Apr 13, 2022
This co-design workshop brought together representatives from national and local quadruple helix actors, to discuss the future scenario for the development of the ‘RRI’ anchor initiative in Albania, in the Kune-Vain-Tale Lagoon. The anchor initiative aims to apply citizen science practices in evaluating ecosystem services of this protected area, in the context of increased vulnerability from climate change.
Location: Kune-Vain Lagoon, Lezhë; Hoteli i Gjuetisë
Organisers: Co-PLAN, Institut for Habitat Development; Ministry of Tourism and Environment
Who attended the event?
The event gathered 30 stakeholders, mainly from national, regional (prefecture level) and local governments; and representatives from academic institutions (both public and private); civil society organizations; and private sector (business owners and fishery subjects operating in the anchor location). The General Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism and Environment, the Head of the Regional Administration for Protected Areas, the Prefect of Lezhë Region, and the vice-mayor of the Municipality of Lezhë were also represented in this event, addressing the core issues of sustainability in the lagoon in the first part of the workshop.
What happened at the event?
The main objectives of this 1st workshop were to evidence and co-assess with the quadruple helix actors the problems and challenges of the sustainability of the Lagoon, to identify the aspects of key issues, as well as the ecosystem services of priority, to study in the Lagoon, to discuss the future of the Lagoon in the framework of climate changes and disasters and to finally vote and choose the most suitable future scenario.
Session 1: Setting the scene on the importance of RRI in ecosystem services, moderated by Elvana Ramaj
The first part of the workshop was dedicated to initial addresses by the core governmental representatives, integrating cross-sectoral points of view and common challenges in the management of the Kune-Vain-Tale Lagoon.
Firstly, Ms Ledina Beqiraj, General Secretary, Ministry of Tourism and Environment, made a short introduction about the Importance of the Ecosystem Services in Albania, and the RRI components to be taken into consideration when designing policies for protected areas.
Following, the Prefect of Lezha Region, Mr. Gjokë Jaku, underlined in his discussion the status of the protected area of Kune Vain, its regional importance and the opportunities set forth by the RAMSAR status.
Mr Ermal Pacaj, Deputy Mayor of the Municipality of Lezhë, addressed a series of benefits of the lagoon ecosystem at local level, including cultural/touristic aspects, as well as the major role in hindering the destructive impact of coastal floods and storms.
Following, the Director of RAPA Lezhë, Mr. Pjetër Toni, underlined the challenges in managing the lagoon on a daily basis and the need for future investment in the sector. He stressed the importance of scientific research to better address these challenges, and re-confirmed his institutions willingness to support and join the anchor initiative as pro-actively as possible.
Finally, Mr. Dritan Shutina, Executive Director of Co-PLAN, presented the overall framework of the WBC-RRI.net project and explained the anchor initiative in more detail to the representatives.
Session 2: Key Issues and Challenges of Sustainability in the Lagoon: Future Scenarios, moderated by Jak Gjini and Elvana Ramaj
The second session focused on the challenges for the long-term sustainable management of the lagoon.
Firstly, Ms. Kejt Dhrami and Mr Besmir Gëziqi discussed on the main ecosystem services that are provided in the lagoon (including fishery, waste water purification, biodiversity protection, reduction of flooding risk, etc); and the challenges faced in the framework of climate change.
Following, the participants were invited to share their own perception and experience on the issues of long-term sustainability and the emergence of anthropocentric and climate-related factors that may impact the resilience of the lagoon.
Ms. Elvana Ramaj later presented the Vision for the future development of the lagoon, as well as the Future Scenarios. The general vision for the development of the lagoon was presented, as formulated below:
“By 2024 climate change-related regional institutions will have enhanced R&I and STI capacities for evidence-based climate decisions on mitigation and adaptation, through mapping and assessing ecosystem services in the lagoon in relation to climate change risks and losses. Participatory mapping and assessment for citizen science, and the establishment of an online public platform for ecosystem mapping, shall have been co-created with and operated by the Regional Administration of Protected Areas (RAPA), ensuring RRI integration in the target territory.”
The scenarios and their characteristics were thoroughly explained, as follows:
Scenario 1 – Disaster-Prone Socio-Ecological System: Climate and Disaster Vulnerable Ecosystem & Low Climate Knowledge and Apathetic Society
- By 2024 the target of 1,5oC increase in global temperature is not met
- The process for EU accession and integration is pending
- Coastal erosion, mainly attributed to local geological features, is still present
- Carbon sequestration capacity from biomass is reduced
- Access to fresh water is limited for local residents.
- The water retention capacity of the lagoon and of the protected area has also reduced.
- Socio-economic disparities continue to be present and accentuate further
- Low technological transfer and use of ICT in the area, both at business and household level.
- No innovative ecological practices are present in the ‘anchor’ territory.
- The capacitating of local and regional institutions responsible for the lagoon management and climate mitigation and adaptation is slow.
- Scientific knowledge on a number of ecosystem services and climate mitigation practices is not diffused at community level, leading to a fragile R&I/S3 ecosystem and altogether too weak societal preparedness for disasters from climate effects.
- Research-oriented and academic institutions are not actively involved in the area in exchanging knowledge with institutions and communities.
Scenario 2 – Highly Resilient Socio-Ecological System: Climate and Disaster Resilient Ecosystem & Knowledgeable and Responsive Society
- EU integration is fully achieved and Albania is a Member State
- The targets for less than 1,5 oC increase in global temperature raise have been met.
- The ‘anchor’ territory has become part of Natura 2000.
- Coastal erosion has slowed down, particularly through introducing green infrastructures to protect the coast and the lagoon from floods.
- Sand dunes have been recreated with multi-annual revegetation practices developed on the dunes.
- The lagoon management plan has been drafted and approved.
- Mass restoration of planting of lagoon bed;
- Soil and vegetation restoration of buffer areas;
- Vegetation that protects from salinization (even agricultural land)
- Fisheries are managed in common and the respective practices are sustainable.
- Niche and sustainable agriculture is developed.
- Tourism is small-scale and place-based
- The national and regional S3 are approved and research innovation strategies are fully implemented,
- National and regional institutions are fully capacitated to deal with climate change adaptation and mitigation and risk,
- There is constant control and monitoring of species and water/soil quality.
- Scholarly values to extend knowledge about lagoon systems are more evident now and include scientific inquiry and historical study.
- The whole-of-society approach for disaster risk reduction and resilience building is applied
Scenario 3 – Ready for disaster: Climate and Disaster Vulnerable Ecosystem & Knowledgeable and Responsive Society
- The objectives of the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans (WBs) have not been met in Albania
- Albania has joined EU with integration fully in place, including the transposition of Chapter 27 on Environment.
- On a global level, by 2024, the target of limiting global warming to 1.5oC is not met
- Coastal erosion, mainly attributed to local geological features, is still present and advanced, doubling the effect of sea-level rise due to climate change.
- there are investments on dune restoration
- Carbon sequestration capacity from biomass is reduced
- The water retention capacity of the lagoon and of the protected area is reduced
- Floods and draughts cause salination and water evaporation
- The quadruple helix stakeholders are still working in 2024 to catch the pace of ecosystem changes
- Population emigration due to expected climate change impacts has already started signalling for massive displacement
- The will and readiness to invest in disaster preparedness is present in the political and institutional spectrum.
- Generally, there is unequal technological transfer and use of ICT in the area
- The sanitary septic tanks system is the most used in the area for wastewater management
- Fishery activities remain limited to licensed fishermen, through there are discussions at the level of local institutions to support commons in fisheries.
- National and regional institutions have gained good capacity to deal with climate change adaptation and mitigation and risk, due to intensive training and exchange
- Scientific knowledge on a number of ecosystem services and climate mitigation practices is diffused at community level.
- Research-oriented and academic institutions are actively involved in the area in exchanging knowledge with institutions and communities
Open discussion and voting on the most objective scenario
The representatives from academia shared their research conducted in support of ecosystems in the current and other lagoons in the country and expressed the commitment to engage in more open research. Representatives from governmental institutions acknowledged their role in making sure that the capacities for climate response are developed in line with national and international standards. Moreover, local residents (business owners) discussed on the importance of their sustainable practices to ensure longevity of their living and working activities inside or in the buffering area of the lagoon. Environmental experts from CSO-s underlined again that both governmental bodies and local residents need to develop further knowledge on the values of the lagoon ecosystem, in order to better manage and protect it.
After the discussion, the participants voted for the most desirable, and the most realistic future scenario. Unanimously, the participants voted for scenario 2: Highly resilient socio-ecological system as most desirable. The participants also voted for the most realistic scenario to be achieved by 2024, and they chose scenario 3: Ready for Disaster. With this choice, the participants re-confirmed their future role as main ‘stakeholders’ in the anchor location; and their engagement to use and manage the lagoon as a common pool resource, collectively and in line with environmentally ethical principles.
The activities supporting the achievement of the selected scenario will be co-designed at the second workshop to be organised on 21st of April.