Renowned Croatian singer Oliver Dragojević was appointed UNDP Goodwill Ambassador for the Dalmatian coast on March 31, 2011. In this role, Dragojević advocates for the goals of environmental protection, cultural heritage preservation, and sustainable development, that are the focus of UNDP's COAST project in Dalmatia.
"There is an unbreakable bond between beauty, nature, customs, food, sea, song, and all those good Dalmatian people, that makes me feel it is my duty to give it my all in order to make sure we protect what we have. In doing that, we will also enable the new generations that are arriving to get to know about the dolphins, donkeys, and all those herbs that we keep passing by, frequently not even noticing them. As the UNDP Goodwill Ambassador, I will advocate for the protection of natural wealth of our Dalmatia, which is a duty for all of us, and that would enable us to be proud of our culture and tradition," said Dragojević at the appointment ceremony, held at the UNDP Office near the Peristil in central Split.
Over the course of his nearly 40-year musical career, Oliver Dragojević has became a true symbol of Dalmatia, both through his typically Dalmatian pop songs, filled with affection for the Dalmatian region, its traditions and way of life, and through his own lifestyle. Even when they do not explicitly refer to Dalmatia, his songs are seen as expressing Dalmatian values.
In his new role as UNDP Goodwill Ambassador, Dragojević helps spread the messages of the COAST project, both in Croatia and abroad. The COAST project strives to preserve the natural beauty and traditions of Dalmatia while securing livelihoods in tourism, agriculture, fishing and other sectors. The need to infuse environmental protection into all forms of economic development is a particularly important message for younger generations.
COAST supports the development of the Dalmatian coast in a way that preserves both the natural beauty of the region and the cultural heritage and traditions that have shaped Dalmatia over the centuries. COAST activities include support to the organic cultivation of olives, herbs and figs; promotion of eco-friendly agro-tourism; revival of endangered grape and shellfish varieties; creation of hiking and bicycling trails that showcase the natural wonders of Dalmatia; and popularization of sustainable fishing practices. The goal is to base Dalmatian development on economic sectors that incorporate the preservation of natural and landscape diversity and cultural heritage into their business operations.
The COAST project in all four Dalmatian counties – Zadar, Šibenik-Knin, Split-Dalmatia and Dubrovnik-Neretva – with $7 million in financial support from the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The project is implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Environmental Protection, Physical Planning and Construction. Project partners include Development Agencies in all four Dalmatian Counties. Through the Green Business Support Program, the COAST Project provides financial and technical assistance for the preservation of biological and landscape diversity in key economic sectors, including agriculture, tourism, fishing and mariculture. In partnership with Splitska and Jadranska banka, it also promotes "green" lending.