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Public Awareness Strategy - the main instrument to develop the public awareness, ecological education and communication between stakeholders in Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve

Objective of the Public Awareness Strategy:
The objective of the Strategy is to support the conservation and sustainable management of the natural resources of the Danube Delta, while improving socio-economic benefits for the local population, and the financial sustainability of the DDBRA, through the implementation of an integrated and clearly targeted plan for public awareness activities.

The need for a Public Awareness Strategy
The DDBRA has recognised the critical need for a Public Awareness Strategy. This need has been identified for a number for different reasons, including:
The critical state of the Danube Deltas globally important natural resources, and the need to continue to use a wide variety of mechanisms to address this.
The recognition of the central role of local communities and organisations in the successful management and development of the DDBR.
The lack of awareness of the DDBRA, DDBR and conservation issues in general among local communities and organisations, as well nationally and international.
The negative image by the local population of the DDBRA.
The need to improve the prioritisation and co-ordination of public awareness activities in the DDBRA and across the Danube Delta.
The opportunity to promote the DDBRAs 10th Anniversary and the work of the GEF project.
The wider benefits of improved public awareness to the sustainable social and economic development of the area.

Preparation of the Strategy
The preparation of the Strategy was funded by the GEF Danube Delta Biodiversity Project, and was facilitated by the international conservation organisation, Fauna & Flora International. The Strategy was prepared between October 1999 and May 2000. There are a number of important aspects of the way this Strategy was prepared:
This is the first Public Awareness Strategy developed for any protected area in Romania.
A wide range of stakeholders were closely involved in the preparation.
The participatory approaches used have helped to develop a more integrated, effective and acceptable Strategy.
The DDBRA has acknowledged the importance of stakeholder consultation in decision and policy making.
Participatory approaches have been shown to be effective in reducing conflict, changing attitudes, building partnerships and disseminating information.
A broad approach to public awareness has been taken, recognising the need for many different organisations and mechanisms to be used to build awareness not only of the DDBRA and the Danube Delta, but also of wider social and environmental issues.
This is only the first step in the DDBRA increasing stakeholder involvement, information sharing and dialogue, there is still much more to be done and many more improvements to be made.

Key Issues
A number of key issues have been identified that will be addressed by the Public Awareness Strategy. These were considered to be the priority issues by organisations participating in the preparation of the Strategy and DDBRA staff, and have been identified through previous experience of work in the Danube Delta (from GEF project activities, DDI, BirdLife International, etc).

The twelve key issues identified for the Public Awareness Strategy are:
1. Pollution
2. Understanding the reasons why the DDBR was established
3. Public image of the DDBRA
4. Economic and social difficulties among local people
5. Internal communication within the DDBRA
6. Communication between the DDBRA and local stakeholders
7. Range of different administrative bodies involved in management of the DDBR
8. Environmental education and awareness
9. Interpretation of legislation
10. Exploitation of natural resources
11. Unfulfilled potential for tourism
12. Maintaining local culture and traditions

Target Audiences (Stakeholders)
A variety of different groups of people have an interest in the Danube Delta, or influence it in some way or other. The Public Awareness Strategy of the DDBRA has been designed to reach as wide an audience as possible, but it is vital that public awareness can be targeted at certain key groups.
The criteria used to identify the priority audience groups include:

The level of direct impact the group has on the Danube Delta
The ability of the group to influence the Danube Delta (in terms of environment, social, economic, political or legislation)
The extent to which the perceptions or behaviour of the group need to change to allow effective conservation and maintenance of the DDBR

 

Priority Target Audience
Critical Local people (all communities in the DDBR, particularly people using the Danube Deltas resources)
Tourists
Local authorities (all legislative and executive decision makers, including Tulcea County Council, government, politicians)
High DDBRA (administrative staff and wardens)
Mass media (newspapers, radio, television)
Businesses and investors operating in the DDBR
Children, students and teachers
National and international donors
Moderate Local NGOs
Specialists
Religious groups
Tulcea inhabitants
Elderly people
Low International partners
National level groups
   

Gathering of information
The main sources for gathering of information are: public meetings, workshops, face- to- face meetings, e-mail, letters.

Mechanisms of communication between stakeholders
The Action Plan of the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve Authority describes the activities to be carried out to enable the implementation of the Public Awareness Strategy. These are grouped together to respond to the twelve key issues that the Strategy is designed to address. The activities are described by using the messages or information that the DDBRA intends to transmit to improve communication and access to information, and to increase public awareness.

For each message the target audience, or group of stakeholders has been identified. Each target audience may require a different mode of delivering or transmitting the message, this is shown by the mechanism in the action plan.

   
Mechanism Description
Leaflets Leaflets are easily produced and can provide information or promote specific issues with different audiences.
Radio programmes Radio is one of the most effective ways of reaching to local communities in the Danube Delta, as well as other local and national audiences. The DDBRA will use radio messages and regular radio programmes to cover information and issues relating to the DDBR.
Information sheets For some issues or stakeholder groups information will need to be produced in an accessible form. The DDBRA will produce information materials as specific needs are identified - for example if local communities wanted more general background information about fishing, or if tourists needed information about facilities and transport in the Danube Delta. The format and content of the information materials will vary depending on the issue covered and the specific audience.
Press releases The DDBRA will produce press releases for use by mass media on current events and issues. They will be focused on those media which target the main audience groups most effectively.
Reports The DDBRA will produce detailed technical reports on particular issues, as required. These reports will usually be targeted at specific organisations or groups, and will provide essential background information for the above items.
Face-to-face meetings Personal meetings will be an underlying mechanism for all of the DDBRAs work, ensuring effective and understanding communication and understanding between focal groups. This is particularly important in relation to local people living in the Danube Delta where the wardens will play a significant role in communication.
E-mail E-mail will be essential for regular and effective communication and information dissemination between groups, particularly at the international level and with groups working closely and regularly with the DDBRA (e.g. project sponsors, national and international NGOs and other partners).
Public meetings Public meetings will be useful for open discussions and presentations between specific groups - for example, local business interests and representatives of a local community. In particular, they offer a more personal forum for information exchange with opportunities for cross-sectoral discussion, which is not possible with some other mechanisms.
Press conferences Press conferences offer an effective way to have direct and two-way communication with the mass media, to discuss particular issues with several groups at the same time.
Newspaper articles Newspaper articles on key issues offer an additional mechanism to reach a wide audience at both local and national levels.
TV programmes TV programmes on key issues also offer an additional mechanism to reach a wide audience at both local and national levels.
Letters Letters are an effective way to give specific individuals key information, particularly in informing them about upcoming or recent events.
Workshops Workshops offer a mechanism for relatively small groups to discuss and learn about specific key issues in depth. In particular, they allow training in key skills and achieving consensus on key issues.
DDBRA website The website is a potential mechanism for disseminating information at the national and international level, particularly in conveying the importance of the Danube Delta, as well as sharing lessons learnt from the DDBRAs experience. A website is an effective way to promote the Danube Delta and the work of the DDBRA outside Romania.
Local and national events Local and national events offer a good mechanism for the DDBRA to have contact with a large audience at a local or national level. Initially, this is likely to be at events organised for other purposes (e.g. fishing festivals, 10 year anniversary of the DDBRA ). European or international events could also be used to demonstrate the importance of the Danube Delta in global terms.


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