Making an impact

November 25, 2011

REC hosts 2011 GA at Conference Center

THE YEAR IN REVIEW: REC Executive Director Marta Szigeti Bonifert summarises activities of the past year. Photos: Gabor Kardos

The 2011 General Assembly of the Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe (REC) convened on November 17-18 at the REC Conference Center in Szentendre, Hungary. The event opened on Thursday evening in memorable fashion, with Albania becoming the fourth country to sign the international agreement of the REC, with other countries signalling their enthusiasm to work towards doing the same in the near future. Thursday's proceedings also included: a recap of activities over the past year, summarised by REC Executive Director Marta Szigeti Bonifert; a presentation from Ecuador's Ambassador to Hungary about his country's inspirational Yasuni ITT initiative; and the unveiling of a photo exhibition of Slovenian natural wonders.

ALBANIA ON BOARD: GA member Mryvete Pazaj signs the international agreement.

Moments after introductory remarks from H. E. Istvan Horvath, General Director of the International Law Department of the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Albania signed the international agreement of the REC in the presence of all those assembled. Attaching her signature to the document was Albanian GA member Myrvete Pazaj, who said that she was "pleased" to have the honour. Several other REC countries followed an expression of intention to sign the agreement in the near future.

REC Executive Director Marta Szigeti Bonifert then reviewed a number of projects on a country-by-country basis that the REC has been involved in over the past year. The lively presentation included many photos and images of work taking place on the ground throughout Central and Eastern Europe.

The REC was privileged and pleased to welcome Ecuador's Ambassador to Hungary, , H. E. Jaime Augusto Barberis Martinez, who spoke about the innovative Yasuni ITT initiative, which is an international fund established so that Ecuador can allow significant oil reserves lying beneath a protected area to remain untapped for the foreseeable future. The Yasuni National Park is one of the most biologically diverse places on Earth, and is home to Waorani and other indiginous peoples who have preserved their original way of life. The fund has been established so that Ecuador, which has grown more dependent on oil exports for national revenue, will be able to function economically without being pressured to endanger this irreplacable natural treasure.

Slovenia's Ambassador to Hungary, H. E. Darja Bavdaz Kuret, ended the evening's official programme with the unveiling of a new poster exhibition of Slovenia's natural wonders. The posters remain on display at the REC Conference Center. Ambassador Kuret then invited delegates to enjoy a glass of Slovenian wine before convening for a dinner and reception.

The GA was attended by just over 50 participants from 27 countries, plus the REC Board of Directors, REC Country Office directors and staff from REC Head Office. The REC GA concluded the following day, November 19, with a round of internal disussions and consultations with the GA on the Work Plan for 2012, which will focus on continuing efforts to make further progress towards delivering on strategic goals to be achieved in the coming year.