Deception at 4,061 m asl

For years now, we have been preparing to celebrate the 1st century of Italy’s oldest national park.  “The Aosta Valley, and in particular the Gran Paradiso area, will celebrate in 2022 the concomitance of two anniversaries with a strong symbolic value: the 100th anniversary of the institution of the Gran Paradiso National Park and the 25th edition of the Gran Paradiso Film Festival (…). On 11 July, the festival will officially open in the presence of HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco as well as of the main regional authorities.

25 Gran Paradiso Film Festival

On this occasion, the Gran Paradiso Charter will be presented, to affirm the principles of sustainable development and nature conservation that underpin the institutional and friendly relations between the Aosta Valley Autonomous Region and the Principality of Monaco. The Charter will then be symbolically carried to the Gran Paradiso summit at 4,061 m asl and disseminated online to all those who wish to sign it, sharing their concrete commitment to a more sustainable world”, reads the website of said film festival.

So far, so good, were it not that the charter, after a long introduction listing salient dates and events of environmental, climate as well as biodiversity protection, proposes the Gran Paradiso area as “a source of inspiration to trigger good practices to mitigate the negative impacts produced by man on the environment, through the actions of institutions and citizens, in order to generate a positive impact on the environment in which we live” and invites citizens to sign it and by doing so to declare their “commitment to adopt behaviours and actions in line with the 2030 Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals“.

Now, we are well aware that the 2030 Agenda has already been signed by Italy, along with 192 other nations, including the Principality of Monaco, and that “The goals set for sustainable development have global validity, they concern and involve all countries and components of society, from private companies to the public sector, from civil society to information and cultural operators”, as the website of the Italian Agency for Territorial Cohesion states. Therefore, inviting a state, a sub-national entity and citizens to sign the charter does not go beyond a mere symbolic meaning.

But let us return to the inspirational mountain and the charter symbolically carried to the summit in order to propose the Gran Paradiso area as a model “to trigger good practices to mitigate the negative impacts produced by man on the environment”.

Gran Paradiso Film Festival in media

The first suspicions about the roped party arise when seeing the pictures of the ascent in which H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco participated. The suspicions are then confirmed by a comment – now hidden by the account administrators – that appeared at the bottom of the post, a comment that reads as follows: “I wonder if the common values are an increase in kerosene pollution, for a tourist flight, which allowed the prince (…) to reach the shoulder of the mountain called ‘back of the donkey’ (…) pretending he was climbing from the valley floor on foot without polluting. (…) I wonder what powers have led the regional government (…) to allow the activation of rescue reserve helicopter Sierra Alfa 3, to transport personalities for the purpose of a tourist trip at the expense of Aosta Valley taxpayers. I am even more ashamed of the fact that the park authority (…) has endorsed an unnecessary and potentially damaging overflight for the fauna (in this period, parts of the ibex population are already suffering due to hot weather) despite the reasoned negative opinions expressed by the Surveillance Corps” (Giovanni Bracotto)*

Now, in view of the ban on tourist flights in the protected area, added to the pollutant and noise emissions generated, we ask the organising bodies, who are widely advertising the environmental sustainability of the film event and the charter: was there really any need to transport this roped party, in which we distinctly recognise H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco, via helicopter to the top of the mountain, just to take a few pictures and make headlines?

Do you really think that these flights, kept hidden from citizens, can really “become a source of inspiration to trigger good practices to mitigate the negative impacts produced by man on the environment”? Rather, it seems to us that the message conveyed is exactly the opposite of the advertised intent, and leaves the bitter aftertaste of a deception, a high-altitude deception.

What will citizens, invited to be inspired by the good example of the Gran Paradiso area, think of this?

* Head of the Rhemes Valley Service of the Park’s Surveillance Corps