ECO KARST project has come to the successful ending and the Final conference was held in Postojna, Slovenia. Around 100 project partners, experts, academia, government officials, entrepreneurs and other stakeholders from 10 different countries gathered on this occasion. The event represented a perfect opportunity to discover synergies between nature conservation and sustainable local economic development in the karst areas of the entire Danube region. It included three main activities: Open Space Conference, ECO KARST fair of Pro Biodiversity businesses and field trip to discover a number of best practices within and outside of karst protected areas in Slovenia.
On the Arrival day, interested participants had the opportunity to visit the famous Postojna cave. For many participants, this was an extraordinary experience they will keep talk about for many days after the visit.
Open Space Conference*
On the second day of the event, all participants were drawn into an easy-flow and highly resourceful Open Space Conference area, where they discussed various topics relevant for the conservation of protected karst areas and future Pro Biodiversity business in protected areas. The purpose of the Conference was to present and develop future project ideas, search for new ideas or explore answers to burning questions, exchange experience and learn from others, share ideas with like-minded participants as well as to network with an interesting range of participants. Open Space Conference was guided by the 4 principles:
- Whoever comes are the right people
- Whenever it starts is the right time
- Whatever happens is the only thing that could have
- When it is over it is over
...and one Law: Law of Two Feet
The guiding question was: How can we support the growth of Pro Biodiversity Businesses in Protected Areas? The participants nominated 22 topics for discussion during the Conference. The most interesting topics were selected and participants exchanged knowledge, ideas and experience in the assigned spaces led by “initiators”.
Pro Biodiversity Fair
After this exciting and enriching experience at the Open Space Conference, a Pro Biodiversity Business Fair was organized. PBB awardees from 7 pilot areas presented their business and their products, starting from organic teas and natural cosmetics & rural guest house from Bosnia and Herzegovina to wine, spirits, jam and honey from Serbia, wooden products from Hungary and organic flour honey from Slovenia.
The second day finished with a visit to one of the UNESCO sites – Škocjan Caves Park. Participants had a chance to exchange good practices for park authorities and to take an afternoon walk on the educational trail, all the way to the great viewpoint!
On the last day of the Conference, participants visited the Touristic-informational Centre Sežana and enjoyed in the scents of various flowers and plants in the Botanical Gardens Sežana. After that, they explored the Living Museum of Kras by walking and cycling and finally made a stop for the picnic lunch at the Lipica Stud Farm. The Field trip was finished with the visit of Karst hostel, beekeeper, wine cellar and marigold workshop.
ECO KARST team celebrated success they made in these 2,5 years together with a farewell dinner in a relaxing atmosphere. The project manager, Mrs. Ana Bordjan emphasized how this project was a fantastic journey where so many creative, hard-working and genuine people met. She was extremely glad to see how people communicate with each other and make plans for cooperation in the future. At the end, Mrs. Bordjan wished everyone a success in all fields with a hope that the paths of project partners will cross again.
*Open Space Technology (OST) was developed by Harrison Owen in the 80’s. After a professional conference he had organized, he realised that the participants felt the best part of the conference were coffee breaks. The really important conversations happened “in between” the official program that was being prepared for two years. After the initial shock, he developed a meeting method where the coffee break became a key element. The secret of the success of the coffee break lies in the fact that people talk to those they enjoy talking to, about topics they care about and for as long as it’s interesting enough. OST is a method in which a simple, powerful structure provides a framework in which self-organising has been mastered to achieve impressive results.