Press release | 25 Jun, 2024

Albania joins IUCN as its newest State Member

IUCN, the world’s biggest environmental network, extends a warm welcome to Albania as its 87th State Member, following their formal endorsement of the IUCN Statutes. This step demonstrates Albania's commitment to global conservation efforts. The Ministry of Tourism and Environment has been appointed by the state as the official liaison with the IUCN Secretariat.

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Lake Ohrid, World Heritage Site, Albania

Photo: IUCN, Boris Erg

"As Albania joins IUCN, we bring a rich biodiversity and a resolute commitment to environmental protection. This membership provides us with a valuable platform to collaborate and learn from global best practices, enhancing our conservation efforts and policies,” stressed Mirela Kumbaro Furxhi, Albanian Minister of Tourism and Environment. “Albania has established a model for protected areas through the creation of the Vjosa National Park, which safeguards one of the last wild rivers in Europe. Additionally, Albania has created new parks, such as the Alps National Park in the north of the country. These protected areas are also key assets for our ecotourism, perfectly embodying the slogan "Albania All Senses." With over 21.4% of our territory under protection and numerous initiatives underway, our partnership with IUCN will strengthen our capabilities, merge traditional knowledge with cutting-edge science, and contribute significantly to both local and global environmental objectives. We are excited about the mutual benefits this collaboration will foster, elevating our conservation practices and advancing sustainable development," Mrs. Kumbaro concludes.

Albania boasts a diverse range of natural environments, including rugged mountains, lush forests, pristine rivers, and coastal landscapes. These varied ecosystems support a rich array of flora and fauna, contributing to Albania's biodiversity wealth. The country's environmental policy is implemented through mechanisms such as the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, as well as the growing network of protected areas. Complementing this comprehensive approach to biodiversity conservation, Albania is committed to reducing 20.9% of CO2 emissions by 2030. This includes, among other measures, sustainable forest management and forest landscape restoration.

"We are excited to celebrate Albania's State membership with IUCN. We look forward to enhancing our collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism and Environment and helping the country achieve its ambitious national targets, contributing to the global conservation targets," said Oliver Avramoski, Regional Director of IUCN Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia (ECARO). "Some of our many areas of collaboration include policy development, capacity building, and quality assurance of management effectiveness of Protected and Conserved Areas, including through the IUCN Green List certification.”

Over the past two decades, IUCN has worked closely with the government and civil society in Albania, helping strengthen the institutional framework for nature conservation, improve the national protected area system, and increase the level of community engagement. Major site-based interventions in protected areas included support to the inscription of the Albanian part of Lake Ohrid as a World Heritage site, management planning and community engagement in Shebenik National Park and along the Buna River, as well as IUCN’s role in the designation of the Vjosa River as the first Wild River National Park in Europe.

Furthermore, initiatives such as the Northern Forests Initiative and the ADAPT project demonstrate the potential for collaboration in addressing environmental challenges and promoting Nature-based Solutions in the country.

At regional level, Albania engages as an active member of the Biodiversity Task Force for the Western Balkans (BDTF WB). This regional body advises the Regional Working Group on the Green Agenda (GAWB) for the Western Balkans on the implementation of the Protection of Nature and Biodiversity Pillar of the GAWB Action Plan.

As Albania joins IUCN as its newest State Member, both parties are committed to furthering joint efforts on biodiversity conservation, ecosystem restoration, community engagement, adaptation to climate change, and environmental governance.

For more information on IUCN's work in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, click here.