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Network of STRAits (NOSTRA)
Start date: Dec 31, 2011, End date: Dec 30, 2014 PROJECT  FINISHED 

In November 2010, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between 15 local authorities and organisations bordering 8 European straits: the Strait of Dover, the Strait of Messina, the Kvarken, the Strait of Sicily, the Gulf of Finland, the Strait of Otranto, the Fehmarnbelt and the Strait of Bonifacio. This MoU defines two main objectives for the partnership: gaining recognition of the European straits' specificities at national and European levels and enhancing cooperation projects between the partners.Indeed, the straits of Europe share several common issues (transport, economic development, maritime safety…), which all have an impact on the natural heritage of the straits. The partners have thus decided to exchange experience in order to be able to implement more efficient and environment-friendly policies at strait level.NOSTRA aims at showing how integrated governance tools (bi-national ones) can help improving the way strait areas are managed.In particular, the objective is to ensure the economic development of the territory without endangering the biodiversity and environment. The preservation of biodiversity was identified as the nodal point of all issues straits have to face. Moreover, it is foreseen that an integrated management of the area is the proper answer to most problems faced by the local authorities bordering the straits.In this framework, 16 partners bordering 8 straits of Europe have joined in the partnership in order to share experience, good practices and analyse the governance tools already implemented or in project. This will be done through several events such as study visits, workshops, seminars, forums and conferences.The results of the activities will be widely shared at local level thanks to the organisation of regular territorial meetings with local stakeholders.Those meetings will also be opportunities to identify good practices and know the local actors expectations. This will thus ensure a proper top-down and bottom-up approach.The communication will also be done through a website, flyers and a good practices and policy recommendations guide.Besides, all partners will prepare implementation plans in which they will explain what type of practices they will use and implement at local and strait level and how. This should enable the partners to directly benefit from the project by adapting their own policies according to the knowledge gained.Another aim of the project is to bring a contribution to the improvement of the European policies regarding the straits governance.NOSTRA will also enhance the European Straits Initiative (ESI) which will be able to lean its influence actions on concrete basis. The project might also enable the ESI to widen its partnership to other straits. Achievements: On the 3rd April 2012 the launching conference of the project was organised in Wimille in Pas-de-Calais (France). The event was an opportunity to present the objectives and the 16 partners of the project. Local stakeholders debated during a round table on the topic of "cross-border governance straits: a solution to preserve biodiversity and natural heritage". Moreover, the political representatives of the partners signed at the end of the meeting the partnership agreement for the implementation of the project. From 4th to 7th June 2012, the 16 partners of the NOSTRA project organised the first study visit in Kvarken Council. The study visit program was designed in order to give the delegates an insight into several important aspects of the Kvarken Region such as transport and logistics, nature, natural heritage, local and regional governance... The partners had the opportunity to learn about the functioning of the Kvarken Council, which is a cross-border governance tool launched in 1972, bringing together the communities along both sides of the strait. This crossboundary binational organisation have been considered as a good practice to be investigated by the partners of the project since it insures a high degree of coordination between the different local political fora on both sides of the straits. Among other things, the partners also discovered the Kvarken Archipelago World Heritage, the story of its recognition and its management. The High Coast and the Kvarken Archipelago together form one of very few transnational world heritages in the world, and is an important part of the Kvarken Strait Region. Besides territorial meetings were organised to involve local stakeholders and to inform them on the aims and the activities of the project. Furthermore the partners have started to work on the public call for the baseline study to be launched in the coming weeks. Moreover the partners have worked on communication tools: a logo has been adopted; straits' profiles have been written and the architecture of the website and the newsletter have been developed. 3 press conferences were organised and the project reached 33 appearances in the media. The project was also presented in 3 external events In order to insure an efficient implementation of the project, 3 steering committees were organised during the first semester as well as 2 communication meetings. One project manual and an additionnal project toolkit called the "NOSTRA pack" have been developed to facilitate the management of the project. This "pack" is composed by various documents and templates aiming at helping partners to work on their financial report and communication activities (eg: project timeline, staff costs calculation template, meeting report template...).

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