The World Bank approved the implementation of a Natural Resources Development Project for Albania. The project is funded by a grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Trust Fund of US$5.0 million, with expected contributions from other co-financiers (an IDA credit of US$7.0, and a grant of US$5.2 million from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency) and the project beneficiary, Albania, (US$2.2 million) of about US$14.4 million equivalent.
The project’s development objective is to establish or maintain sustainable, community-based natural resource management in about 218 communes in upland and mountainous erosion-prone lands. This will lead to enhanced productivity and incomes derived from sustainable resource management, reduced soil degradation, improved water management, conservation of biodiversity, and strengthened public sector management of these resources. The project contributes to two key pillars of the government’s National Strategy for Socio-Economic Development: improved governance, and strong economic growth and poverty reduction.
The project’s global environmental objective is to reverse the severe degradation of upland and mountainous erosion-prone lands, and sediment runoff to the Adriatic Sea, through rehabilitating and sustainably managing natural resources, including globally significant biodiversity.
Task Team Leader John Fraser Stewart emphasizes that „rehabilitation and sustainable management of natural resources is key to improving the productivity and incomes in the Albanian upland areas, where poverty is mostly concentrated. Based on the successful experiences of communal forestry gained under the Albania Forestry Project, and community level microcatchment that has been introduced through World Bank projects in a number of countries in the region, the NRDP will improve productivity in the rural mountainous areas and contribute to overall poverty reduction and sustainable economic growth.“
The project will support improved management and governance of forests and pastures to strengthen participatory communal forest and pasture management in communes that were supported under the Albania Forestry Project (AFP); it will introduce participatory communal forest and pasture management in additional communes that were not supported under the AFP, and implement capacity-building measures and priority actions to improve the governance of forest and pasture resources. It will also, among other things, support improved management and governance of watersheds to pilot in 30 communes an integrated and multi-sectoral approach to planning and management of natural resources at the level of micro-catchments in three of Albania’s seven watersheds.
The Global Environment Facility (GEF) is a mechanism for providing new and additional grant and concessional funding to meet the agreed incremental costs of measures to achieve agreed global environmental benefits in the four focal areas – Climate change; Biological diversity; International waters; and Ozone layer depletion. GEF also supports the work of the global agreements to combat desertification and eliminate persistent organic pollutants.
The World Bank Group is one of GEF’s implementing agencies and supports countries in preparing GEF co-financed projects and supervises their implementation. It plays the primary role in ensuring the development and management of investment projects. The Bank draws upon its investment experience in eligible countries to promote investment opportunities and to mobilize private sector, bilateral, multilateral, and other government and non-government sector resources that are consistent with GEF objectives and national sustainable development strategies.
Since 1991, the World Bank Group has committed $1.972 billion in GEF resources and $3.037 billion in Bank group co-financing for GEF projects in 80 countries. In addition to GEF and Bank resources, it has mobilized additional co-financing of $6.952 billion from other donors.