Transboundary Prespa Park -- Coordination Committee meeting

21/02/2008

Important meeting on a GEF project

The transboundary Prespa Park, which concerns the two Balkan lakes shared by Albania, FYR of Macedonia and Greece, is benefiting from a large GEF project, managed by UNDP. The ambitious goals of the project are to improve the management of ecosystems, to increase the capacity of the responsible state and NGO organisations, to promote sustainable activities and better quality of life for the local inhabitants and to strengthen the cooperation among the three neighbouring countries. Beneficiaries of the project are Albania and the FYR of Macedonia, while Greece participates in an integrated manner with its own financing.

On 7 March 2008, in the small village of Pretor on the Macedonian shore of Macro Prespa, the Prespa Park Coordination Committee met in its capacity of GEF Project Oversight Committee. This flexible body consists of three members from each country, representing central and local government and the NGO community, while the tenth member is a permanent observer from Ramsar / MedWet (in this case Thymio Papayannis).

The meeting reviewed the activities carried out in the framework of the project in 2007 and approved work plans for 2008, separately for each of the three countries, as well as the transboundary component of the project, presented by Alvin Lopez, the International Technical Advisor. The intention of Greece to construct sewage treatment facilities in all settlements on the Greek side of Prespa was noted. The proposals for the improvement of the cooperation mechanisms, prepared by consultant Slavko Bogdanovic, were briefly reviewed, but they will be discussed in depth at a special future session of the Committee. A transboundary monitoring system, which is part of the project, is being initiated and will be the focus of a special meeting of the Prespa Monitoring and Conservation Working Group. Finally, certain key points concerning the Prespa Park website were agreed.

The meeting was chaired by Anita Kodzoman, UNDP Macedonia, while Dr. Vladimir Mamaev, GEF Regional Advisor for Europe and the CIS took part and contributed to the discussions.

-- Thymio Papayannis

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