Key agreement in South-Eastern Europe puts natural capital at the heart of economic development

Posted on 02 December 2013

 Eight countries endorse the protection of the Adria region
Budva, Montenegro – Representatives of the governments of eight countries – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo*, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia – have endorsed today a key agreement for the protection of the environment in the Adria region in South-Eastern Europe. WWF, the global conservation organisation, welcomes this historic milestone.

Today's agreement sees the Adria countries formally commit to strengthen regional cooperation in conservation and sustainable development, and the establishment of a first trilateral transboundary protected area between Albania, Kosovo* and Macedonia. The first two marine protected areas in Montenegro were also approved for creation. This agreement increases the eight countries' protected territory by more than 13 per cent and is endorsing the creation of two new national parks, 10 protected landscapes, and three marine protected areas.

The eight countries have committed to assess the economic value of their natural capital, while integrating nature conservation goals into economic development plans for fisheries, forestry, agriculture, energy, spatial planning, and cross-sectoral cooperation.

"The beautiful Adria region in South-Eastern Europe is rich in natural resources and has been identified by WWF as a place of global importance for its abundant biodiversity," said Jim Leape, Director General of WWF International. "WWF applauds all governments involved for their commitment to choose the long-term benefits associated with sustainable development over short-term economic gains."

The Adria countries commit to evaluate the contribution of protected areas to their own and the region's economy, and to draft sustainable financing schemes for protected areas. This will include plans to build sustainable tourism in these areas over the next five years.

"WWF is proud to have supported the Adria countries in the development of a regional network of almost 80 protected areas, known as the Dinaric Arc parks network," said Paolo Lombardi, Director of WWF Mediterranean. "This transboundary cooperation in the field of nature protection is happening for the first time in the Adria region, and should scale up the development of sustainable tourism in the region."

Adria is the most water-rich area in the Mediterranean, and hosts the largest European virgin forest and healthy populations of large carnivores – including bear, lynx, wolf and golden jackal. The region also boasts the second deepest canyon in the world and is home to more than 5,000 unique species.
*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/99 and the IJC opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.
Trebišnjica river in Trebinje, Bosnia & Herzegovina
Trebišnjica river in Trebinje, Bosnia & Herzegovina
© Edward PARKER / WWF
European pond turtle, Serbia
© Wild Wonders of Europe/Ruben Smit/WWF
Waterfall in Plitvice National Park, Croatia
© Plitvice National Park
Morning mist over black Lake, Durmitor NP, Montenegro.
© WWF / Wild Wonders of Europe /Milan Radisics
River Soca ("Velika korita", "Grand Canyon"), Triglav National Park, Slovenia.
© Wild Wonders of Europe / Daniel Zupanc / WWF