In the mountains, the debate is open on a future without snow and without skiing

On September 23, 2021, Frédi Meignan and Alexandre Maulin checked each other out. This does not necessarily upset you, but in the columns of the Dauphiné released, it has been compared to the handshake between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat at the White House. M. Meignan took some pride in it, but the rest of the story did not escape him: “There, it didn’t necessarily go well. “

In front of the photographers, the habit made the monk. Frédi Meignan, t-shirt, fluorescent orange outdoor pants, wild hair: he heads the French branch of Mountain Wilderness, a mountain protection NGO. Alexandre Maulin, dark jacket with cream elbow patches, chic scarf, trimmed beard: president of Domaines skiables de France, which brings together ski lift operators.

Each would sleep more peacefully if the other did not exist. M. Maulin embodies the mountain planners and the downhill skiing industry, M. Meignan a more heterogeneous movement of defenders of its wild side. One builds cable cars to transport skiers, the other dismantles rusty ski lifts from resorts where skiing has disappeared. “These are not two worlds that ignored each other, since we find ourselves regularly in court anyway”, laughs Frédi Meignan. Hence the historical significance that was given, in the Alps, to this banal “check”, and to the event which gave rise to it: the States General of the transition of mountain tourism, bringing together activists, academics, elected officials and ski industry. A week later, Mr. Meignan participated in a round table at the Congress of Domaines skiables de France where, ” few years ago, [il aurait] caught eggs in the face ”.

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Something is happening in the realm of white gold. A line is open between the alpine ski industry and those who want to prepare for the extinction of this miraculous source. At the end of two days of discussions, relayed by workshops where, in each territory, elected representatives, associations and tourist operators met, a joint declaration was signed. Sufficiently vague to be shared by Mountain Wilderness activists and ski resort industry, but the promise of a sequel nonetheless.

Laurent Wauquiez, first supporter of the ski industry

Where does this relative warming come from? On the environmental awareness of ski manufacturers and their constructive state of mind, explains Alexandre Maulin. From the feeling of being a besieged citadel, corrects Frédi Meignan. According to him, the planners would have become aware of their fragility in the face of crises, of a cultural and societal change in the valleys, manifested by the push for the green vote in the large mountain metropolises. Environmentalists are in charge of the largest cities in the Alps – Grenoble, Annecy, even Lyon and Geneva, and associated with the socialists in Chambéry. The government’s “Avenir mountains” plan, very insistent on the transition, and the investment criteria of the Banque des Territoires and Crédit Agricole des Savoie, major financial partners in mountain tourism, also testify to a new outlook on the part of actors little suspected of ecological radicalism.

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