Black Sea Outlook Conference Odessa 2011
The Third Bi-annual Black Sea Scientific Conference and Upgrade Black Sea Scene Project joint event was held in Odessa, Ukraine 1-4 November 2011. The events supported by the project included also Black Sea Day celebrations with round table on October 31, 2011. The round table brought together eminent scientists and representatives of the national and regional government of Ukraine, the Secretariat of the Black Sea Commission and the European Union, as well as numerous representatives of the public. Regional environmental policy and integrated maritime policy were discussed along with the prospects for the development of cooperation across national borders. Black Sea Medals for exclusive achievements and contribution to Black Sea science and environmental protection were awarded to scientists and experts from the six coastal countries.
European Fish Week
The Institute of Fish Resources and Aquarium — Varna in cooperation with the Black Sea NGO Network marked the European Fish Week 2011 and World Ocean Day 8 June with open doors and public discussion on important aspects of the environmental health of the Ocean and the Black Sea and their fisheries. With strong media support, the partners addressed the public stressing on the significance of joint efforts and policy measures to halt the degradation of the marine environment and its resources. Several thematic spots during the day addressed issues of sustainable use of seas and oceans, climate change, marine biodiversity conservation and the reform in the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and the effort to halt overfishing and end destructive fishing practices thus making a fair and equitable use of healthy fish stocks.
For an overview of the event in Bulgaria
For an overview of events during the European Fish Week: www.ocean2012.eu/europeanfishweek
In 2011 the annual European Maritime Day Stakeholder Conference will be held in the Polish city of Gdańsk from 19 to 20 May, at the Philharmonic’s Music and Congress Centre on the Ołowianka Isle (www.filharmonia.gda.pl). The conference is co-organised by the European Commission's Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Ministry of Infrastructure of Poland, Office of the Marshal of the Pomorskie Voivodeship, and the City of Gdańsk.
The Maritime Day Conference will be an occasion to reflect, at high level, on cross-sectional themes and policies affecting the seas and coasts. The participants will be looking at how Sea Basin strategies have developed so far, focusing in particular on the Baltic. The ecosystem approach and how its practical application will influence human activities is another key theme, alongside a discussion of how maritime regions are drivers of growth and jobs. Additionally, the challenge of reconciling economically sustainable transport and port infrastructure in the context of climate change is also considered.
Good governance in the Black Sea region
The Black Sea NGO Network (BSNN), Bulgaria and partners held an expert meeting in November 2010 within the project ‘Regional Exchange of Best Practices in Influencing the Public Sector’, supported by the Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation. The project is implemented in Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine.
It involves six NGOs from each country acting as facilitators of an exchange of best practices in good governance. The partners have held a regional expert meeting to identify best practices on national level and six in-country meetings with NGOs to collect more information and provide input for a regional website of case studies of influence on public sector policies. The partners will adopt a communication mechanism on how to agree on providing support to campaigns and initiatives on national or cross-border level.
The regional expert meeting was entitled ‘Best Practices for Good Governance: towards Sustainability in the Black Sea Region’. The event was attended by representatives of NGOs and independent activists of the third sector and the media, as well as by experts and associates of the BSNN.
Award for access to information
Black Sea NGO Network received a honorary award for contribution in the field of freedom of information on the Right to Know Day, 28 September 2010. The selection of nominees and the Awards Ceremony was organised by the Access to Information Programme. The award was bestowed for active use of the Law for access to public information and popularisation of the freedom of information in active cooperation with media and journalists in the course of investigations. Additional information about Right to Know Day and the ceremony can be seen at: www.righttoknowday.net.
Upgrade Black Sea Scene
The UP-GRADE BS-SCENE project funded by the FP7 EU (2009–2011) in its second year focused on the development and extension of the existing research infrastructure (www.blackseascene.net) of marine environmental institutes and organisations from the Black Sea countries. Among the principal objectives of the project are: to implement common communication standards and adapted technologies to ensure the interoperability of data centres around the Black Sea; to network the existing and new Black Sea data centres, active in data collection, and provide integrated databases of standardised quality online; to realize and improve online access to in situ and remote sensing data, metadata and products; to adopt standardised methodologies for data quality checking to ensure the quality, compatibility and coherence of the data generated and issued by many different sources.
The fourth project meeting was organized by the subcontractor of MARIS and took place in Istanbul Turkey from 24 to 26 November 2010. The 4th meeting was combined with the 2nd meeting of the Advisory Board. Overall a very good progress of activities was presented by partners and actions were formulated for acceleration of activities for the final 3rd year of the project in order to achieve all targets.
Upgrade Black Sea SCENE is a project aimed at developing the research infrastructure of marine environmental institutes and organisations from the Black Sea countries. It started in 2009 and is running until 2011 (www.blackseascene.net). The project is funded by the EU Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) for research. Upgrade Black Sea SCENE builds upon the successful experience of its predecessor Black Sea SCENE, adding 19 new organisations to reach a total of 51 partners. Among the principal objectives of the project are: to implement common communication standards and adapted technologies to ensure the interoperability of data centres around the Black Sea; to network the existing and new Black Sea data centres, active in data collection, and provide integrated databases of standardised quality online; to realize and improve online access to in situ and remote sensing data, metadata and products; to adopt standardised methodologies for data quality checking to ensure the quality, compatibility and coherence of the data generated and issued by many different sources.
A substantial amount of data is already available through the Black Sea Common Data Index version 1 (CDI V1) data access service which contains currently more than 90 000 individual entries. In the coming months additional data centres from the network will further populate the CDI metadatabase and other institutes will be encouraged to participate. The data services are aimed to make Black Sea scientific information and data more easily accessible for scientists and the general public in order to be better informed and prepared to approach issues related to the sea.
Farewell to Dan Manoleli
Dan Manoleli (first L) at a meeting of the European Seas Environmental Cooperation (ESEC) coalition, Rome, 2009
The international Black Sea scientific community and civil society in Romania and the region have lost a renowned member and leader, Professor Dr. Dan Gabriel Manoleli (1942—2010), chairman of the Black Sea NGO Network. We are all saddened by the passing of one of our most eminent activists. A distinguished academic, marine biologist and environmental management expert, he contributed in a pioneering way to the development of civil society across the borders.
We can think of no greater tribute to Dan than to carry on the work to which he dedicated so much time and effort: protection of nature and the Black Sea for the benefit of all people in the region. Thus, he lives on in our hearts and, through our efforts, the work he began will also live on.
Marine Biogeographical Meeting
The third Natura 2000 marine seminar was held in Brindisi, Italy from the 15th to the 18th of June 2010, to examine site proposals covering three marine areas: the Black Sea, Mediterranean and Macaronesia. The seminar was spread over three days with each day being devoted to one of the regions. It has become clear that all Member States have further work to do before the marine Natura 2000 network will be complete. The event was organised by the team from the Torre Guaceto Marine Protected Area with the support of the Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea. The Black Sea NGO Network coordinated the provision of information and NGO participation of representatives of Bulgaria and Romania in the seminar. The designation of sites suitable for marine protected areas in the Black Sea is likely to take some time and needs considerable resources.
Third European Maritime Day
The third edition of the European Maritime Day, co-organised by the European Commission, the Spanish Presidency of the European Union and the Government of the Principality of Asturias, was held in Gijón on 18-21 May 2010. The representative of the Black Sea NGO Network attended some stakeholder events and took part in the European Seas Environmental Cooperation (ESEC) 2010 meeting focusing on the Maine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) implementation process. The discussion addressed the progress and outcomes of the MSFD implementation process and how NGOs could drive the future implementation work defining activities and strategies for future cooperation.
As the criteria and methodological standards have already been agreed, attention must be focused on the process of determining Good Environmental Status (GES) and setting environmental targets. These will be very important as drivers of the programmes of measures. As the measures will reflect the nature of the targets, NGOs must keep pressure on national governments in order to achieve strong and ambitious targets. The biggest danger is that these may reflect the status quo or economic considerations.
A big public campaign to prevent Russian government plans to destroy unique pristine nature in the Black Sea coastal nature reserve Utrish is under way in Russia and Ukraine. Citizens and green activists from the coastal places protest against the construction of a big holiday complex in the Utrish Lagoons area, close to Anapa and Novorossisk. The local citizens have not been admitted to the public hearings of plans for what is going to be yet another special government residence in a place where nature should be preserved for all the people. Yet another controversial project is targeted by the campaigners, the construction of a road through the Utrish reserve and the destruction of large areas with Red Data Book tree species. The Environmental Watch of Northern Caucasus has been very active in the campaigning and challenged the construction projects in court. To support the appeal of the Russian President to save Utrish visit www.save-utrish.ru
Black Sea Day 2009
The regional NGO community and the wider public celebrated International Black Sea Day 2009 with various public awareness events. Despite the bad weather young people and green activists held the traditional clean ups of beaches along the coast. School exhibitions dedicated to the Black Sea environment and educational events were held as well. Mare Nostrum, Romania held a photography competition ‘The Black Sea through You Perspective’. The Black Sea NGO Network conducted its seventh media competition dedicated to International Black Sea Day.
Bulgarian and Romanian NGO activists, municipal officials, business and media representatives held a round table to discuss good practices in democratic governance. The event took place in Varna on 11—12 September 2009 and was hosted by the BSNN. It was part of the project “Initiative for Effective Citizens’ Control on Governments: Practical Aspects of Transparency, Accountability and Efficiency” supported by USAID and Bulgaria Fund of the BTD/GMF. An exchange of good practices was accomplished between experts of the two countries. NGO activists, volunteers and journalists have improved competence to review the cross-border aspects of good governance. The project has improved the visibility of good governance issue in media and society. More information about the project in English is available at www.bsnn.org/bulgariafund/. The information and publications in Bulgarian are at www.bsnn.org/bg/bulgariafund/. An informal network of experts in the two countries continues the exchange on good governance issues.
The regional Black Sea NGO community with support from the ECBSea Project (www.ecbsea.org) prepared two political documents that were presented at the Ministerial Meeting/Diplomatic Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Convention on the Protection of the Black Sea against Pollution in the Bulgarian capital Sofia on 17 April 2009.
The set of documents comprised an NGO Statement and Recommendations to the National Governments of the Contracting Parties to the Convention and to the national governments of the Black Sea basin countries. The two analytical items, adopted at a regional workshop in Kyiv in March 2009, were presented at the Conference by the coordinator of the Black Sea NGO Network. The statement voiced the concern of civil society and the regional public about the future of the Black Sea environment. It urged the Contracting Parties and the national governments of the Black Sea basin countries to enhance their cooperation for the protection of the environment and the development of the region.
The NGO statement clearly focused on the need to reform the Black Sea regulatory instruments and to ensure their effective enforcement on national and regional level, as well as the promotion of regional and cross-border cooperation. It put a special emphasis on the need to amend the Convention in order to allow the accession of regional economic integration organizations, like the EU.
Exchange of expertise
The European Seas Environmental Cooperation, a coalition of regional seas environmental networks, has invited the Black Sea NGO Network to be involved in the process of EU maritime policy. The representatives of Romania and Bulgaria received expert support about work on the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, the EU Maritime Policy review and the reform of the EU Common fisheries Policy. A meeting of the coalition was held on the European Maritime Day 21 May back to back with the stakeholder conference. The ESEC coalition includes also Coalition Clean Baltic, the Mediterranean Information Office for Environment, Culture and Sustainable Development, and Seas at Risk.
Black Sea SCENE
A sustainable Internet-based service — BlackSeaScene InfoNet — is now available as part of the Black Sea SCENE project, a regional research infrastructure coordinated action in the EU Sixth Framework Programme FP6. Scientists, decision makers, industries, environmental NGOs and other stakeholders, as well as the public in the Black Sea countries are now in a position to be better informed and better prepared to approach issues related to the Black Sea.
The 25 project partners, in the course of the final project year, developed a number of products mainly catalogues but also tools to support the research in and around the Black Sea. The products are closely related to those within SeaDataNet, but are developed by the Black Sea SCENE partners specifically for Black Sea SCENE purposes. They cover search applications of catalogues with Datasets, Projects, Scientists, Reports, a DQC inventory etc. Users of the research infrastructure will be able to manage and to operate central indices and database of information on the Black Sea hosted by institutes around it. The service will also facilitate harmonization in quality and formats, storing and retrieving of Black Sea information for use by Black Sea SCENE partners, scientific users and the public.
The information service will be maintained and updated with newly acquired information from the partners as part of a long-term service agreement. The technical hosting of the services will be maintained to extend the impact of the system. Black Sea SCENE will be upgraded within the EU FP7.
Effective citizens’ control on governments
A project aiming to support effective citizens’ control on governments is implemented by the BSNN in North-eastern Bulgaria and involves also partners from two Romanian counties — Constanta and Galati. The project envisages involving NGOs and media in educational training and two practical modules of learning (‘Secret client’ and Access to information) about measures ensuring transparency and accountability of governments and the establishment of sustainable partnerships.
European Seas Environmental Cooperation
Seas At Risk, the association of environmental organisations concerned with the marine environment of the North East Atlantic and wider European seas, organised, in September 2008, a meeting with sister NGO networks that work for the protection of Europe's regional seas: Coalition Clean Baltic, the Black Sea NGO Network, and the Mediterranean Information Office for Environment, Culture and Sustainable Development. The participants discussed the challenges and opportunities posed by the Maritime Policy of the EU and its environmental pillar, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. All NGO networks agreed that these should be the focus of their work in the coming years, and two representatives of the European Commission (from DG Mare and DG Environment) have emphasised the value of NGO input to both processes. To enhance the effectiveness of future work, the networks have jointly decided to cooperate under the heading of European Seas Environmental Cooperation (ESEC). The aim of the coordinated action is to avoid duplication of efforts and ensure quick dissemination of information at various levels, through a single focal point, which will reach the NGOs in the four networks and all of their members, and simultaneously convey their concerns and input to the European Commission.
Time to meet!
From 31 October to 2 November 2008 in Bucharest, the Federation of Romanian Development NGOs (FOND) organised a prestigious NGO event entitled the Black Sea NGO Forum: “Time to meet!”. It strives to start an annual tradition of bringing together over a hundred NGOs from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Moldova, Turkey, Ukraine, Romania, Russia, and other EU member states active in the wider Black Sea region. The event has been organised in cooperation with organisations from Georgia, Moldova and Russia, and in partnership with the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation and UNDP Romania. The aim of the event was to increase the level of dialogue and coordination among NGOs in the wider Black Sea region as well as to strengthen the advocacy capacity of NGOs in the Black Sea region in order to influence development strategies in the region. Three panels focused on a cross-cutting issue “Challenges and opportunities for NGO cooperation in the Black Sea region”, with presentations and discussions of the state of affairs in three broad fields: social justice and human rights, democracy and good governance and environment.
Twelfth Anniversary of Black Sea Action Day
October 31, 2008 marked the twelfth International Black Sea Action Day — a time to focus attention, within the framework of the ongoing efforts of governments and international institutions, on the urgent need for concerted action to restore and preserve the unique environment of this remarkable water body.
The day commemorates twelve years since representatives from all countries that border on the Black Sea — Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine — signed the Strategic Action Plan for the Rehabilitation and Protection of the Black Sea. The Plan forms a comprehensive guide for practical work to bring about real improvements to the sea’s dramatic deterioration.
A sustainable future for the Black Sea is only possible if the population of its drainage basin is aware of its role as a polluter and joins common efforts for pollution prevention and restoration of the environment. The International Black Sea Day is part of that process.
… in Varna
School children from the Varna Municipal Educational Complex celebrated International Black Sea Day October 31 by staging a procession from the city center to the beach and cleaned 400 m of the coast line. The sections Earth and Space Science and Civic Education involved over 80 participants in practical educational activities like outlining the contours of the Black Sea and the state borders of the six coastal states, discussing its environmental state and future.
… and in Taganrog
The Sailing Academy NGO of Taganrog, Russia does a lot of environmental education and awareness raising among school children. Usually it implements water quality monitoring projects in the run up to International Black Sea Action Day. In summer the NGO experts support environmental education activities in holiday camps.
Black Sea Youth Leaders Conference
A project made possible by the assistance of the Open Society Institute East-East Programme brought together over 40 NGO activists from Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and Moldova in the Black Sea Youth Leaders Conference held 15 —18 September 2006 in Varna, Bulgaria. Its goal was to encourage the young people from the Black Sea countries to perform the role of active citizens and to contribute to saving the Black Sea on the basis of international agreements, the activities of existing NGO networks and NGO expertise in public participation in decision making on environmental issues. As a specific topic the participants addressed the issue of youth capacity building in view of EU enlargement. They focused on the establishment of a youth network with joint planning and networking activities, as well as project preparation in view of the ongoing Black Sea Ecosystem Recovery Project — Phase 2.
Archive 2003—2006 is available on request