A comprehensive three-year conservation programme for the Dinaric Arc launched by IUCN

07 May 2009 | News story

Sustaining Rural Communities and Their Traditional Landscapes Through Strengthened Environmental Governance in Transboundary Protected Areas of the Dinaric Arc – the Western Balkans Programme - begins now.

In May 2008, at the 9th Convention on Biological Diversity  Conference of the Parties in Bonn, six countries of the Dinaric Arc Ecoregion joined forces to protect their rich natural and cultural heritage by signing an inter-governmental commitment called the “Big Win“ Joint Statement for the Dinaric Arc. The countries include Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro and Serbia. This high-level commitment originates in the recognition that the natural and cultural wealth of the Dinaric region is a critical asset on which social and economic development can be based, and also in the awareness that protecting and maintaining it can only be achieved through close cooperation among the Dinaric Arc countries.

Tamas Marghescu, Regional Director for Pan Europe and Permanent Representative to the EU. Having been present at the signature of the Dinaric Arc Initiative by the Ministers of 6 countries of South Eastern Europe in Bonn last year, I was asked to deliver a note on behalf of IUCN. I started and ended my speech by saying that I was speechless, emotionally unable to add anything more to what  I was witnessing. Nations, not so long ago at war with each other were engaging in a joint initiative, where nature was demonstrating once more its capacity of green diplomacy.

IUCN has partnered with SNV Netherlands Development Organisation and the WWF Mediterranean Programme Office in developing the Western Balkans Programme. This three-year cooperation programme, generously supported by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, is designed to take full advantage of the current opportunity and desire to improve transboundary environmental conservation and governance in the Dinaric Arc.

The programme’s goal is to promote sustainable development of rural communities through the conservation of biodiversity and traditional landscapes in transboundary areas of the Dinaric Arc and the strengthening of regional cooperation and environmental governance. Specific programme objectives include supporting transboundary collaboration initiatives agreed to in the “Big Win“ Joint Statement; strengthening transboundary environmental management and governance capacity of governments and other stakeholders at the regional and local levels; demonstrating sustainable development options for rural communities in the key transboundary areas highlighted in the Big Win for Dinaric Arc commitments; and, transfering lessons learned to other locations in Dinaric Arc countries and beyond.

The programme is aimed to increase transboundary dialogue through stakeholder participation and the integration of the activities of the programme’s workplan into broader European frameworks for nature conservation. Key policy and action frameworks, such as the European Green Belt, Countdown 2010 and Natura 2000, will be introduced to local and regional stakeholders as tools for achieving environmental and sustainable development objectives in the Dinaric Arc region.

Paul Grigoriev, Regional Programme Co-ordinator: This exciting and timely programme will make a major contribution to safeguarding the region’s rich and diverse natural and cultural heritage, upon which sustainable development options for rural communities can be based. It will also advance the implementation of the CBD Programme of Work on Protected Areas at the regional level.

The programme will undertake a broad range of actions at different levels, integrating the various layers of work so as to facilitate and support the realization of the commitment expressed by the Governments of the Dinaric Arc through the “Big Win” Joint Statement.

The Dinaric Arc Initiative:
IUCN, WWF, UNESCO-BRESCE, UNDP, UNEP, the Council of Europe, FAO, Euronatur, SNV, REC and ECNC, are concerned with the future of the Dinaric Arc and are active in the region with a varied portfolio of projects and initiatives to secure the long-term conservation and sustainable development of this part of Europe. These institutions have joined forces and created the Dinaric Arc Initiative (DAI).

The Dinaric Arc is a region of south-eastern Europe with a surface of approximately 100,000 km2 and more than 6,000 km of coastline, encompassing the whole region facing the eastern Adriatic Sea, from the area of Trieste (Italy) to Tirana (Albania). It includes portions of Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, FYR Macedonia, and Albania.