The genesis of the Convention

P1120737 kadr 2 Photo: Zbigniew Niewiadomski, UNEP/GRID-Warsaw Centre

Adoption of the Carpathian Convention in 2003 was preceded by a series of initiatives by self-governments, academia and non-governmental organizations from the Carpathian region. Initially, initiatives for the protection and sustainable development of the Carpathians had limited geographic coverage - national or transboundary (bilateral or trilateral cooperation). Later such initiatives gained the macro-regional character and support of the Carpathian governments and international organizations.


The “Kraków Protocol” signed on 6 May 1924, annexed to the Government Statement of 19 December 1925 (Dz.U. R.P. 1925, vol. 133, item 952) can be considered as the first bilateral initiative. 

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The subject of the Kraków Protocol was the settlement of border issues between Poland and Czechoslovakia, in accordance with the recommendation of the League of Nations (tasks of which were in 1946 taken over by the United Nations).

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However, the Protocol also included bilaterally agreed recommendation for “concluding, as soon as possible” two Conventions concerning border areas of the two countries: (a) on the development of tourism, and (b) on the protection of cultural heritage, nature and landscape.

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The designation of the world's first transboundary protected area (Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park) on the border between the United States and Canada (on the basis of the convention mentioned in the Kraków Protocol of 1924) was officially announced on 16 June 1932. Only a month later in the Carpathians (on 17 July 1932) the opening of the first European (and the world's 2nd after Waterton-Glacier) "international nature park", consisting of a national park on the Polish side and the nature reserve on the Slovak side, both established in 1932 in Pieniny Mts., was jointly celebrated in Szczawnica (PL) and Červený Kláštor (SK).


Another similar initiative was the proposal to nominate a trilateral biosphere reserve in the Carpathians, formulated by the Polish delegation to the conference of the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme in May 1990 in Kyiv. A relevant agreement of environment ministers of Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine was signed in September 1991. Was signed relevant agreements Polish, Slovakia and Ukraine. Initially, in November 1992 the transboundary status was awarded solely to the bilateral Polish-Slovak BR "Eastern Carpathians / Eastern Beskid." In December 1998 the UNESCO-MaB Programme nominated the world's first trilateral transboundary biosphere reserve East Carpathians.


More information on the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) 


In January 1994 the first informal association of non-governmental environmental groups operating in the Polish-Slovak-Ukrainian borderland (International Carpathian Bridge) emerged.


On 18-19 June 1997 in Warsaw the Environment Protection Commission of the Senate met under the motto “Carpathians Unite”, with participation of foreign guests. During the meeting, the Polish Minister of Environment Protection presented a report on the state of nature and the environment of the Carpathians.


On 24-28 February 1998 an international conference The Green Backbone of the Central and East Europe was held in Kraków, with participation of representatives of other Carpathian countries, and of the European Commission.


In 1999 the Carpathian Ecoregion Initiative (CEI) was established, brings together some 50 organizations from six Carpathian countries, supported by the WWF. Results of this initiative include publishing the first joint report The State of the Carpathians on the protection of natural resources and development challenges of the region, and convening the Carpathian-Danube Summit in April 2001 in Bucharest.


One of the results of the project implemented with the participation of approx. 150 representatives of the Carpathian municipalities and environmental organizations from Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine was the Carpathian Memorial Declaration adopted in November 2000 in Nowy Sącz, developed by the thematic working groups on cultural and natural diversity, transboundary cooperation, tourism and agriculture, and integrated management of the Carpathian environment.


In January 2001 the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources of Ukraine requested the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to facilitate international consultations on the possibility of adopting a special international agreement on the protection and sustainable development of the Carpathians.


On 29-30 April 2001 the Carpathian-Danube Summit (Green Light for Europe - Summit on Environment and Sustainable Development in the Carpathian and Danube Region) was convened in Bucharest (Romania), gathering Heads and representatives of fourteen countries. The final document Declaration on Environment and Sustainable Development in the Carpathian and Danube Region allowed the official proceeding towards the proposed multilateral agreements for the Carpathian region.


More information on the further development of the Carpathian Convention available at the Convention website.