MedWetCoast Project for conservation of Wetlands and Coastal Ecosystems in the Mediterranean Region MedWetCoast Project for conservation of Wetlands and Coastal Ecosystems in the Mediterranean Region
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Albanian Training workshop report : Vlora city, from 1-2 August 2003
"Strengthening and developing the capacities of Vlora CBOs, NGOs and community groups, in order to avail them with the necessary tools and knowledge to address and develop environmental project and activities in local level"
Wednesday 15 October 2003, by Web Team

The workshop was organized by the MWC office in the frame of its activities related to Objective 2 of the project document: "Protection and removal of root causes in key demonstration sites", falling under the output 2.3 "Public awareness activities/ provision of capacity building support to local NGOs" and Objective 3, output 3.3 "Training in natural area management methods".

It took place in Vlora city, from 1-2 August 2003 and was preceded by several preparations from both the national project office and local project office in Vlora. About 30 representatives of local NGOs participated in the training.

1 August 2003

During the first day, the participants attended and discussed on the issues presented by the speakers as follows:

- 1. MedWetCoast objectives, philosophy, areas of activities, strategy and the achievements so far - the paper was presented by Mr. Llazar Gjonca, local expert of the PIU - Vlora. He informed about the relevance of the legal and regulatory instruments developed for the nature conservation, biodiversity protection. Some of the short term measures taken for the improvement of the situation including the efforts for the preparation of the management plans focused in 5 project sites, hydrological and biological monitoring activities etc. He mentioned the importance of the public awareness component of the project and the replication effect of these activities. Some of the key events of the project progress are the establishment of the Steering Committees, completion of the site diagnoses, thematic mapping of the project sites, assessment of the legal frame relevant for the protected areas, development of a national training program for local and national; experts on different aspects of environmental management, hydrological monitoring and water quality analyses and other public awareness campaign in local and national level. Main action taken for the improvement of the situation in the ecosystem of the project sites are rehabilitation and cleaning up of the forest "Pylli i Sodes" (about 2 km length and 8-10 m wide in both sides of the main road), rehabilitation of the Small Communication Channel in the Narta lagoon, reforestation on the Pish-Poro, 10 ha and in the area surrounding Orikumi Lagoon (2 ha). The stated objectives for 2003 include update and implementation of the endangered species monitoring program, assessment of the mercury pollution near Vlora Bay, initiation of the Management Plan elaboration, development of the national Wetlands Strategy, assessment of tourists resources in the area, and other related management actions.

- 2. The Deputy Minister of Environment, Prof.Dr. Besnik Baraj, took the floor and briefly introduced the government policies on environment. Mr. Baraj focused his speech on the main priorities of the Albanian Government on improving the environment and its management. As the main tools he mentioned the strengthening of the MoE, development and improvement of the environmental legal frame regulatory framework, institutional improvements regarding the environmental inspection and other enforcement of law etc. Part of these efforts is also the establishment of the environmental units in the other line ministries and provisions of the synergies among all institutions and other structure whose activity is relevant for the environmental management. He noticed the significant role of the NGO participation in addressing and resolving the environmental problems through their partnership and opponent position in some cases (e.g the drilling and exploration activity on Zvernec). The pressure of the local communities and NGO concerning the critical environmental issues is part of the contribution to resolving the problems faced and ensuring a sustainable development. This calls on the other side for increased public awareness and education. As part of the efforts and contribution of the Albanian Government he mentioned the development and approval of the National Environmental Action Plan (NEAP) as the basic document of the state environmental policies, completion of the regulatory framework in the MoE and other Ministries, development and approval of the Strategy for Mitigation of the Illegal Cuttings, development of the National Water Strategy, development of the National Waste Strategy, development and approval of the biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, development and approval of the National Environmental and Health Action Plan, development and approval of the National Strategy for economical and social development, State of Environmental Reporting etc. The challenges for the future are the management of the solid waste, treatment of the wastewater, management, planning and development of the urban areas, hot spots, and environmental public awareness and NGO capacity buildings. For these actions much more financial resources are needed and better cooperation among different institutions, including a "critical mass" of qualified experts.

- 3. Several questions were addressed to Deputy Minister regarding the issues discussed: e.g. the participation of the NGO and local communities n the decision making process, government plans for the waste management, government funds available for environment . In commenting these questions Mr. Baraj pointed out the importance of the awareness raising process to both political and NGO communities in order to have an efficient decision making process taking full account of the community opinions. The MoE has limited funds available that allow only for some monitoring elements-air, water, etc., as well as for supporting NGO in environmental project. Regarding the sanitary landfills, Dr.Baraj informed that there are some studies completed for construction of the landfills in some cities but due to lack of financial means there is not yet any implementation taking place. He draw reminded the participants that in Vlora there is an University which is a very prominent factor in contributing to development strategies and developing environmental projects. On the other side the local authorities are responsible for the dumpsites management becoming in this way very important actors in this area.

Mr. Niko Dumani, representing the PPNEA, raised questions regarding issues like the role of the MoE, the Local Environmental Action Plans, fight against the abuse of politics with environment (Aarhus convention) and for the support and encouragement of the environmental association and communities. In this respect Mr.Baraj recalled that even though there are difficulties faced by the MoE (lack of personnel, financial sources etc.) a lot of work and inputs are provided by the MoE on improvement of the legal and regulatory framework, environmental inspection, etc. The MoE does not manage natural resources but monitors and supervises the compliance with law and part of this activity is the development of the LEAP which should be closely developed with the local authorities and expertise taking account also to the potential bilateral cooperation with neighbor specialized institutions. More public information on environmental problems and respective decision-making is needed, including knowledge on Aarhus and other environmental conventions.

Mr. Pajtim Shpata, representing the association "Ekspedita Blu", informed on the measurement they have made on some seawater quality elements in cooperation with University of Lece (Italy). Based on the findings and experience, he drew attention of the participants and government representatives on the adverse impacts form the use of dynamite fishing and the urgent measures to permanently prohibit these cases.

Mr. Zamir Dedej, Project Director and Director of Biodivesirty and Nature conservation, made comments and expressed his position for the issues discussed by the participants. There should be a more active role of the local experts, NGOs and CBOs in addressing their environmental concerns and put pressure on the decision-makers for right solution of the problems. The central institutions like MoE develop the policies and can only help and cooperate with the local actors for resolving certain critical circumstances. Regarding the overall development of the region in Vlora he noted that the industrial development is part of the development of the city and the whole region - our duty is to keep and make this sustainable i.e. to avoid as much as possible the environmental impacts and other consequences. At the end he asked for much more dedication of the local actors toward their commitments and improvement of their capacities in order to be able deal professionally with the environmental challenges in the future. It was informed that actually there is a feasibility study staring up for the rehabilitation of the mercury contamination in Vlora Bay.

Concerning the opinions of some participant for the establishment of the ’environmental police’ was made clear that actually it is environment inspectorate assigned with the compliance of the laws and regulations on environmental issues. It is also important to have an active and sound public opinion against environmental infringements and law violations.

- 4. The MedWetCoast National Project Coordinator, Dr. Violeta Zuna, presented the module on the methodology for the Management Plans preparation highlighting the basic methodological elements and Management Planning process. The management plan itself should be a technical document, though it may be appropriate for it to be supported by legislation and in some circumstances to be adopted as a legal document. In the context of the MWC project the purpose of a management plan is the framework for prior reflection. The Management Plan encompasses functions like application of a text (law, instruction, agreements), compliance with organization policies, site description, management targets, tools for concentration, problem and conflict solving, identification of needs and necessary management, monitoring programs, organization of human and financial resources, guide for staff, applications off the site (communication) etc.

In the MWC context the management plan coordinator is responsible for formalizing and implementing the entire process, achievement of the results, contributing to transferring the MP to the site manager, coordinating the various involved parties, writing the final document. The phases of the management plan include fact gathering, situation analysis, objectives formulation, actions proposing, forecasting of the means to be set up.

Some of the participants asked for more information on the project activities and some clarification regarding the delineation of project sites and the relevance of the seawater to project activities. Another issue, which was made evident, was the cooperation of the Project Office with the local NGOs and their contribution for the development of the project ideas, aiming at improvement of the environmental situation in the project sites and exercising the necessary pressure to the decision-makers for sound environmental oriented decisions.

In clarifying one of the issues raised, Ms. Zuna explained that, even though the project is not investment - oriented but capacity building and institutional strengthening driven, it does consider and makes the appropriate steps in cases like the wastewater discharge channel in the Narta lagoon and evaluates the options to avoid this problem.

- 5. Mr. Eno Dodbiba, MedWetCoast National Technical Expert, presented a module on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Among the 8 internationally agreed objectives for the sustainable development of the developing countries, he put particular attention to the objective no 7: Environment and Sustainable Environment. Integration of the sustainable development principles in the environmental policies, country implementation programs and reversing the loss of natural and environmental resources define one of the aims to be achieved. The management and conservation of the protected areas receives particular attention and resources in frame of the activities falling under this aim.

2 August 2003

During the second day of the workshop, the moderator, Mr. Sokol Celo, presented two modules:

- 6. Planning and development of the environmental projects focused on the protection and conservation of the wetland and coastal ecosystems. In an interactive approach he introduced the participants with the knowledge on the project cycle, how te elaborate a project idea, how to write a project proposal, and other project development procedures.

- 7. On the other module he dealt with the participatory approach of the interested communities. He introduced the concepts of community’s participation in development projects, tools and instruments providing effective and efficient participation. The second part of this module was organized in working groups. The participants were split in three groups and each group exercised the knowledge on writing a project proposal for certain environmental problems picked up by them.

Group exercises [2]:

a. First group:

The project theme: The tourist potential of the wild life in the sea- Vlora Bay. The project Objective: Improvement of the distinction on clean waters and wild life of aquatic ecosystem of Vlora Bay.

b. Second group

The project theme: Decontamination from the Hg of the territory of the former PVC Factory of Vlora

The project Objective: Recovery and normalization/improvement of the situation of the ecosystem and human settlements living in this area

c. Third group

The project theme: Establishment of a Forest Protection Center - Vlora

The project Objective: Improvement of the logistic, rural and institutional infrastructure in order to increase the forest protection in the national park of Llogara.

Evaluations forms were prepared and delivered to the participants for the evaluation purposes.

[1] The groups were moderated by the project staff and the moderator. Illustrative flip charts are available in the project office.

[2] The groups were moderated by the project staff and the moderator. Illustrative flip charts are available in the project office.

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