Global Biodiversity Forum for Eastern Europe and the CIS, April 2003
The Global Biodiversity Forum (GBF) was founded ten years ago as an open, independent mechanism to encourage analysis, dialogue and partnership on key ecological, economic, social and institutional issues related to biodiversity, thus contributing to the development and implementation of several biodiversity-related international conventions.
The GBF hosted a very successful 17th Session prior to Ramsar COP8 in Valencia under the theme "Managing Wetlands for Global Change and Local Livelihoods". On 23-25 April 2003, the GBF held its first Regional Session for Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (of the former USSR) in Chisinau (Kishinev in Russian), the capital of the Republic of Moldova which joined the Ramsar Convention in 2000. The meeting was perfectly organized by IUCN-the World Conservation Union, through their Moscow-based office for Russia and the CIS, and by Biotica, the Ecological Society of Moldova. It brought together more than 150 participants from Moldova, Russia, most of the CIS states, Estonia, Lithuania, and Romania, as well as representatives of the World Bank, UNDP, UNEP, GEF, UNESCO Man and Biosphere, the European Centre for Nature Conservation, the Ramsar Convention and others. It was an ideal setting to exchange expertise and knowledge among a number of experts involved in biodiversity conservation and sustainable use in the Eastern European and Central Asian region. Specific training workshops were held on project development for submission to the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), and on biodiversity financing opportunities, as part of the European Biodiversity Resourcing Initiative (EBRI).
The Ramsar Bureau was one of the supporters of this Regional Session which focused on four major themes, close to the issues covered by several Resolutions adopted by Ramsar's COP8. The following themes were dealt with in four concurrent workshops: agriculture, biodiversity and sustainable land use; perspectives and obstacles in view of an environmental strategy for Eastern European and Central Asian countries; integrating biodiversity considerations into policies of the financial and private sectors; and issues and challenges for the development of a protected areas system and Pan-European Ecological Network. The detailed programme, participants list, and abstract of workshop presentations can be found on the GBF website under the menu "past sessions" at www.gbf.ch. The Conclusions of the Session and its Recommendations to the 5th Ministerial Conference "Environment for Europe", to be held in Kyiv on 21-23 May 2003, will also be available on this website as of mid-May.
The meeting provided furthermore an opportunity for different Ramsar national focal points to exchange views. Ramsar's European Coordinator had the opportunity to meet with most of the members of Moldova's National Ramsar Committee, including its chair, Gheorghe Duca, Minister of Ecology, Construction and Territorial Development. After the GBF session, a brief visit was undertaken to the Prut river floodplain, forming the border with Romania, north of the town of Leova.
-- report and photos by Dr Tobias Salathé, Ramsar
The first Regional Session of the GBF for Eastern Europe and the CIS in full work, and during the evening reception.
Views of the, so far unprotected, wetlands in the Prut river floodplain, an important migratory corridor for waterbirds, fish and other animals.
Participants of the Ramsar visit from the Ministry of Ecology, Construction and Territorial Development and the National Ramsar Committee overlooking the Prut river floodplain. Ramsar's national focal point, Ion Bejenaru, taking a photograph, standing left.
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Views of the silver poplars along the Prut river.
View of a rural settlement at the edge of the Prut floodplain. Reed harvesting forms one of the benefits obtained from the Prut wetlands.