A battle is brewing around ‘Europe’s rooftop’ over the planet’s most precious resource.
Bountiful for centuries, the crystal-clear waters issuing from the Alps could become increasingly contested as climate change and glacier melt affect the lives of tens of millions in the coming years.
Italy wants them for crop irrigation in the spring and summer. Swiss authorities want to hold up flows to ensure their hydroelectric plants can rev up when needed. For the first time in four years, after a pandemic lull, government envoys from eight Alpine countries are today meeting to discuss their water issues.
Under the Alpine Convention, a group set up 30 years ago to help coordinate life, leisure’s and the mountains’ limited resources, the nations are meeting in the southern Swiss town of Brig. The countries, ranging from pint-sized principality Monaco and small Slovenia to powerhouses like France, Germany and Italy, have focused much attention on what’s known as the “Simplon Alliance.”
Named after an Alpine pass between Italy and Switzerland, it aims to make transportation more eco-friendly, including by favouring rail over roads, and public transport over private cars in the mountains.

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