ABSTRACT: A process of urbanization has developed around the alpine ski resorts and the Natural Protected Areas (NPA). There are also processes of abandonment of settlement populations and mountain cultures by the disappearance of traditional economic activities. This entails a contradiction: the natural features of a territory can facilitate naturbanization, but it can also deteriorate the natural and socioeconomic environment of the territory. Local development, in the mountainous areas of Europe, can be explained by the existence of comparative advantages with regard to urban areas. In the Catalan Pyrenees, the theory of comparative advantage and the use of the territorial embeddedness theory enable us to demonstrate that, in the future, this short term analysis will have to be replaced by longer term analyses that also take into account environmental, social and cultural externalities.