Albania, a developing country undergoing major reforms, has detected the need for institutional support for the creation of an efficient network of protected areas, among other priorities. Responding to this call, the Italian Cooperation initiated a series of conservation projects in the country, partnering with IUCN and several national organizations. In order to assess the results achieved in this field the international conference was held end of April in Rome, titled ‘Biodiversity conservation and sustainable development in Albania’, in collaboration with the La Sapienza University of Rome.
Dr. Mauro Ghirotti, Programme coordinator, Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, pointed out that in recent years Albanian authorities undertook very bold decisions such as the establishment of a network of protected areas and a specialised Agency for Protected Areas to preserve and develop their unique heritage. “We are quite honoured to realise that our support though IUCN has contributed to the definition and application of the national strategy. We are also glad of this opportunity to analyse and discuss mayor results with representatives from leading institutions and Mediterranean partners so that experiences can be shared and further applied,” Ghirotti concluded.
The conference gathered representatives of international organizations such as IUCN, EU, FAO, IFAD, Birdlife International, World Bank, WWF, as well as the national institutions such as the Ministry of Environment of Albania and the National Agency for Protected Areas of Albania. Mrs. Elvana Ramaj, Director of the Biodiversity directorate of the Albanian Ministry of Environment said that participation at this conference will advance the strong collaboration the Ministry has with the international community, particularly with the Italian Development Cooperation and IUCN in the field of nature conservation. “IUCN’s technical assistance to Albania is growing, reflecting the country’s commitment to strengthen the effectiveness of the protected area system by applying international standards in protected area governance and management”, said Mr. Boris Erg, Director of IUCN’s Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia. ”Improved protected area management will help safeguard the country’s valuable biodiversity and lay solid ground for sustainable development of local communities”.
Following a series of interesting presentations, including the ones from Federparchi (Italian Federation of Parks and Nature Reserves), the Shouf Biosphere Reserve of Lebanon, the Lazio Region Agency for Protected Areas and the Italian League for the Protection of Birds, participants shared their knowledge and experience and discussed appropriate sustainable development strategies in Albania. “It has been a very interesting, stimulating and active day, and I am sure that each one of us will take home new ideas on opportunities for possible collaborations,” said Prof. Fabio Attorre of the Department of Environmental Biology at the Sapienza University.