Workshop on the Lake Skadar International Designation for Territorial Development

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Lakeside diplomacy

The event was unique; a small milestone for the environment. Two leaders ­- the freshly elected Prime Minister of Albania, Sali Berisha, and Prime Minister of soon-to-be independent Montenegro, Milo Dukanovic, met for the first time in October 2005. The subject of discussion was how to protect Lake Skadar, the biggest enclosed body of water in the Balkans, and one that both countries share.

With its majestic blue waters, the lake is home to a variety of fish and 270 species of birds, including pelicans, cormorants, herons, water bulls, and black ibises. Skadar is the biggest bird reservation in Europe and is a prime destination for tourists. But it needs to be protected, especially considering an aluminum plant operates nearby and untreated waste seeps into its waters.

For the first time the two governments have come together to address how to deal with these environmental issues and establish greater cooperation between the two governments in order to improve joint management of the lake.

After the meeting, change ensued. Albania, which has jurisdiction over one-third of the lake, succeeded in getting its side recognized as a Ramsar site, which makes the lake an international point of attention for conservation measures. Montenegro had lobbied and earned this distinction for its side already in 1995.

"The purpose of the meeting was for the two countries to start a discussion on how to better protect the resources and diversity of the lake", said Predrag Dakovic, project manager for UNDP Montenegro. The meeting brought together not just the central government but also local administrations and non-governmental organizations.

As a result of the meeting, the two governments resolved to establish a committee to deal with Lake Skadar's environmental challenges. The Office for Sustainable Development, which belongs to the cabinet of the Montenegrin Prime Minister, was created with the assistance of UNDP. Two donor conferences also took place on the Montenegrin side in June and October of this year. Further meetings are expected.

Context

Workshop on the Lake Skadar International Designation for Territorial Development

Focus Areas

Geographic Scope

Albania, Montenegro, Skadar Lake

Stakeholders

As a part of the Dinaric Arc Initiative (DAI) besides the other DAI partners UNDP was in charge of organizing the workshop in the Scadar Lake

UNDP Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Albania, UNDP Regional Bureau in Bratislava, UNESCO-ROSTE, WWF, IUCN, Council of Europe, UNDP

Contacts

Predrag Dakovic, Project manager, UNDP Montenegro


Contents

Background and Significance

International Meeting on Lake Scadar is the first event in Montenegro, organized as part of the DAI - regional »Dinaric Arc Initiative« developed and launched by the group of international organizations working in the region: WWF, UNESCO-ROSTE (Regional Bureau for Science in Europe); World Conservation Union – IUCN; UNDP and Council of Europe.

Water basins and wetlands, because of their high productivity and biological diversity, have always attracted human intention. Their importance for agriculture, grazing, fisheries, water supply, river and sea transport have meant that they were often the focus of human activities and in many places (eg. Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Indus) acted as cradles of human social organization and cultural development. Over the last thirty years, several international bodies have established legal, administrative and management frameworks (eg. World Heritage, Ramsar, Man and Biosphere, EU Special Protected Areas, Sites of Mediterranean Importance), originally designed to conserve biodiversity, though of late greater weight has been given to the social and cultural dimensions of these territories. Skadar/Shkodra Lake is a site of high relevance for all these aspects with transboundary connotations; conversely, the status of its protection is not yet fully defined, resulting into an unbalanced territorial development.

Goal and Objectives

The goals and objectives of the event primarily promoted by the current DAI partners - were to highlight the importance of defining a clear and comprehensive territorial development plan for the entire lake area, with corresponding appropriate designation status. Within the same event framework, a specific working meeting for the DAI partners was organised to foster the existing cooperation and further extend it to other relevant stakeholders.

Lastly, an IUCN organised 3-days training session devoted to capacity building, networking and communication for NGOs from the SEE region.



The Experience: Challenges and Solutions

WHAT

Goal of the meeting on cross-border vision of the Lake Scadar, which represents shared wealth and potential of Montenegro and Albania, Prime Ministers of the two Republics expressed their views of the cooperation and pointed out the most important coordinates for the joint plan of action for the sustainable management of the Lake and its natural resources.

WHO

Main organizer of the event was The Dinaric Arc Initiative (DAI) that has been created and launched by WWF, UNESCO/ROSTE, UNDP, IUCN, and Council of Europe with the goal of ensuring long term conservation and sustainable development of this part of Europe.

Main local stakeholders which were present at the workshop are as following:

Prime Minister of Montenegro

Prime Minister of Albania

Ministry of Foreign Affairs- Montenegro

Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning -Montenegro

Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Albania

Ministry of Environment - Albania

Mayor: Municipality of Podgorica

Mayor: Municipality of Bar

Mayor: Municipality of Cetinje

National Park Skadarsko Jezero

National Parks of Montenegro

Institute for nature protection, Montenegro

The Natural Museum, Montenegro

EULIMNOS coordinator for Montenegro

Office for Sustainable Development

KAP – Aluminum Plant Podgorica

Plantaze – wine producers

and other relevant NGOs and stakeholders

WHERE

Lake Skadar lies in the south-eastern part of the central region of Montenegro, occupying the bordering area between Montenegro and Albania. Together with the River Bojana, the Lake represents a typical example of bilateral bordering waters, between Montenegro and Albania. Concerning the legal framework, both international and national laws govern these waters, whereas it is the international law that has prevalence.

Striving to protect exceptional natural values and beauties of Lake Skadar due to its biological, scientific, cultural, health, tourist and recreational significance, the Republic of Montenegro declared in 1983, in the part of its territory, the Lake and its immediate surrounding, to be a national park. The National Park of Lake Skadar stretches over a territory of 40,000 ha, where some 25,400 ha are water surfaces – free waters and floating vegetation, and 14,600 ha fringe land and marshes, within the confines of three municipalities: Podgorica, Cetinje and Bar.

It happened that some 12 years after having been awarded the status of a national park in December 1995, a part of the Lake Skadar that belongs to Montenegro entered the List of Wetlands of International Importance, as a habitat of swamp birds, in conformity with the provisions of the Ramsar Convention. Cultural and historical heritage of the Lake Skadar basin encompasses an astonishing variety of buildings and sites from different historical periods. The Republic of Montenegro, bound by a special status awarded to the territory of Lake Skadar, has identified its priorities in that respect: preservation of natural characteristics of the Lake and conservation of its built heritage, controlled and prudent exploitation of natural resources and harmonized and sustainable development.

WHEN

Workshop on the Lake Skadar International Designation for Territorial Development took place in Vranjina, Montenegro on 18th of October 2006 and in Shkodra, Albania on 19th of October 2006. Following the workshop there was a 3 day workshop for NGOs in Shkodra, Albania.

HOW

The main chanllenge in organizing the workshop was to gather all the relevant stakeholders in to one place to discuss the issue of territorial development of Scadar Lake. The participation of both Prime Ministers of Montenegro and Albania underlined importance of joint planning of the two countries regarding Scadar Lake and trully promoted future cooperation between the institutions form both countries.

Total cost of the workshop amounted to 12,000 euros provided by UNDP

Results and Impact

The showcase is a high-level w/shop dedicated to discussions concerning the Lake Skadar International Designation for Territorial Development. Discussions at the w/shop included: cooperation between Albania and Montenegro; joint action plan for the sustainable management of the Lake and its natural resources; establishment of a specific decision-making body. Following the recommendations from the meeting, concrete steps were taken by both governments. By decision of the Council of Ministers on November 2nd 2005, Albania protected Lake Skadar - 265 sqkm and the Buna Delta –230 sqkm. In Montenegro, Office for Sustainable Development supported by UNESCO-ROSTE and UNDP LO Podgorica organized Donor coordination meeting for Skadar Lake on June 16th 2006. Similar Donor coordination meeting will also be held in Albania soon.

Lessons for Replication

Main Results

Opening the Meeting on cross-border vision of the Skadar/Shkodra Lake, which represents shared wealth and potential of Montenegro and Albania, Prime Ministers of the two Republics expressed their views of the cooperation and pointed out the most important coordinates for the joint plan of action for the sustainable management of the Lake and its natural resources. Also it was stated that there is a need for development and implementation of the Action Plan in accordance with the national legislation of the two Parties, with the aim of framing joint initiatives, and in line with the European Union Water Framework Directive. Another conclusion of the meeting was to harmonize current and future activities towards a common vision by fostering the establishment and implementation of a specific decision-making body - in the form of a joint Committee based on the experience of the Skadar Lake Forum, which has been operating within the REC/SDC project since 2001.

Following the recommendations from the meeting, concrete steps were taken by both governments. By decision of the Council of Ministers on November 2nd 2005, Albania protected Lake Skadar - 265 sqkm and the Buna Delta –230 sqkm. In Montenegro, Office for Sustainable Development supported by UNESCO-ROSTE and UNDP LO Podgorica organized Donor coordination meeting for Skadar Lake on June 16th 2006. Similar Donor coordination meeting will also be held in Albania soon.


Outlook (Conclusions and Next Steps)

The next steps will be to use the momentum and to continue the cooperation between the two governments in sustainable valorization of resources of Scadar Lake.

Testimonies and Stakeholder Perceptions

There is a 15 minute video from the conference which has main statements and interview with the important stakeholders including both Prime Ministers.

Timeframe & Status

Workshop on the Lake Skadar International Designation for Territorial Development took place in Vranjina, Montenegro on 18th of October 2006 and in Shkodra, Albania on 19th of October 2006. Following the workshop there was a 3 day workshop for NGOs in Shkodra, Albania.

References

See also

Water Knowledge Fair 2006

External Resources

Attachments

 Albania Skadar Lake.doc

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