Albania and Montenegro join for local action

24 May 2012 | News story

Common understanding for sustainable development in the border region of Prokletije/Bjeshkët e Namuna Mountains was officially announced on 8 May 2012, when Local Action Groups (LAGs) of Albania and Montenegro signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), agreeing to strengthen the cooperation in environmental protection, tourism and recreation.

The MoU concerns mountain range of Prokletije/ Bjeshkët e Nemuna Mountains that straddles the border between Albania and Montenegro. This pristine ecosystem is characterised by high biodiversity, rich local tradition and unique cultural values. Its magnitude places it at the top of the list of largest unspoilt natural areas of Europe. Yet, the region is facing inadequate management practices, ever increasing pressure caused by uncontrolled development, low public participation in management practices, lack of efficient communication and the understanding of biodiversity values and its benefit for the local communities.

This MoU is not a common transboundary agreement given that it is signed between Local Action Groups consisting of representatives of local authorities, stakeholder groups and individuals. Unlike national or regional authorities, the LAGs do not have statutory powers of their own and therefore cannot require any particular action to take place. The MoU is not legally binding in anyway and its articles are not obligatory. The LAGs must rely on campaigning, persuasion, lobbying, information sharing, cooperation and consensus building to achieve their aims. This MoU provides a framework for such actions. Although a strong level of cooperation between the LAGs is hoped for, this is inevitably limited by logistics, available resources, capacities and language differences. Though, having in mind the enthusiasm and support from all actors involved, the prospects for future cooperation and sustainable development of this area are promising.

The MoU is supplemented with Guidelines that explain its articles and suggest Local Action Groups the ways to implement them in their own countries and to collaborate on their realization across the border.

The MoU has been signed within “Environment for People in the Dinaric Arc” project implemented by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), WWF Mediterranean Programme and SNV (Netherlands Development Organization) funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland.

For further information please contact Tomasz Pezold, Ecosystems Project Officer at IUCN Programme Office for South-Eastern Europe