Naturefriends take transboundary action for Sustainable Development
Regional development initiative by Naturefriends promotes transboundary sustainable tourism, nature and environmental education and civil society in the region
Vienna/Basel, April 17 | At the opening ceremony on April 13 in Basel (Switzerland), Manfred Pils, president of Naturefriends International, proclaimed the Upper-Rhine valley "Landscape of the Year 2013/14" and presented the objectives of Naturefriends' transboundary regional development initiative.
Approximately 500 visitors from ten countries attended the opening event which was completed by a colourful tri-national programme in Basel. „By designating it as 'Landscape of the Year 2013/14', Naturefriends will raise awareness about sustainability in the Upper-Rhine valley. This encompasses preserving the living environment and recreational space, creating concepts for renewable energies and participating in the establishment of cross-border Sustainable Tourism" says Manfred Pils, president of Naturefriends International, in his opening address in Basel.
Raising awareness for our natural resources
„For the tri-national Upper Rhine Conference, the Landscape of the Year Upper-Rhine valley embodies our mandate and our duty to remember the opportunities we gain from our common living environment, economic area and culture − especially when it comes to Soft Tourism − but also the necessity of treating our natural resources respectfully" said Urs Wüthrich-Pelloli, president of the Upper Rhine Conference and governing councillor in Basel Country. "As its patron, the Upper Rhine Conference is glad to be able to provide its cross-border political network and expertise and thus contribute to the success of this forward-looking project" said Wüthrich-Pelloli in his opening address.
Naturefriends active together
Over the next two years, Naturefriends invite both the local population and local stakeholders as well as Naturefriends from all parts of Europe to attend a series of events in the Upper-Rhine valley. The range of activities will extend from environmental and nature education programmes via tri-national cycling and culture tours and a day of sporting events focused on bridges, to the laying out of several cross-border themed trails, to lectures about the energy transition and to a series of workshops designed to make people aware of their common history on the shores of the Rhine river. Pils holds that “what Naturefriends wish to achieve is to heighten awareness of cross-border links and a common identity in the Landscape of the Year. As members of a movement with a hundred-year tradition and commitment to voluntary work, we have always sought to be actively involved in the sustainable development of our environment and our societies and in translating international solidarity into practice. The Landscape of the Year doesn't only link Germany, France and Switzerland, but raises Europe-wide awareness for the region."
Landscapes of the Year – Bridges in Europe
Ever since 1989, Naturefriends, who number over 500,000 worldwide, have every two years singled out a cross-border, ecologically valuable European region for designation as Landscape of the Year. The idea is for Naturefriends to espouse the cause of Sustainable Development and cross-border exchange at each and every level within the Landscape of the Year. The project was awarded the UNWTO Ulysses Award for Excellence and Innovation in Tourism in 2012.
The “Landscape of the Year 2013/14 – the Upper-Rhine Valley” owes its designation to a regional development initiative of Naturefriends Germany (NFD), France (FFUTAN) and Switzerland (NFS), launched in cooperation with Naturefriends International (NFI) in its capacity as the movement’s umbrella organisation. It is placed under the patronage of the Upper Rhine Conference and the Swiss Federal President 2013, Federal councillor Ueli Maurer.
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