Advancing Good Governance in Landscape Fire Management: The Landscape Fire Management in Western Balkans Programme Partners Attended the 8th International Wildland Fire Conference

The Landscape Fire Management in the Western Balkans (LFMWB) Programme partners had an opportunity to attend the 8th International Wildland Fire Conference (IWFC) held in Porto, Portugal from 15th to 19th May 2023. The attendance of the 18 LFMWB Programme partners at the 8th IWFC in Porto was organized by the Regional Executive Agency (REA-Farmahem) of the LFMWB Programme, financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). This conference has served as a crucial platform for the exchange of knowledge, networking, and collaboration among esteemed global experts in the field of landscape fire management. It symbolizes a significant milestone in the ongoing journey towards achieving effective landscape fire management practices. The LFMWB Programme aligns with the principles of good governance in this specific area, making the Programme partners' attendance at the conference even more significant. Aligned with the principles of good governance, the LFMWB Programme stands poised to implement the knowledge gained, share best practices, and collaborate with local and international stakeholders.

The conference, themed "Governance Principles: Towards an International Framework," brought together fire management experts, policymakers, scientists, and professionals from around the world. It focused on the development of governance principles and guidelines to address the impacts of environmental and socio-economic changes, as well as climate change, on fire regimes and wildfire risk management. Participants engaged in discussions regarding institutional arrangements, public policies, and integrated fire management approaches to mitigate the effects of wildfires on natural, cultural, and urban-industrial landscapes globally.

As a significant outcome of the conference, a document titled "Landscape Fire Governance Framework - Guiding Principles for Adjusting Strategies, Policies, and Management to Global Change" was prepared and discussed among experts and governmental and non-governmental institutions. The Framework, which highlights ecosystem-based solutions, stakeholder engagement, prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery, is intended to enhance governance in integrated fire management. The participants agreed to present the Framework to international and regional intergovernmental organizations, including the United Nations, for formal recognition and adoption.

The International Liaison Committee (ILC), as the steward of the International Wildland Fire Conferences, played a pivotal role in coordinating the development of a global statement for this conference. These statements have previously influenced important UN documents such as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Paris Climate Agreement. In line with this tradition, the ILC will continue to steward the Landscape Fire Governance Framework, with the aim of securing endorsements from relevant UN organs, including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), with the support of the Wildland Fire Advisory Group and the Global Wildland Fire Network.

During the conference, the LFMWB Programme partners had the opportunity to dive into an array of topics, engage in thought-provoking discussions, and learn from leading experts in the field. The knowledge gained through attending various sessions, workshops, and presentations has helped to enrich the LFMWB partners' understanding of landscape fire management. They were exposed to the latest research, technologies, and strategies aimed at mitigating wildfire risks, enhancing prevention and preparedness, and promoting effective response and recovery.

As part of the International cooperation session, Mr. Cvetan Nikolovski, the Team Leader of the LFMWB Programme, had a presentation titled “Landscape Fire Management in the Western Balkans – Joint Efforts for Regional Landscape Fire Resilience”. His captivating presentation shed light on the pressing challenges faced by the Western Balkans and emphasized the significance of collective efforts in landscape fire management. During his presentation, Mr. Cvetan Nikolovski highlighted the LFMWB Programme's commitment to promoting regional cooperation and its pivotal role in achieving landscape fire resilience. He shared valuable perspectives on effective landscape fire management approaches and innovative solutions that can be implemented at local, national, and regional levels.

The attendance of the LFMWB Programme partners at the 8th International Wildland Fire Conference holds great significance for the collaborative efforts in the region. By actively participating in this esteemed international conference, it was ensured that the LFMWB Programme remains connected to the international community of landscape fire management professionals, enabling the exchange of ideas, sharing experiences, and fostering partnerships that transcend geographical boundaries. This connection strengthens the collective capacity to tackle the complex challenges posed by landscape fires, working towards safer and more sustainable landscapes.

Moreover, the attendance at this conference has further enriched the knowledge and experience of the LFMWB Programme partners in landscape fire management. Inspired by the insights gained, they are committed to enhancing their contributions to the field. This commitment involves implementing the acquired insights, sharing best practices, and collaborating with local and international stakeholders to promote good governance and sustainable approaches to landscape fire management in the Western Balkans region. Armed with fresh perspectives, innovative approaches, and a renewed sense of determination, the experiences gained at the 8th International Wildland Fire Conference will fuel our collective efforts towards building resilient landscapes and safeguarding communities within the LFMWB Programme and the wider Western Balkans region.





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