Unleashing the economic potential for sustainable development of the Dinaric Arc eco-region

After a couple of challenging decades, the countries of the Dinaric Arc are focusing again on cooperation. In light of EU accession as a strategic goal for most of its countries, they will work together to make use of the great potential in the region’s ecosystems to promote the creation of a corridor for sustainable developement in the Dinaric Arc region ‘Via Dinarica’ – a corridor passing through beautiful scenery, traditional villages and a wealth of cultural heritage, with an aim to attract tourists and to create employment for local people.

The ‘Via Dinarica’ initiative has an excellent chance to stimulate regional cooperation, to promote stability in the region and to secure local economic development through responsible planning and use of natural resources.

The first regional consultative meeting on ‘Via Dinarica’ was held in the pictoresque mountain town of Žabljak in Montenegro. The main goal was to create a basis for establishing of this corridor that should become one of the world’s top destinations.

Via Dinarica, new initiative for regional sustainable development

The meeting on ‘Via Dinarica’ was attended by representatives of the state institutions, mountain and biking associations and tourist businesses of four countries of the Dinaric region – Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. Participants supported the initiative and pledged themselves and their organizations to provide support to the initiative to create the ‘Via Dinarica’ corridor. At the meeting, among other things, the Alpine Convention was introduced, which was the basis for creating of similar – Via Alpina project stretching from Monaco to Slovenia.

The example of one of the longest trails in the world, Te Araroa, New Zealand was also presented. Hundreds of volunteers have helped create the continuous 3000 kilometre-long route. Te Araroa today stands as a bright example of regional authorities and local authorities cooperation to achieve a joint goal – Te Araroa to become a leading influence in their local and regional walking, cycling and local economic development strategies.

„Given the rapid growth in popularity of adventure tourism, as well as the enormous potential of this market and the role of tourism as one of the three major driving forces in the Montenegrin economy – and in line with the political commitment of representatives of governments of the Dinaric Arc states to cross-border cooperation – the UNDP Montenegro will continue to work on developing the concept of ‘Via Dinarica’coridor. As part of the initial activities during the next six months, in cooperation with partners, two more regional conferences will be organized aimed at strengthening of mutual understanding of the challenges and obtaining further support for this initiative,“ said Borko Vulikić, UNDP Montenegro Manager for sustainable development projects in protected areas.

In order to streamline towards sustainable economic growth based on low carbon emission and a better life for people in rural mountain communities, joint activities of the countries of the Dinaric region will be carried out through various cross-border partnerships and initiatives, as well as through various mechanisms and structures of the EU and the UN – such as the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and UNDP. The new initiative for cooperation in the Dinaric region is such an example.

The Dinaric Arc region covers about 100,000 km2 and more than 6,000 km of the Adriatic coast from Italy to Albania, including the mountainous parts of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro. Montenegro is one of signatories of the “Resolution on the protection and sustainable development of the Dinaric Arc and neighboring regions”, which should contribute to further development of the region by improving the eco-hiking trails and their impact on local development.