The „Open Regional Fund for South-East Europe – Biodiversity“ (ORF BD) is the latest addition of the ongoing Open Regional Fund Program that is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) since 2007. The ORF BD aims to strengthen regional cooperation for the implementation of the EU Biodiversity Strategy. The political partner of the Open Regional Fund Program is the Regional Council of Cooperation (RCC).
During the ORF BD launching event that took place in February 2016 in Belgrade, about 100 participants including high-level government representatives, governmental institutions, academic and research institutes, NGOs and international organisations from South-East European region gathered to learn about the ORF BD and to exchange on regional priorities for each of its three focus areas: (i) economic value of biodiversity and ecosystem services, (ii) transboundary ecosystem management, and (iii) biodiversity information management and reporting. The event enabled multi-stakeholder partnerships needed to improve cooperation and coordination related to biodiversity conservation.
At the current stage, three sub-projects are under the initial stage of implementation: Regional Network for Biodiversity Information Management and Reporting – BIMR; Integration of Ecosystem Services Assessment and Valuation (ESAV) in the Future Course of Action in South-East Europe; Regional Network of Biodiversity related CSOs – BioNET. During this year numerous regionally relevant events were supported by ORF BD and in cooperation with its partners (Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), IUCN Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia (IUCN ECARO), Regional Environmental Working Group (REWG), World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Regional Environmental Centre (REC), United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) etc.).
IUCN ECARO and ORF BD signed a Memorandum of Understanding to formalize their cooperation and coordination efforts. One of IUCN-ORF BD first jointly implemented activity related to a regional training on ecosystem services in June in Albania. This training event was cofunded by IUCN ECARO as part of the ORF BD ESAV SP and delivered by GIZ’s global project “ValuES: Methods for integrating ecosystem services into policy, planning and practice”.
The BIMR SP started its work by organising a kick-off meeting in September, in Sarajevo, with the representatives of the Ministries in charge of the Environment and Environmental Protection Agencies of seven economies of SEE region, RCC, WWF Adria and UNEP. The event concluded successfully by confirming the sub-project design and including the establishment of a BIMR regional platform as steering mechanism for the participating stakeholders. High-level national briefings and country assessments will be carried out in the next two months.