The GIZ Open Regional Fund for South-East Europe – Biodiversity (ORF-BD) officially launched its Transboundary Ecosystem Management (TEM) project on March 27 in Tirana. It is financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
The event brought together the Albanian Minister of Environment, Lefter Koka, the Macedonian (FYR) Minister for Environment and Physical Planning, Bashkim Ahmeti and the Kosovar Minister for Environment and Physical Planning, Ferat Shala.
This high-level meeting served as an opportunity for an exchange of the Ministers, of ORF-BD partner countries, on necessary next steps to be taken towards the successful implementation of the trilateral joint vision referring to the protected transboundary area of the Sharr/Šar-Planina/Korab-Koritnik region, which was formalized in 2013. In his event speech, Minister Koka stressed the importance of regional cooperation for the success of the TEM project.
The highlight of the event was the reconfirmation of the willingness and strong commitment of the three ministries to actively take concrete measures for the implementation of transboundary management of the Sharr/Šar-Planina/Korab-Koritnik biodiversity hotspot.
The event highlighted the start of a new regional GIZ ORF-BD project covering Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia (FYR). Welcoming speech was given by the Albanian Deputy Minister of Environment, Kledi Xhaxhiu and the Deputy Ambassador of Germany in Albania, Anke Holstein.
The ORF-BD Sector Fund Manager, Gabriele Wagner used the opportunity to stress that “the main focus of the project is to establish cooperation structures at various levels and support replication of the successful local action group from Macedonia (FYR) in the other two countries. The aim is to build on the needs for joint planning and management of the biodiversity hotspot area for its sustainable development and extraction of benefits for local communities, among others also from tourism.” She further accented the complementarity of the TEM project with other bilateral nature conservation initiatives implemented in the countries targeting the same area, as well as the intent to build on lessons learned from the Prespa transboundary park.
Event participants included governmental delegations from the three primary beneficiary countries and from Montenegro. Further participants were representatives from international, regional, national and local level institutions, and organizations, including research institutes, academia, and civil society organizations involved in nature conservation and transboundary management.
The TEM project reiterates the importance of and builds on the regional cooperation of governmental actors at different levels, as well as the academia and civil-society organizations working together towards sustainable management of the area in question. It aims to foster synergies with other similar initiatives and networks like the European Green Belt Initiative, and the Dinaric Arc Initiative that started in 2004, and is inspired by experiences from the Europark Federation.
The project is implemented in partnership with IUCN, WWF, and Euronatur.