The week of August 2 to 7, the BeMed team went to Albania. A very busy week that allowed us to meet many actors committed against plastic pollution!
Day 1 – Tirana: In collaboration with Surfrider Foundation Europe and IUCN, we had the pleasure to organize a conference on the actions in progress to reduce plastic pollution, especially in Albania, and on the importance of data collection in the Mediterranean through participatory science. It was an opportunity for us to present the latest figures on the state of plastic pollution in the Mediterranean, to better understand Albania’s commitment to plastic pollution prevention within the Ministry of Environment and Tourism but also in civil society, to share BeMed’s experience in its Business Club and to demonstrate the Plastic Origins application and the methodologies of the Ocean Initiatives carried by Surfrider.
In the afternoon, Albanian stakeholders shared their experiences with the teams of BeMed, Surfrider and IUCN in order to take stock of the gaps, needs and strengths of these actors to fight effectively against plastic pollution. Stakeholders stressed the importance of ” give something to receive something” (Daniel Ferko, Doctor Vet in Community) and engaging stakeholders, reconnecting the public with nature to strengthen their willingness to protect it, and working with government.
Day 2 – Buna River: Surfrider Foundation Europe organised a kayak data collection with local partners using the Plastic Origins application. This project carried by citizens, associations, scientists and responsible companies aims to identify the sources of pollution in rivers. As a reminder, 80% of the waste we find in the sea comes from the land environment!
Day 3 – Vlora: Accompanied by Mr. Kastriot Korro, head of the initiative ‘Together for zero plastics in 10 Albanian Islands’ and director of the Royal Albania Foundation, we met with the director of the Protected Areas Agency (RAPA) Vlora, Ms. Lorela Lazaj and Ms. Tatjana Mehillaj, an expert in environmental rights, who summarised the results of the cooperation between RAF and RAPA Vlora within the framework of the BeMed supported project. Mr Nexhip Hysenlakoj, expert from RAPA Vlora, also described the main factors of pollution in the islands of Albania and the role of the different regional agencies for their protection. A time of exchange with the representatives of the municipality of Vlora, the president of the association Flag Pine, and the president of the fishing federation allowed us to measure the importance of the multi-actor collaboration in the construction of a new ten-year plan for waste management.
Day 4 – Lezha: Last day in Albania for BeMed. This time we took the road north towards the nature reserve of Kune Vain Tale, at the mouth of 2 rivers, where we meet the teams of RAPA Lezha. The director of RAPA Lezha, Mr Pieter Toni, and the public relations manager, Ms Besiona Simoni, welcomed us and presented the activities implemented on the island of Lezha in collaboration with the Royal Albania Foundation and with the support of BeMed. A boat tour of the reserve with representatives of RAPA Lezha and fishermen associations allowed us to use again the Plastic Origins application to map the plastic pollution of the reserve.