UNESCO World Heritage Site Swiss Alps


The Swiss Alps are home to the largest and longest glacier in western Eurasia: the Great Aletsch Glacier. Located in the southern part of Switzerland, the Aletsch region, together with the Jungfrau mountains, forms one of the most breathtakingly beautiful and scientifically interesting landscapes on earth. In recognition of its outstanding features, the Jungfrau-Aletsch region was designated as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 2001.

In addition to its geological importance, this highly glaciated segment of the Alps is also an integral part of Switzerland's cultural landscape. It thus provides a particularly useful model for the study of human adaptation to environmental extremes and climatic transition. The Swiss experience in coming to terms with a challenging natural environment is that of an ongoing effort to preserve a delicate balance between the interests of environmental conservation and those of human development. It offers an interesting point of departure for research exchange and partnership with developing and transition countries in the domain of sustainable development.







Jungfrau-Aletsch: A Lesson in Sustainable Regional Development
Using the example of the Jungfrau-Aletsch UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Swiss Alps, a German-language teacher’s kit has been created that illustrates the challenge of harmonising nature conservation interests and human development interests. Geared towards Swiss high school students, the kit's corresponding lessons enable young people to grasp the universal value of this Alpine region, the various perspectives of the surrounding communities and the demands of protecting a delicate mountain ecosystem.

Conceived and funded as a Partnership Action, the kit was collaboratively developed by the NCCR North-South, the Centre for Development and Environment (CDE), the Pädagogische Hochschule Bern, and the management centre of the Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Access the free kit (in German)



The interplay of economic issues with cultural values has long been a central factor in the development of the Swiss Alps, where agriculture, forestry, tourism and trade are the mainstays of local livelihoods. The extent to which Switzerland's experience in these areas may or may not be applicable to the challenges faced in developing and transition countries builds the main focus of NCCR North-South research in the Alps.

Nature Conservation and Stakeholder Participation


Research for Sustainable Development

Knowledge, Power, Politics: Evaluating Institutional and Social Practices in Sustainable Development and Syndrome Mitigation Research


Resources & Sustainability        

Andrea Aeberhard, An analysis of transdisciplinary co-production of knowledge in the development of organic farming in Switzerland (PhD)

Regional Coordination

Swiss Alps Regional Office
Karina Liechti (Regional Coordinator)
NCCR North-South
c/o Centre for Development and Environment
University of Bern
Hallerstrasse 10, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
Phone: +41 31 631 52 72 (secretariat)
Fax: +41 (31) 631 85 44
E-Mail: karina.liechti@cde.unibe.ch

Related content

Publications - Swiss Alps
Publications - Switzerland