The first ECF Regional Consultative Forum meeting was held on February 28th, 2017 at the Radisson Blue Iveria in Tbilisi, Georgia. The Forum is the key advisory body of the ECF where the relevant stakeholders provide input related to activities of the ECF, discuss wider institutional and policy-related topics, cooperation and collaborations. The Forum hosted 47 participants, including representatives of different governmental and non-governmental institutions, embassies, international donor organizations etc. The event was opened by the Minister of Environment of Georgia, who used this opportunity to sign the Memorandum of Understanding about ECF with WWF Caucasus Programme Office.
The agenda included:
statements by the representatives of the three Caucasus countries, Germany and the WWF
presentation of the overall approach of ECF
presentation of the success of the Financial Participatory Approach (FPA) and the landscape planning process in each pilot corridor country
discussion of the main methodological tools (FPA, landscape planning and conservation agreements) in interactive poster sessions (see below)
feedback and discussion with other conservation and rural development programmes
The event brought together people involved in the ECF or similar activities from all levels of involvement; from the donor and national ministries and partner institutions to the ECF team and the local communities involved in the programme. Many examples of the success of the Financial Participatory Approach were shared during the forum, highlighting the engagement of local communities in setting their own priorities and getting involved in participatory planning of conservation measures. This has confirmed the viability of combining conservation and rural development–the overall ECF approach. This same success was shared by the pilot conservation agreement in the Khachik Community in Armenia, which is in its final stages of negotiation and will be signed before the summer of 2017.