The trinational Prespa Park -- special meeting, March 2003

01/04/2003

Progress of the Prespa Park

On 29 March 2003, the Prespa Park Coordination Committee, bringing together representatives of Albania, Greece and the FYR of Macedonia, as well as Ramsar / MedWet, held a special meeting in the Greek village of Aghios Germanos. The meeting was hosted warmly by the Municipality of Prespa, which covered all the relevant costs, thus demonstrating strong local commitment to the concept of trilateral collaboration. It was chaired by Metodja Dimovski from the Ministry of Environment of the FYR or Macedonia and was attended also by Kiril Nasteski, the State Secretary of the same ministry, and by representatives of UNDP. MedWet was represented by Thymio Papayannis, its Senior Advisor.

In the beginning of the meeting, Lazaros Nalpantidfis, the new Mayor of Prespa, included in his welcome speech some very progressive collaboration proposals, including the preparation of a joint management plan for the two lakes, establishment of a common control and management body, replacing intensive agriculture in the area with organic cultivation, facilitating transborder access and common care for the cultural heritage of the Prespa region.

This extraordinary session had as a purpose to evaluate the proposed structure and management of a project development phase (PDF B) for a large (close to € 15 million) GEF programme, which will address biodiversity and sustainability issues in the Prespa Lakes region. Already the German government, through KfW - the Bank for Reconstruction, has committed a considerable part of the necessary funds. After lively discussion, consensus was reached, whose main points were:

- confirmation of UNDP and KfW as the implementing agencies of the programme;
- key role of the Co-ordination Committee as the principal decision-making and supervisory body;
- appointment of an international project manager, to act in the name of the Committee;
- establishment of project implementation units in the three participating countries.

Terms of reference were also agreed for each of these entities.

On the other hand, the terms of reference for the project consultant were not considered fully satisfactory and will be redrafted by UNDP and KfW, to be approved by the end of April.

MedWet was expected to play a catalytic role in the project and to assist in maintaining an equitable balance among stakeholders and in ensuring strong local participation.

In addition, the financial report of the Prespa Park for 2002 and the budget for 2003, redrafted with the help of Spyros Kouvelis, the MedWet Coordinator, were reviewed and approved. MedWet was requested to continue advising the Secretariat on how to improve its financial reporting.

Greater Lake Prespa, World Wetlands Day 2000 (Photo: Delmar Blasco/Ramsar)

-- reported by Senior Advisor Thymio Papayannis.

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