The objective of the regional Biodiversity Task Force is to advise the Regional Working Group Environment (RWG Env) on how to mainstream biodiversity concerns in the overall and specific targets of the South East Europe 2020 Strategy and in particular into the Dimension J – Environment. Furthermore, BD TF will stimulate regional cooperation and enable the South East European (SEE) economies (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia and The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) progress towards international biodiversity commitments, including the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity and its Aichi Biodiversity Targets adopted under the Convention on Biological Diversity and implementation of EU biodiversity related directives.
As the Secretariat of the new BD TF, IUCN ECARO builds upon on its former project “Toward Strengthened Conservation Planning in South-Eastern Europe” implemented from August 2013 – May 2017 in close cooperation with national nature conservation authorities in SEE and that supported, among other, the creation of a “Regional platform for nature conservation planning”.
The Secretariat of the Regional Cooperation Council (hereinafter: “RCC”), working upon the request of the Southeast Europe Investment Committee and supported by the European Commission (EC), coordinated the development of a regional growth strategy – “South East Europe 2020: Jobs and Prosperity in a European Perspective” (hereinafter: “SEE 2020 Strategy”). The main goal of the SEE 2020 Strategy is to assist in boosting competitiveness and job creation, and to underscore the European perspective of the region’s future. The Strategy pursues a holistic pattern of development for the region and seeks to stimulate the key long-term drivers of growth such as innovation, skills and the integration of trade. Like the Europe 2020 Strategy, it is centered on five interlinked development pillars: (i) Integrated Growth; (ii) Smart Growth; (iii) Sustainable Growth; (iv) Inclusive Growth; and (v) Governance for Growth. A number of specific sectoral dimensions suitable for regional cooperation have been identified under each pillar and activities in these dimensions are expected to contribute to the achievement of the headline targets.
Environment is one of the four dimensions of the Sustainable Growth pillar of the SEE 2020 Strategy. The RCC established a Regional Working Group of high-level representatives of South-East Europe (SEE) ministries responsible for environment, water resources, land, energy and climate change (hereinafter: “Regional Working Group on Environment” or “RWG Env”) to guide the implementation of the Dimension Environment of the SEE 2020 Strategy. Each of the policy dimensions contained in the SEE 2020 Strategy has a regional dimension coordinator (RDC), and Dimension Environment is being coordinated by the Regional Environmental Centre for Central and Eastern Europe (REC) in cooperation with Global Water Partnership– Mediterranean (GWP-Med) and Standing Working Group on Regional Rural Development (SWG).
In 2016, IUCN ECARO and GIZ Open Regional Fund for South-East Europe – Biodiversity project (hereinafter: “GIZ ORF BD”) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) envisaging cooperation on a number of regional priority issues, such as assessment and valuation of biodiversity and ecosystem services, mainstreaming of biodiversity information, and organizational biodiversity-related development and networking. Following up on these commitments, the BMZ funded GIZ Open Regional Fund for South-East Europe – Biodiversity project (hereinafter: “GIZ ORF BD”) launched a consultative initiative towards establishing a regional Biodiversity Task Force (hereinafter: “the BD TF”). In response to the initiative, and in view of Point 1 of the Terms of References (ToR) for the RWG Env stating that it can “Propose and/or develop additional mechanisms and tools for effective implementation of activities under the Dimension J – Environment of the SEE 2020 Strategy,” the RCC Secretariat presented the initiative to SEE governments at the 4th meeting of the RWG Env, held on 9th of December 2016 in Belgrade, Serbia. The participants of the 5th RWG Env meeting, held on 20th of June 2017 in Belgrade, took note of the interest of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Regional Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia to act as a Secretariat of the BD TF, responsible for convening meetings and facilitating BD TF-related activities as supported by the RCC.