination of young and experienced professionel and a great mixture of administrative approach provided by institutions, professionally supported by experts and enthusiastic NGOs participating in the projects.
 
What were the main changes you observed in the three years the project lasted?
 
Several important outputs were developed (for example the GIS system mapping of Ecosystem services in the Alps and the Online platform for river managers and policy makers; just to mention two of them) that marked and started the processes that will hopefully continue in the next years.
 
What did you learn regarding the process?
 
Every project is different – each of them faces specific issues, has different problems and achieves different results. One thing to mention here is the importance of communication and cooperation in both SPARE and AlpES. Be it as a tool to achieve better results within the partnership but also to transfer these results to the wider public. Both projects demonstrated this – the final event jointly organized is just one proof of it. But the cooperation was also reflected between regions, among countries, pilot areas or with other networks; for example, with the Alpine Convection or EUSALP to which both projects actively contributed.
 
What did you learn regarding the content of the projects?
 
With the topic of river management, I was already familiar as I was professionally involved in this process in the past. Nevertheless, it was great to follow the SPARE project as I learned new things, especially about the importance of public participation when it comes to river management and also that we can/should have very different approaches depending on the context, country, history. Pilot areas demonstrated this and provided several good examples.
Ecosystem services is a topic that I was not so familiar with, so it was a great experience to learn from AlpES and the process itself- especially about the importance of awareness raising of this issue and how to tackle different target groups in order to make this  
 
What did you think of the final Event in Innsbruck?
 
It was very well organized and generally a great concept. The idea of joining two projects turned out very well. I had a chance to exchange thoughts with many participants and they all appreciated the joint event and the opportunity to gain knowledge and hear interesting stories from different perspectives.
 
Is there anything you would like to add?
 
I was happy to meet and work with so many great people and would like to thank and congratulate Alice, Caroline, Susanne, Renate, Kerstin, Martha, Robin and all the others who contribute to the great work done in the last years. I especially hope that process will not finish with the end of our projects and the real work will start now to make use of the results. How? By sharing the knowledge, you have gained, and using the outputs you produced in your professional environment and in your local area is the first step. Transferring these beyond the borders of your office, municipality, region, country, …not just today but even tomorrow, is our wish and common aim.
 
Schaan, Liechtenstein, on the 14th of December 2018.
Interview conducted by CIPRA International