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Coping with decline: reflecting BESTAndermatt

A village in change, a responsive research studying the effects on all stakeholders: watch Caroline Näther weigh positive and negative reactions.

The study accompanying the long-term changes a new large-scale resort brings to the Swiss mountain village of Andermatt will be finalised in 2020. How do residents and political authorities gauge its impacts? The video elaborates the positive and negative aspects.

In a long-term and accompanying study like BESTandermatt, the research team continuously reflects processes and results. It is, however, equally important to analyse how stakeholders judge the ongoing study. How do the locals or representatives of cantonal and municipal authorities experience it? Where do they see its potentials; where do they find shortcomings?

The research team collected responses from the project steering group and the local advisory group. The researchers analysed statements and expectations during public information events and the result conference. Local actors and delegates of the government thus gave insights on what they considered to be the negative and the positive aspects of the study. This sheds light on the question of what transdisciplinary responsive research may achieve – and where it has its limitations.

The most important outcome of the study is the sensitisation and activation of the locals and their community, as the participatory, responsive approaches activates those involved to engage with each other. They jointly decide in what areas actions to be taken are necessary and contact municipal authorities and representatives of the investor, Andermatt Swiss Alps (ASA), to find viable solutions to improve a situation. Thus, the study has a direct impact on the local population, authorities, and the investor ASA. The experiences from BESTandermatt demonstrate that the local public can self-confidently stand up to external changes and the tourism resort. Self-confident engagement with tourism development means that the public has an awareness of tourism, along with a broad perception of tourism with all its advantages and disadvantages. This favours the residents’ willingness to influence the development of the community and the resort in the future.

The current situation includes further challenges. The first one concerns how research and the resort development correlate in their time frames. The investor originally intended to complete the resort in 2020. However, now it is clear that the development will take much longer. As the study was designed with the resort’s first deadline in mind, it will be finalised in 2020. What should happen after that? It is still necessary to research and monitor the impact the resort has on the social structure and socio-cultural life in Andermatt.

The second challenge concerns the local advisory group. It served as a link enabling communication between the company ASA, the municipal authorities and the residents. What organisational form would allow the members of the advisory group to keep fulfilling this task?

As you watch the video, think of all these challenges. We look forward to reading your comments!

Educator: Caroline Näther

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Partnering for Change: Link Research to Societal Challenges

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