Open Regional Fund for South-East Europe – Biodiversity (ORF-BD)


September 4, 2017






September 4, 2017






The Open Regional Fund for South-East Europe – Biodiversity (ORF-BD) has been established on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) as the main commissioning party of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). As a provider of international cooperation services for sustainable development, GIZ is dedicated to building a future worth living around the world.

The main objective of the ORF-BD is increased regional cooperation in South-East Europe. In this regard, support for the implementation of the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2020 in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia (FYR) and Kosovo* plays a key role. Within the ORF-BD, Croatia acts as a mentor country.

Accession to the European Union (EU) is a common goal of the ORF-Biodiversity partner countries of South-East Europe. The German Government has been supporting this process for many years.

Photo 1: Amanita-Muscaria by Jelena-Perunicic from GIZ-ORD-Biodiversity

The implementation of the complex and inter-sectoral European environmental law, in particular, puts cooperation countries before great challenges.

Core elements of the European environmental law referring to biodiversity are the Birds Directive and the Fauna-Flora-Habitat Directive, as well as the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2020.


South-East Europe (SEE) is extraordinarily rich in terms of biodiversity. The region harbours a wide range of ecosystems and endemic species. Biodiversity in SEE, as elsewhere in the world, is not confined to country borders, and the conservation, including sustainable use of biodiversity requires an integrated and mostly transboundary or regional approach. However, biodiversity (species, ecosystems and genes) in the region is largely endangered, mainly due to other development priorities, lack of knowledge of biodiversity and the ecosystem services value, weak technical and financial capacity of relevant institutions and uncontrolled, and unmanaged human interventions aggravated by increasingly noticeable climate change impacts.

Photo 2: Velebit mountain in Croatia, photo by Petra Boić Petrac from WWF

The ORF-BD aims to enable all institutions responsible for environment and biodiversity in SEE, including all relevant organizations active in these fields in the region, to increasingly use regional cooperation for implementation of the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2020.

The following three outcomes are crucial for the achievement of the project aim:

  1. Raised awareness of relevant actors in the region regarding the economic value of biodiversity and ecosystem services;
  2. Improved skills of regional network partners regarding biodiversity reporting and information management; and
  3. Enhancing trans-border protected area and ecosystem management measures.

ORF-BD is committed to an integrated and inclusive approach with a strong involvement of the governmental structures, international organizations, the civil society and private sector companies who care for biodiversity, and carefully mainstream social and economic development perspectives into their work.


The Open Regional Fund for South-East Europe – Biodiversity cooperates closely with existing regional initiatives and networks, and supports partnership formation aimed at the achievement of important intended effects and increased sustainability of results. This is done through the implementation of regional projects involving participation of organizations from at least three countries of South-East Europe. The current ORF-BD portfolio encompasses four projects:

  • Regional Network of Biodiversity Related Civil Society Organizations (BiONET) ensures that regional cooperation capacities of civil society organizations, working in the field of biodiversity, are strengthened. The aim is to increase CSOs’ contribution to the implementation of the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2020 and the Strategic Plan of the Convention on Biological Diversity 2011-2020.
  • Biodiversity Information Management and Reporting (BIMR) focuses on strengthening the capacities of partner institutions, which are needed for meeting the requirements evident under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and EU-Biodiversity Strategy.
  • Ecosystem Services Assessment and Valuation (ESAV) aims to develop regional recommendations and instruments for inter-sectoral recognition, valuation and sustainable management of ecosystem services. Assuring strategic and operational partnerships through cooperation concepts and agreements with global and regional related initiatives, including GIZ Global Project ValuES, IUCN ECARO, WWF Adria and others, it intends to achieve real change in policy development and decision-making, impacting the way ecosystems and their services are perceived, managed and used.
  • Transboundary Ecosystem Management (TEM) aims to ensure viable conditions for the introduction of transboundary ecosystem management in the Sharr / Šar Planina – Korab – Koritnik region.

Photo 3: National park Durmitor in Montenegro by Jelena Peruničić from GIZ ORD Biodiversity


Aiming to promote regional cooperation of biodiversity-related organizations, ORF-BD joined forces with environmental ministries and agencies, including those ministries that directly, to greater or lesser extent, have an impact on biodiversity and ecosystems. Collaboration also includes ministries responsible for forestry and agriculture. Further partners include municipal administrations, academic institutions and research institutes, as well as non-governmental environmental organizations.

Partnerships with key regional actors and donors have been established. These, among many, include UNEP, UNDP, IUCN , WWF, CEPF, REC, etc.



 Establishing BD related regional cooperation mechanisms and capacity building:

  • First BD regional NGO network formed (7 countries, 14 members)
  • Regional Biodiversity Task Force initiated (7 countries, IUCN Secretariat) – linked to Regional Cooperation Council’s Regional Working Group on Environment
  • BIMR platform established (7 countries, 20 members)
  • Parliamentarian groups and committees in the region connected – goal is to raise awareness and knowledge on biodiversity and ecosystem services
  • Networking of biodiversity experts supported through various activities
  • Provision of substantial support to the emerging nature conservation network (BalkaNatureNet)

Promoting inclusion of BD in regional sector policy processes (including ongoing processes):

  • Regional policy recommendations for Ministries of Environment (Podgorica Declaration 2016)
  • Regional Assessment for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services for Europe and Central Asia by Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES 2017-2018)
  • Regional pilot ecosystem service case studies in cross-border areas (2017-2018)
  • Implementation support to joint vision of biodiversity hotspot Sharr Mountain Transboundary Ecosystem level covering Albania, Kosovo* and FYR Macedonia (2017 – 2018)

Provision of data and information on BD sector:

  • Baseline assessment on BioNET NGO capacity (2016)
  • Baseline assessment on academia engagement in nature conservation (2016)
  • Baseline assessment of BIMR in 6 countries underpinning regional guidelines for improved systems including gender aspects (2016-2017)
* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244/99 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.
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