UNIDO and FAO kick off local consultations on Blue Economy Country Programme
- The Blue Economic Programme's vision and objectives are expected to reflect the respective national and EU policies and SDGs
The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), started this week consultation meetings regarding the contribution program of UN agencies to the Albanian Government from the preparation phase of the final draft of the Blue Economy Program in the Country.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Roland Kristo, presented the national strategy on development fisheries and aquaculture sector objectives in the short and long term and stressed the importance of efficiency capacities in marine aquaculture and artisanal sector. "We are working in the preparation and approval of regulations regarding data collection and starting a necessary work to reactivate the vessel monitoring system. The artisanal sector remained a sensitive sector for the government. With EU support, Albania is at the final stage to support fisheries organizations and cooperatives", said Mr. Kristo. Further, he added that the sector needs skills development, limited fishery resources in the Mediterranean Sea, and needs for ecosystem' management to challenge climate change.
The actors emphasized the Blue Economic program's aim for identifying the immediate interventions among all parties involved as a cross-cutting sector, which offers a lot of potential for the country's future economic development. The experts and the representative from the private sector addressed the immediate needs for capacity building, emphasized the lack of professional fisheries, skills development in terms of Vocational and Educational Training programs in the country, and increasing the incentives for the young entrepreneurs, establishing of start-ups in terms of career, and supporting women working in fisheries and aquaculture sector. The private sector representative emphasized the need for regional cooperation and a voice in development strategy, ensuring sustainable growth and enlarging the market through regional cooperation. Value-added processing, competition, social inclusion, financial support, grouping to the clusters to develop a pilot project for cluster sector in the fishing industry to improve competitiveness in inland fishing and freshwater aquaculture were some of the issues struggling the private sector.
UNIDO Country Coordinator, Ms. Elvana Zhezha, and Assistant FAO Representative for Albania Mr. Arben Kipi expressed the support of the UN agencies to the Albanian Government through their programs in Albania, with specific interventions in the future Blue Economy Country Programme focused on standards and quality priorities, analysis and specific program in Albania, based on data collection and processing industry to enlarge the access of Albanian producers in EU markets as well. The international experts from UNIDO pointed out the region's tendency in terms of their blue economy, not more increasing in scale but quality, the role of sustainability certification becoming a defacto market requirement. This could increase the sector and adding more value to natural resources. Ecommerce and access to EU Market, financial support for investments in processing industries, regional cooperation, including GFCM and EEFCA cooperation, were the crucial issues discussed in the meeting.
The meeting involved proactive interventions from all the participants who expressed the consultations' role in identifying the fishery and aquaculture sector's long-term goals in Albania. The meeting highlighted as the main challenges in the sustainable and competitive sector are closely linked to standards and qualities, incentives as new investments, financial support due to the pandemic situation, and finding innovative solutions. During December, the consultations prioritized engaging the local stakeholders and the respective international and national key experts to prepare and introduce a new component in the current country program of the Blue Economic draft. Further, the new component will tackle the country's needs to developing the Fisheries & Aquaculture sector.
About the Blue Economy Country Programme
The Blue Economy program funded by Norway and the Government of Albania is a higher priority of the government. The latter has started the drafting of the National Development Programme on Blue Economy. The draft document was presented to donors and partners at the end of October 2020 for further comments and technical contributions. The Blue Economic Programme's vision and objectives are expected to reflect the respective national and EU policies and SDGs.
Inland fisheries and freshwater resources are vital for rural communities and contribute to aquatic biodiversity. The programme considers including inland capture fisheries and freshwater aquaculture needs within this program's scope, especially within any national fisheries strategy. There is a need for improved infrastructure and education to promote the development of freshwater aquaculture.