Ticino and the Swiss mountain regions: today's risks and those of the future

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Institutional Communication Service

3 July 2024

The recent catastrophic events in Moesano, Vallemaggia, and Canton Valais have led to discussions about the current and future of human settlements in Ticino and Swiss mountain areas. Luigi Lorenzetti, adjunct professor at the Academy of Architecture of Università della Svizzera italiana and coordinator of the Laboratory of Alpine History, addresses this issue in a detailed interview published in the pages of Corriere del Ticino.

Before examining the present and looking ahead to the future, Luigi Lorenzetti first focuses on past events. He recalls the various catastrophic events from the 17th century to the beginning of the 2000s that have characterised and, in some way, shaped these regions, afflicted, precisely, in a cyclical manner by these phenomena. "In the face of these events," stresses the Academy of Architecture professor, "over time, mountain populations have been able to develop a real risk culture based on historical memory, identifying dangerous areas and adopting effective settlement strategies. This culture has significantly mitigated risks, although zero risk in the mountains is unachievable."

Continuing his remarks, Lorenzetti then highlights the dual social value of mountains: a place from which people left because of poverty and the lack of connections, but also a place of refuge and protection, as seen, for example, during the pandemic. In today's world, mountains are once again seen as dangerous due to climate change, which poses the risk of people having to relocate from high-risk areas. To tackle this issue, Lorenzetti recommends implementing policies to reduce CO2 emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change. In addition, short-term interventions like improving prevention systems and managing risk factors more effectively could also help address the problem. "The current significant threat is the failure to implement measures that enable people to continue living in the Alpine valleys and to prevent negative consequences for the lowland areas."

The full interview by Dario Campione in the pages of Corriere del Ticino is available in the attached PDF (Italian only).

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