Press Releases

For information only - not an official document

UNIS/OUS/081
24 May 2011

Seven Carpathian Countries Meet to Further Cooperate on the Protection and Sustainable Development of the Carpathians

Third Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Carpathian Convention (COP3)
25 - 27 May 2011, Bratislava, Slovak Republic

VIENNA/BRATISLAVA, 24 May (UN Information Service) - Environmental Ministers and High Level Representatives of the Governments of Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovak Republic and Ukraine will meet on 25 - 27 May in Bratislava for the Third Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP3) to the Carpathian Convention. As the main decision-making body of the Convention, the COP will decide the strategic policy direction of the Carpathian Convention for the next three years.

Handover of the Presidency to the Slovak Republic

COP3 is hosted by the Government of the Slovak Republic and marks the handover of the Romanian presidency of the Carpathian Convention to the Slovak Republic, which will preside over the Convention until 2014. The High Level Segment will start on Thursday 26 May at 7 p.m., with a public opening event at the Hviezdoslavovo Square in front of the conference venue, the Radisson Blu Carlton Hotel in Bratislava.

Forests and tourism main topics

The adoption of two new Protocols to the Carpathian Convention, the Protocol on Sustainable Forest Management and the Protocol on Sustainable Tourism will take the centre stage at COP. Both thematic issues are of fundamental importance for the future development of the region.

More than half of the Carpathians are covered by forests, with close to 100,000 km2 of natural and semi-natural forests. They represent a vital link between the forests of the north and those of the west and south-west of Europe. With 3,000 km2 of virgin forests the Carpathians harbour the largest remaining virgin forests in Europe (outside Russia).

Tourism is one of the most dynamically developing branches of the economy in the Carpathian countries. With their diverse natural resources and long preserved traditions, the Carpathian Mountains present ideal sites for the development of tourism. In the last 10 years alone, the number of hotels has increased by nearly 60 per cent.

With the adoption of the Protocols the Member States will commit themselves to cooperate and carry out activities to actively promote the sustainable management of Carpathian forests and maximize the positive benefits of sustainable tourism for ecosystems, as well as economic and social development in the Carpathians.

Engagement of experts and NGOs

Numerous experts and NGOs that are active in the region will highlight the different aspects of sustainable development across the Carpathians: Cultural heritage, education on sustainable development, accessibility and ecological connectivity, as well as the development of an integrated research strategy for the Carpathians. Participants will also have the chance to explore European Union (EU) funding opportunities for the development of the Carpathian area.

Presentation of new projects in the region

Furthermore, several new projects of special relevance for the entire Carpathian area will be presented at the COP3:

● The BIOREGIO Carpathians project, which aims to develop, harmonize and implement integrated management plans for protected areas in the Carpathians. The project funded by the SEE European Territorial Cooperation Programme has 16 partners and will be launched at COP3.

● CARPIVIA project, which aims to assess the vulnerability of the Carpathian region to climate change and to develop an inventory of potential and already implemented adaptation measures (with a focus on ecosystem-based adaptation measures). The project was launched early this year and is funded by the European Commission.

● The projects "Access2Mountain", recently approved under the EU South East Europe European Territorial Cooperation Programme, and the ongoing Austria - Slovakia Cross Border Cooperation Programme "Alpine Carpathian Corridor" project deal with the strategic issues of environmentally friendly tourism accessibility and development of green infrastructures in the Carpathians and the Alps.

Press Conference on Friday Lunch Time

After the official ending of COP3 on Friday, 27 May, the Representatives of the Carpathian Convention Member States will present the decisions and the new Protocols to the media.

COP3 can be found at www.carpathianconvention.org

***

About the Carpathians:

The Carpathians are Europe's largest, longest and most twisted and fragmented mountain chain in Europe, shared by seven Central and Eastern European countries: the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovak Republic and Ukraine. The region represents a centre of extensive biological diversity and unique and well-preserved cultural heritage. The European Union's largest populations of brown bears, wolves, lynx, European bisons and imperial eagles (a globally threatened species) are found in the Carpathians. They are also home to almost 4,000 plant species, including one-third of those species existing in Europe that are found nowhere else in the World.

About the Carpathian Convention:

The Framework Convention on the Protection and Sustainable Development of the Carpathians (Carpathian Convention) was adopted and signed by seven Central and Eastern European countries (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovak Republic and Ukraine) in May 2003 in Kyiv, Ukraine. It is the only multi-level governance mechanism covering the whole of the Carpathian area and the second sub-regional treaty-based regime for the protection of a mountain region worldwide. Since 2004 the Interim Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention (ISCC) is administered by the United Nations Environment Programme in the Vienna office and hosted by the Republic of Austria.

The COP is the main decision-making body of the Convention, consisting of High Level Representatives of the contracting states to the Convention. Amongst others, the COP is responsible for the adoption of protocols and amendments to the Convention and for the establishment of subsidiary bodies to the Convention. It decides the programme of work and the financial budget of the Convention and reviews and supports the implementation of the Convention and its Protocols. The ordinary meetings of the COP are held every three years.

* *** *

For more information please contact:

Veronika Hopfgartner
UNEP Interim Secretariat of the Carpathian Convention
Telephone: (+43-1) 26060-5620
Mobile: (+43-699) 1459-7251
Email: veronika.hopfgartner[at]unvienna.org

or

Miroslav Beriac
Ministry of Environment of the Slovak Republic
Telephone: (+421-905) 887-451
Email: miroslav.beriac[at]enviro.gov.sk