YPAC 2013

March 11th – 15th in Sonthofen/D

General topic: My Alpine Town of the Future

Subtopics (allocated to four committees)

Committee 1: Consumer Behaviour

The consumption of products and services has social, cultural and ecological implications. The intention of sustainable consumption is to avoid these problems. Consumption is an expression of social developments and individual behaviour. Children, young people and the elderly thus consume different things in different ways.

KEY QUESTIONS: What must a city do to serve as a model for others as a service provider, investor and consumer? What must a city offer its citizens so that they become sustainable consumers?

Committee 2: Living and Working

Some two thirds of the people living in the Alps today reside in cities or conurbations. Cities are places to live and work and also offer rural areas services such as education, medical care and culture. Cities interact with their surroundings, with dynamic suburbs, nearby dormitory villages and remote side valleys from which people tend to migrate.

KEY QUESTIONS: Which services and infrastructure are required for a good quality of life in a city? What can a city do to make the life of its inhabitants attractive while simultaneously protecting resources? How can a city create jobs and services for residents and the surrounding areas that are socially, ecologically and economically sustainable? What must a city do to ensure a fair relationship with its surroundings?

Committee 3: Tourism and Leisure

The Alps are one of the world’s largest tourist areas: Each year some 120 million people visit the Alps and there are approximately 6.6 million tourist beds. For around half the municipalities, such as the cities of Chamonix, Annecy, Bozen/Bolzano, Innsbruck and Lugano, tourism is an important economic factor. Alpine cities create offers for tourists and work together with tourist localities (e.g. ski resorts). They also provide their own citizens with the infrastructure and resources for leisure activities.

KEY QUESTIONS: What can a city do to create a sustainable leisure offer? What would the tourism concept of a city look like in order to preserve the beauty of the Alps and offer a livelihood to people? What must a city offer young people so that they can also use their spare time sustainably?

Committee 4: Mobility

Traffic is one of the most important drivers of climate change: It is the cause of around one third of all greenhouse gases. The proportion of journeys made by car in the Alps is higher than the European average. Mobility very strongly affects our lifestyle habits. There are three forms of traffic in cities: Commuter traffic, originating/terminating traffic (one feature of the Alpine space is that leisure activities and tourism produce a lot of traffic), as well as mobility within the city itself.

KEY QUESTIONS: What must a city do in order to direct public transport, pedestrian and bicycle traffic and motorised individual forms of transport as part of a sustainable traffic policy? What sort of financial and urban planning measures, prohibitions and incentives must a city introduce so that its citizens (can) change their lifestyle habits and nevertheless remain mobile?


The folio group was introduced in 2012 for the first time. The participants in this group learnt how to write a creative text on the topic in some creative workshops. The Folio of the YPAC 2013 was printed as a supplement to the annual report of the "Alpine town of the year association".

On the first day of the YPAC, the members of the folio group were asked to write a letter to a person from a different continent and/or cultural background, like African, Chinese or Inuit. In the letter they were to tell those people about their Alpine town and its future.


PDF-Downloads of the Folio






Here you can read some of the letters from the Folio in English:

'Dear Song Chu' by Patrick Tobler

Dear Song Chu,

You look smart in this picture. With your glasses and wrinkles on the forehead and around your eyes. And the nice white shirt of course. You know where you are and you know that you are their support. They depend on you. If you leave, they fall apart. Or they fall on the ones who are left over. You have the responsibility to neither let them fall nor to leave them. You are the base that everybody relies on.

I am in a room with some others now. Nobody supports anybody. I can leave if I want to. Yet I don’t leave because I don’t want to. Because we want to change the world for the better. We want to solve problems which concern our home towns. We want to lead other towns with our example. We want a better world.

We support and want to be supported. It is not obvious but it is the truth. We take the decision to support the world we live in with everything we do.

Do you know bio products? We buy them. We eat them. We do so to avoid the poisoning of our environment. We support all farmers and markets who sell organic or bio products. Not because we have to but because we want to. We want a better world. A healthier world. A world worth living.

We will talk to politicians. To make them help us to change the world for the better. To maybe subsidize local bio farmers. To have more bio famers is a good thing. Do you know what ground water is? It is the water we drink. If there are more bio farmers, the ground water will be less polluted with chemicals. If the poison, which is used to kill insects in the fields, gets into the water, we get sick. We may not die because of this. But we live in dependency on things which need to make us healthy again. We will need to rely on them. This is expensive. We pay for it. It is like you would force your friends to be supported by you and still demand money from them. But this is something you don’t want. Don’t you want him to stand by himself and only rely on you if he wants and needs to do so?

With love and appreciation,


'Dear Mrs Mpe-Nke' by Pietro Baggio

Dear Mrs Mpe-Nke,

I heard that they’re going to demolish your village. Such a pity! I can still vividly remember the few days I spent there: all the blue-painted houses, the tall imposing trees forming a ring around the clearing, as a sort of monumental reminder of the sacredness of your village, cut out from the world of economic growth and contradictions. An Eden. They said they want to build a big motorway and you happen to be in the way. A shame. It’s quite difficult for me to understand how you must feel. I mean, you’ve been living, so far, in exactly the same place where your grandparents and your grandparents’ parents were born. Untouched by time. Now it all crumbles away.

Where I live, everything is so startlingly different! We’re rushing ahead, growing, building up, destroying and recreating. You would be very confused to live here, where in a year’s time houses that you’ve always seen can suddenly be replaced by a leisure centre. To be honest, I think we’re a bit confused, too.

There’s just one thing we’re really certain about: there’s no time to wait. If you lag behind, you’re lost. You have to stride on, otherwise the entire world will just leave you behind, helpless and very perplexed. Just strut on! When it comes to deciding where you should run, well... that is a completely different kettle of fish!

We know that if we just let ourselves go on like this, we’ll find ourselves in so contradictory a situation that the buildings of our cities will just fall down like those magnificent trees that now still surround and embrace your village. We move furiously – unable to stop, for sure – and are now facing the necessity to harness this movement if we want to get anything good from it, like a giant dam can harness the powerful flow of a mighty river to set a turbine in motion. Or like your herd when they’re attacked by the hyenas. If the herdsman is not able to direct them towards the stables where they’re safely guarded, your antelopes just disperse, running at full pelt, and get lost in the wild. Those poor creatures are not used to it! I remember that when I was there you found a carcass of one of them, its flesh torn apart as it fell into a precipice. An awful sight that was!

Anyway, as I was saying, our cities are not very good at running. That’s why we have to guard them so that they don’t stumble and fall into a ravine. And in the Alps we have so many cliffs and steep slopes where they could fall... Pollution, for instance. I know this must be quite complicated for you, but I’ll try to explain. When you run madly around like your antelopes – I told you, I don’t really know why we do it, we just know we have to, I guess – we don’t run on foot: we use cars... lots of them, hundreds, even thousands of them. You will see cars as soon as your village is wiped out. Then you will notice that they give off a sort of dark misty air, like smoke. We call it smog, and I can assure you that that thing makes the slopes of the Alps even more slippery, so that it gets easier and easier to fall from the cliffs. And once you’ve lost your balance, there’s little to cling to, you just tumble down.

But anyway, how could you possibly understand this? I hope you won’t, ever, because it’s frightfully complicated.

I heard they’ll try to find you some space in a small village nearby. You shouldn’t feel homesick there. I just wonder how long it’ll take before…

Anyway, this letter is getting really long, and I know your English is not great. So I’ll just stop straightaway.

Wish you all the best.



'Dear Father Christmas' by Pietro Baggio

Dear Father Christmas

Mummy told me that when you drove over the city yesterday, your lovely Lappish reindeers started coughing their guts out, so violently that your sledge was all rocking threateningly and some presents –my presents- fell down and you couldn’t find them anymore because it was all so smoky. You must have been frightened to death! I cried all morning when I didn’t find my boxes filled with beautiful toys, packed with patterned red and gold paper and with silver ribbons, like last Christmas. I won’t have much to play with this year, because almost all my old toys are broken now.
I hope your reindeers have fully recovered by now. You should try a gas mask next year, because I’d really like to have my presents then, at least. But perhaps you didn’t come to me because you were angry about my naughtiness. Maybe I could try and do something myself so that there won’t be so much smoke hanging over the whole planet next Christmas. I hate it, it makes me feel as if I’m being crushed down to the ground. Maybe if that smoke fades away, some fish will also reappear in the seas and you could buy me a small aquarium with some goldfish and a lot of seaweed (Please...!). I love seaweed. In the meantime, I’ll do something to help your poor reindeers. I promise I’ll behave better.
Mum says I should use public buses when I go to school. When she insisted for the first time I started kicking up a fuss. I don’t like to be crammed there, standing up, with all the other children making so much noise and no privacy. It’s much more comfortable to drive to school by car, where I can lie in the back seats and rest until I reach it. But I think I’ll make a sacrifice. I don’t want your reindeers to cough their lives away. I will also try to separate my waste. Mum says it’s important to put plastic objects in one bag, paper objects in another bin and so on... I think it’s so annoying and boring when you could just throw everything into the same rubbish bin. I don’t understand... Why should I be bothered? But, if it is really so important, I’ll try hard to do my best!
I wish I’d seen the consequences of my bad behaviour before. I would’ve had my presents. You must be disappointed, if not angry! Mum says I always have to be punished in some way before I realise that I’ve been doing something wrong, even if I’ve been told many many times not to do it.
I always like to shower for over half an hour and stand relaxing under the showerhead, while hot water is flowing out and nicely warming my body. Mum says that it is a waste of water and I won’t see any presents if I go on like this. I’ll stop. But, still, it was so comfortable!
And I’ll do many other things, everything you ask: I’ll also go to my mayor and I promise I will ask her to tell all my neighbors how important it is that they behave like I will, from now on. And I know my neighbors don’t like me and will try to keep their lights always on and to waste energy so that I won’t get my presents. Bad people, they are, they hate my family. But I’ll tell my mayor about this and I’ll beg her to do something to help me and make them change their minds. It’s not fair that they can so easily make my efforts become useless. But it’s the mayor’s job to do something about it.
I shall do all this, Father Christmas, because I believe that you exist, not like some nasty friends of mine, who say that you’re just a sham.
I’m certain that you and your reindeers exist and I promise I will make you fly again up above, in the sky. Even though mum says I won’t see you again.

Yours, Hansel

'Dear Xavier' by Tobias Venzo

Dear Xavier,

I just received the picture you sent me in the mail.

I am extremely pleased to see that you were able to buy an entire house for you and your family! It appears that my little investment in your bakery was worth it. And if I might add, that is a mighty fine hat you got there!

I find it admirable that a small local business can flourish so prominently without fearing to be outdone by any multinational enterprises.

Small local private businesses stand barely any chance here in Meran. The product range and the low prices offered by the big companies are simply inimitable for any small enterprise because wages and rents as well as the production costs are far too high to provide a similar offer. This disparity of quantity and price cannot even be outdone by the far superior quality of small business products. And since the consumer behaviour is mainly dictated by price and not quality anyways, it is clear that those small entrepreneurs are struggling for their survival.

There are measures that need to be taken if we want to keep our local economic cycle flowing perpetually nourishing and sustaining itself whilst limiting and avoiding unnecessary losses to foreign markets. The city of Meran should introduce a restrictive law that regulates the amount and the type of big companies operating within town. Furthermore the rents for the infrastructure needed to conduct a business should be lowered for local enterprises in order to help and promote the establishment of a base of small and medium sized businesses. And ultimately, to which the city itself cannot contribute directly, there is a drastic need for a change of mentality. People have to comprehend that paying slightly increased prices in local stores does not mean to spend more, but to invest more. It means to invest more in our own economy and not to stuff penny after penny into the pockets of some multinational business tycoon just in order to save a quarter…

Xavier, a superficial glance at my country may give you the impression that we are far ahead of you, yet if you look close enough my friend; you will see that there is a lot we can learn from a county like yours.

Kind regards,


Folio group of Sonthofen 2013


Press Release

Press release / Medienmitteilung 15/03/13 (de) (PDF)

Press Coverage


YPAC's Flying Facts

Flying Facts – Tuesday (PDF)

Flying Facts – Thursday (PDF)


Media Group Videos

YPAC 2013 Review: The YPAC in approximately 1 minute (YouTube)

Group activity on the first day: Our Alpine Town of the Future' (YouTube)