Prespa Park Coordination Committee, third regular meeting, May 2002

24/05/2002

A KEY MEETING FOR THE PRESPA LAKES

The Third Regular Meeting of the Coordination Committee of the Prespa Transboundary Park was held in the old Albanian city of Korça on 17-18 May 2002. Beyond Committee and Secretariat members, the participants included representatives of two German institutions - KfW and GTZ - as well as UNDP. Ramsar / MedWet, which is a permanent member of the Committee, was represented by Thymio Papayannis. The meeting was energetically chaired by Zamir Dedej, Conservation Director of the new Albanian Ministry of Environment.

A major issue to be discussed was the application for a PDF-B (project development fund) from GEF, which had been prepared by UNDP and KfW. The application was based on a concept document previously approved by the Committee and GEF. The funds will be used during one year to prepare a detailed proposal for a large (10 million USD) GEF project. The application was approved with minor modifications. Perhaps the most important one was the decision to incorporate in it a hydrogeological study, which was considered of great priority, as the water level of the two lakes is dropping considerably during the last few years for reasons that have not yet been fully determined.

The Committee was presented with the final draft of the Strategic Action Plan (SAP), which is the first common activity carried out jointly by Albania, Greece and the FYR of Macedonia. This was considered as a well-prepared and very important document, as it attempts to create an integrated vision for the future of the Prespa Lakes region, taking fully into account present local conditions. It was decided that the SAP required extensive consultation during the next four months in all three countries, so that local authorities and societies, as well as regional and central services, could be better informed and be able to contribute to its final formulation. It was also agreed that the SAP would provide the guidance for all activities to be carried out through the GEF process.

Various other issues were discussed and agreed. The PDF-B management team will be based on the Macedonian side, while a Communications Officer for the Prespa Park will be established in Tirana, with the post being advertised. A working group was appointed to screen small projects in the area to be funded by GTZ. It was also decided to honour the memory of Professor Leke Gjiknuri, ex-president of PPNEA, the major Albanian NGO, and member of the Committee. This will be finalised at the next regular meeting of the Coordination Committee, which will be held in Resen, FYR of Macedonia, on 13-14 December 2002.

-- reported by Thymio Papayannis, Ramsar's Senior Advisor on MedWet

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