The 1,362-kilometre-long Dniester River is one of the largest Eastern European rivers. It starts in the Carpathian Mountains in Ukraine, flows through the Republic of Moldova and then re-enters Ukraine where it discharges into the Black Sea. In addition to supplying drinking water for a large part of the basin, including the major city of Odessa (Ukraine), hydropower generation and fisheries are other important sectors the river serves.
The Dniester process supporting the development of transboundary cooperation between the two Riparians, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, has been jointly managed by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) as part of the Environment and Security Initiative (ENVSEC). Three projects – Dniester-I, II and III – have supported the development of the transboundary cooperation on the Dniester River Basin, including the involvement of institutions in Transnistria. Finland and Sweden have provided financial support.
The Dniester-I project (2004–2006), “Transboundary cooperation and sustainable management of the Dniester river”, assisted the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine in the development of a diagnostic study of the transboundary issues in the basin.
Dniester-II (2006–2007), “Action Programme to improve transboundary cooperation and sustainable management of the Dniester river”, focused on the development of a programme to improve transboundary cooperation.
The Dniester-III project (2009-2011), “Transboundary cooperation and sustainable management in the Dniester River basin: Phase III - Implementation of the Action Programme”, implemented in 2009-2011, assisted the two Governments in the development and negotiations of the Dniester Treaty.
On 29 November 2012 the Minister of Environment of the Republic of Moldova, Mr. Gheorge Salaru, and the Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine, Mr. Eduard Stavytskyi, signed the bilateral Treaty on Cooperation on the Conservation and Sustainable Development of the Dniester River Basin. The signing ceremony took place at the sixth session of the Meeting of the Parties to the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) in Rome (see Treaty text in Russian and English as well as the related press release).
The new Treaty identifies principles and provides a framework for cooperation on water pollution prevention and control, water flow regulation, conservation of biodiversity and protection of the Black Sea environment. It also addresses the monitoring of data exchange, public participation and cooperation in emergency situations.
The Treaty is a pioneering example for the region in the post-Soviet era. It significantly broadens the existing cooperation arrangements to cover the entire river basin and all sectors important for the management and protection of the shared waters. The Treaty establishes the bilateral Dniester Commission to facilitate sustainable use and protection of the Basin. It is an important step in the implementation by the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine of their obligations under the UNECE Water Convention.
The achievements of the three subsequent Dniester projects include improved cooperation and coordination between health authorities in the region responsible for the quality of drinking water; establishment of transboundary cooperation on biodiversity including the management of fish stocks; improved sharing and management of information on the basin; reduction of vulnerability to floods, better understanding of transboundary climate risks and vulnerabilities to them and increased awareness among stakeholders and the public about the value of the water resources in the Dniester Basin and the threats they face.
In 2013-2017 activities aimed to increase capacity for transboundary climate change adaptation in the Dniester basin were supported by European Union’s Instrument for Stability and the Austrian Development Cooperation within the project “Climate Change and Security in the Dniester River Basin”. As a result of the project the Strategic Framework for Climate Change Adaptation in the Dniester Basin and its Implementation Plan were developed followed by implementation of concrete adaptation measures focused on improving information exchange, reforestation and raising public awareness. More information is available at https://dniester-commission.com/en/publications/climate-change/.
Currently the GEF/UNDP/OSCE/UNECE project “Enabling transboundary cooperation and integrated water resources management in the Dniester River Basin” is supporting the countries and the Commission on Sustainable Use and Protection of the Dniester River Basin (the Dniester Commission) in integrated water resource management in the Dniester River Basin. The Dniester Commission was established with support of the afore-mentioned project in September 2018. The project is composed by three components:
- In-depth analysis of the water resources, related ecosystems and their use as well as climate change impacts. This component includes preparation of the Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA) and Strategic Action Program (SAP) to be integrated into transboundary river basin management plan;
- Development of the policy, legal and institutional set-up, mandate and capacities of the Dniester Commission for strengthened basin-level cooperation; and
- Strengthening of water resources and biodiversity monitoring and conservation, and information exchange in the Dniester River Basin.
More information on the river, the transboundary cooperation and projects can be found here.