15 Jul 2013

Sustainable tourism through Integrated Coastal Zone Management projects on the Albanian coastline

By Liz Smith

After the radical political and economical shifts in Albanian society in late 90's, this country is facing extensive changes in its collective ideology. But changes are not evident only in the heads of Albanian citizens, liberalization takes huge steps also in terms of foreign investments in infrastructure and tourism. As a consequence, once untouched pristine Albanian Southern coastline is turning into a place where wild usurpation of coastline – a traditional public domain – gains momentum, and new hotels and other touristic facilities are competing for a first class sea-view.

With focused investments towards more Integrated Coastal Zone Management processes that would also include conservation of its immense biodiversity, CEPF is trying to give contribution to neutralize the effect of biodiversity loss on the Albanian coastline. Three Albanian Non-governmental Organizations (NGOS) with a number of national and international partners will use their experience and knowledge to try and find ways for more sustainable nature-friendly development.

NGO “INCA” will be tackling this challenge through finding models of sustainable economic activities in Albanian Marine Protected Areas, while a similar model will be used for terrestrial parts of same or other important coastal sites by NGO “PPNEA”. Italian based Albanian NGO “ISCOS” has proposed to work with high-school students of Lalzi Bay – a typical example of uncontrolled construction in recently virgin coastline close to the Albanian capital Tirana – in promoting environmental issues through a self-established on-line eco-radio, called “Green Radio”.

In June the CEPF RIT Programme Officer for the Balkans visited all the listed organizations and ways of cooperation between the very NGOs were agreed. Meetings with GEF Small Grant Programme and European Delegation representatives revealed common urge to work against biodiversity threats and ways where funds of the two CEPF donors could be enriched with additional aligned investments were identified. The occasion was used also to promote the new Call for Proposals which took place in June, which was designed to cover another important environmental issue also very relevant for Albania - the Integrated River Basin Management. With the help of Albanian CSOs the information about the CEPF Call for proposals was widely distributed and as a result a high number of proposals were received from this country. At CEPF we hope we will be able to make a contribution also in this very challenging issue.

Story by Borut Rubinic, Programme Officer for the Balkans