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Carpathian Convention Turns 10

View over "virgin forests" in the Romanian Carpathians
View over “virgin forests” in the Romanian Carpathians

It is pretty much the same even when considering the whole European geographic area because they belong to the very same orogeny, Carpathians, Alps, Pyrenees…

They are the mountains of Europe and they are pretty much neglected from the political perspective, neglected by the European policies, the interests of people in the mountains are not being always considered and this is why it is very important to have these conventions because they can also jointly do lobbying in Brussels to have better consideration of mountain dimension. “We often do this with the Carpathian people,” told us Marco Onida, the Secretary General of the Alpine Convention.

The Carpathian Convention was adopted on 22 May 2003 by Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine. The full title of the treaty is “Framework Convention for the Protection and Sustainable Development of the Carpathians.” Over the past decade, it has created a common focus and framework for identity and cooperation across the region. Furthermore, the seven member states have adopted formal protocols on the protection of biodiversity, tourism and forests. Implementation strategies for these protocols have been agreed or are currently under development. Other protocols on cultural heritage and transportation are already well advanced. Strategic guidance on adaptation to climate change is also underway and expected to be formally adopted by ministers when they meet next year. Further agreements are expected in future, including on agriculture, energy and regional development and spatial planning.

A community of people and organizations has developed around and in support of the Carpathian Mountains, from government authorities to international organizations like the United Nations Environmental Programme, the interim leader of the Convention’s secretariat.

Cooperation has been fostered not only across the Carpathians, but also to the Alps, with a strong partnership with the Alpine Network of Protected Areas, the Alpine Convention’s Permanent Secretariat, and the European Academy in Bolzano/Bozen, an Alpine think-tank that has been giving strong support to the Carpathian Convention secretariat.

Also not to be underestimated is the importance of creating an identity and idea, and networking behind it. Ten years ago, no one spoke of the Carpathians or saw them as one range of mountains shared by different countries. Differences prevailed over things in common. Over the past decade, this has clearly changed. The Carpathians today have become a term like the Alps, a badge of identity and pride for the countries and the people living in these areas, writes Andreas Beckmann, director of the WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme.

View over the Transylvanian Alps
View over the Transylvanian Alps

“The principles [of the Carpathian and Alpine Convention] are pretty much the same, which means cooperation to solve common problems and to better exploit the common opportunities. The reality, however, is quite different. The Carpathian area is much bigger than the Alps, it is much wilder than the Alps, nature is still to a certain extent unspoiled, it is not that much tourist friendly as the Alps, problems are different. The Carpathian Convention was signed in 2003 that is it is still much younger. It is difficult to compare the two, I would say, from the point of view of the philosophies they are pretty much the same although there are objective differences due to the physical differences of the countries which are associated to the Carpathian Convention. There are not always easy relations with Ukraine, which is member of the Carpathian Convention. I mean political relations are good, but cooperation on the territory requires long-standing trans-border cooperation, which is not part of every day life between Romania, Poland and Ukraine,” concluded Marco Onida, Secretary General of the Alpine Convention.


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