The Fourth Transboundary meeting took place on 27 and 28 October in Struga, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The meeting was organised within the framework of the project “Towards Strengthened Governance of the Shared Transboundary Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Lake Ohrid Region”. A Transboundary Platform strengthens the synergies among the existing transboundary management structures, such as the Joint Secretary of the Watershed Management Committee for Lake Ohrid and ongoing initiatives such as the UNESCO Man and Biosphere designations, in order to enhance management of the Lake Ohrid region in the two countries.
Representatives from the Macedonian Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning, and the Ministry of Culture, representatives of the Albanian Ministry of Environment, and the Ministry of Culture, representatives of the Albanian National Agency on Protected Areas, members of the joint secretariat of the Transboundary Water Management Committee for Lake Ohrid, and Mayors from Struga and Pogradec as well as representatives from the local government of Ohrid participated in the meeting.
The participants agreed that the Lake Ohrid region project is being implemented satisfactorily and that all planned issues are being tackled within the project implementation. However, it has been agreed that the certain activities are to be accelerated in order to meet required deadlines. This is in particularly relevant for the finalization of the Management Plan and World Heritage Nomination Dossier for the area being proposed for extension.

Furthermore, the next steps of the project were discussed in order to ensure greater synergies and complementarity between the management plans for the existing World Heritage property and the proposed extension, and promote, where appropriate, a shared journey for implementation and evaluation processes:
-  Management structures must have operational and functional structure
-  Strengths and weaknesses of the Watershed Committee were discussed, the main concern regarding this committee is its non-functionality since the end of 2013 (no meetings took place since that time), inconsistency in its work and lack of permanent funding. Accordingly, two options were examined in order to ensure adequate management of the property once extended: Option 1 – Enhancement of the Watershed Committee, revitalization of the structure
Option 2 - Amendment to the 2004 Agreement, with definition of clear ToR’s for the body to manage trans-border issues of the extended property

It has been agreed that both countries will exchange the elaborated draft Management Plans, in order to ensure harmonization of actions for extended property. Accordingly, the theme of the 5th transboundary meeting should focus on harmonization of two plans in order to ensure operational structure capable to manage the joint property once inscribed.

The draft Management Plan for the property already inscribed to the World Heritage list, is being elaborated under leadership of the Ministry of Culture of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, but no comments on this plan were received from the municipality of Struga and National Park Galicica. It is strongly recommended that ministry resend request for submission of the comments by these two entities and ensure incorporation of their relevant inputs.

Participation of representatives of GiZ to the meeting was also welcomed, as well as their active engagement in the revitalization of the Watershed committee and structures of the Republic of Albania linked with the management of lakes Ohrid , Prespa and Skadar.

More information about the Lake Ohrid region project can be found at: whc.unesco.org/en/lake-ohrid-region/