Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe
The REC is an international organisation established in 1990 by the European Commission, the USA and Hungary, that accelerates sustainable solutions in partnership with governments and non-governmental stakeholders. Mandated by 32 Member States, and the European Commission, the REC has been providing structured assistance to the region of Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe and beyond (MENA, Central Asia, Southern Caucasus, Latin America), in helping communities to strengthen environmental governance, shifting to a low-carbon economy, building resilience to climate change, managing natural resources, and developing capacities for future environmental stewardship.
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The REC’s expertise focuses on the following areas: environmental governance, low-emission development, resilience to the impacts of climate change, sustainable mobility, water management and natural resources management. The status of the REC as an independent, non-partisan, non-advocacy and non-profit international organisation has become a model for open, transparent, efficient and accountable international cooperation in Europe and beyond.
Mission and objectives
The REC’s mission is to contribute to transparency, sustainability and European integration, implementing projects that build resilience to climate change, promote clean energy solutions, champion sustainable mobility and strengthen environmental governance in Central and Eastern Europe and beyond. We fulfill our mission by promoting cooperation among governments, non-governmental organisations, businesses and other stakeholders, and by supporting the free exchange of information and public participation.
In July 1989 during his visit to Hungary President George Bush made a pledge for million dollars to help establish an independent environmental protection center in Hungary* The European Commission agreed to match this offer and the Hungarian government offered additional funds and in-kind support. The Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe was opened in September 1990 in the presence of Hungarian President Árpád Göncz and Prime Minister József Antall. Soon additional European countries (Austria, Denmark, The Netherlands) and next year Canada and Japan joined the founding countries, providing additional funds. In 1995 the REC was chartered as an international non-governmental organization, headquartered in Hungary. Founding Executive Director Peter Hardi started to build a regional network of REC offices in former communist countries in Europe. This network now includes 8 regional offices. Since October 2019 the Center is de facto closed; negotiations are under way to consolidate its accumulated debt and legally close its operations.
The REC currently manages over 60 active projects worth a total amount of approximately EUR 20.8 million. Over the last ten years, the REC has successfully implemented more than 1,000 projects and has received in excess of EUR 130 million from more than 800 resource partners. The REC’s extensive experience and proven track in its focus areas allow partners to enjoy the benefits of specialization, shared knowledge and economies of scale. For more than 25 years, and working with funds totaling more than EUR 210 million, the REC has received public and private grants, implemented projects and programmes with earmarked contributions, and administered and operated funds, including trust funds.
The REC offers a multi-stakeholder platform for policy dialogue and the advancement of regional and national debates in areas of emerging importance on the public agenda and those that require particular expertise, as well as diplomatic engagement. Through its headquarters in Szentendre, and a well-established office network covering the countries of Central, South Eastern Europe, and the Baltics, the REC has implemented, in a politically sensitive environment, national and transnational projects funded, among others, by the Government of the US, the Government of Canada, the European Commission, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), the Government of Norway, and other partners.
- [George H. W. Bush, "Appealing to College Students in Hungary," Making the History of 1989, Item #43, http://chnm.gmu.edu/1989/items/show/43 (accessed March 18, 2019, 2:35 pm)]