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The distinguished delegation from WWF International explored the Serbian segment of this European Eden
The Amazon of Europe, often whispered about in hushed tones of reverence, stood as a living testament to the harmonious convergence of three mighty rivers—Mura, Drava, and Danube. This biosphere reserve, spanning five countries and lauded by UNESCO, was still aglow with the aura of its second anniversary.
A select delegation from WWF, including Jon Hutton, the Executive Director for Global Conservation Impact at WWF International; Stuart Orr, the Practice Leader for Freshwater; Ajay Barai, the Regional Director of Europe & North Africa; and Harrie Oostingh, the Program Quality Director of Europe and North Africa, explored the Serbian segment of this European Eden. Guiding them through this pristine paradise was Zdenka Mitic, the Director of the Tourism Organization in Sombor, and the devoted team from WWF-Adria.
For Mr. Hutton, whose days were usually bound within the confines of an office, this voyage marked an extraordinary departure from the norm. “It’s been a really awesome couple of days. I hardly ever get out of the office, and when I do, I get taken to one of the most beautiful parts of Europe, with beautiful people and it’s been an experience that I’ll never forget”, remarked Mr. Hutton, reflecting on his sojourn in Serbia. “If this is what WWF-Adria does on the ground, then we are doing the right thing and we should be very, very proud for what is going on. And not enough people know about it, so I will help to spread the word!”
Their voyage took them to the city of Sombor, where they were welcomed by Deputy Mayor Branislav Svorcan. He not only unraveled the city's rich history but also emphasized the paramount significance of nature conservation, especially the venerable trees that grace Sombor. Sombor is renowned as the "green city," and Mr. Svorcan took his guests to visit the orchard cultivated in collaboration with WWF-Adria's team, a testament to their commitment to Earth Hour.
Their journey continued to the Danube River, where Radmila Sakic Peuraca, an independent officer for protected areas and the environment in Vojvodinasume Forest Public Company, extended a warm welcome. This company, a longstanding partner of WWF-Adria, has supported WWF in countless field endeavors over the past decade. The delegation embarked on a mesmerizing voyage along the Bajski Channel, immersing themselves in the mosaic of conservation projects that define the Amazon of Europe, with a special focus on the "Restoration of Amazon of Europe" under the aegis of the Endangered Landscape Programme.
Finally, they ventured to Backi Monostor, the very heart of the Amazon of Europe, where the local community orchestrated a charming folklore concert, presented by the talented local youth and a chorus of esteemed ladies. Their senses were treated to a symphony of flavors as they savored the delectable local products throughout their sojourn.
The WWF International delegation was joined by Natasha Kalauz, the CEO of WWF-Adria, her recently appointed Conservation Director, Dunja Mazzocco Drvar, and the rest of her senior management team and the dedicated Serbian team. In addition to their visit to the Gornje Podunavlje Special Nature Reserve—an integral part of the Amazon of Europe, where WWF's legacy spans decades—the delegation basked in the excitement of the World Rowing Championships Finals in Belgrade. There, they celebrated the triumphs of not only the medalists but also the athletes who earned their tickets to the 2024 Olympics in Paris. WWF representatives congratulated World Rowing, their global partner, on the fantastic organization of the Championships 2023.