The Drin transboundary system (Basin) demonstrates the interdependences between different users as well as uses/functions in five inter-connected water bodies (Prespa, Ohrid and Skadar/Shkoder Lakes and the Drin and Buna/Bojana Rivers) and the Adriatic. Transboundary cooperation was earlier established in the Lakes but not at the Basin level; the latter resulting in the Basin being managed through different and often conflicting national management approaches, and this in turn leads to the degradation of natural values, and considerable pollution export to the Adriatic Sea.
The extended Drin River Basin
UNECE supported the organization by Global Water Partnership Mediterranean (GWP-Med) of consultation meetings on integrated management of the extended Drin River in 2008 and 2009 that brought together governmental and non-governmental representatives from Albania, Greece, Montenegro, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo (UN administered territory under UN Security Council resolution 1244) as well as international organizations and donors. The meetings concluded that there is a need to develop cooperation in the whole basin.
In a project drawing on these conclusions the water competent Ministries and the joint bodies in place as well as other stakeholders were engaged in a consultation dialogue process to develop a Shared Vision for the management of the Basin facilitating the enhancement of transboundary cooperation. The project was funded by the Swedish EPA and implemented in cooperation with GWP-Med from February 2010 to December 2012.
On 25 November 2011 in Tirana, Albania the five Drin River Riparians signed a Memorandum of Understanding on a Shared Strategic Vision for the Sustainable Management of the Drin River Basin for the benefit of about 1.5 million people relying on the water resources of the basin for drinking water, agriculture, fisheries, industry and hydropower. The MoU establishes a structure for cooperation between the Riparians and defines short-term, medium-term and long-term objectives for the cooperation. In 2012 the first steps were taken in the implementation of the MoU with support of the UNECE/GWP-Med project.
Reports from National Consultation and Drin Core Group meetings funded by the project are found here.
The projects “Enabling Transboundary Cooperation & Integrated Water Resources Management in the Extended Drin River Basin”& “Enabling Transboundary Cooperation & Integrated Water Resources Management in the White Drin and the Extended Drin Basin”, funded by the Global Environmental Facility, supports the further development of cooperation between the Riparians of the Drin River Basin. The project is implemented 2015-2019 in cooperation between Global Water Partnership, UNDP and UNECE.
UNECE will have a shared responsibility for implementation of project components such as the development of a Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA) and Strategic Action Programme (SAP). The TDA provides the key foundation for further developments in GEF projects – in particular the development and implementation of the SAP, an action-oriented political document.
The website of the two GEF projects is found here.
“Bilateral arrangements for transboundary management of water resources: the Timok River Project” was implemented by the Regional Environmental Centre for Central and Eastern Europe (REC-CEE) in cooperation with UNECE under the umbrella of ENVSEC. The objective was to help develop a legal framework and other arrangements for shared water resources between Bulgaria and Serbia, focusing on the Timok River. The project has resulted in the Environmental and Risk Assessment of the Timok River Basin and in the Timok River Forum, a stakeholder consultative mechanism. Material from the project can be found here.
Timok River Basin
Sava River Basin
Through the collaboration with the International Sava River Basin Commission (ISRBC), UNECE is supporting the activities of the Parties to the Framework Agreement on the Sava River Basin (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia) in the field of integrated water resources management.
Thanks to funding from the Swedish Environment Protection Agency, a pilot project was undertaken by the ISRBC in 2008–2009 to prepare the part of the Sava River Basin Analysis Report dealing with the hydromorphological issues. The project was a useful step in the preparation of the first Sava River Basin Management Plan and was also instrumental for the ISRBC to getting access to additional funding from the European Union to support the full development of the Plan.
Moreover, through funding of the ENVSEC, the implementation of the „Pilot Project on Climate Change Adaptation: Building the Link between the Flood Risk Management Planning and Climate Change Assessment“ has started in 2011, as a part of the programme of pilot projects on adaptation to climate change in transboundary basins under the UNECE Water Convention. The project addresses the issues of transboundary management of floods in the Sava River Basin, while taking into account the impact of climate change under different scenarios with the ultimate goal of providing a basis for the preparation of the first Flood Risk Management Plan for the Sava River Basin.
To further integration of water policy with other policies, as well as to promote dialogue with key sectoral stakeholders, a partipatory assessment of the intersectoral links, trade-offs and benefits (water-food-energy-ecosystems nexus) in the Sava Basin was carried out from 2014 to 2015 under the Water Convention. As follow up, responding to the findings, the Drina tributary is assessed in 2016 for the key intersectoral issues and for the potential benefits of cooperation.
Workshop on Integrated Transboundary Water Resources Management in South-Eastern Europe
This workshop ( Sarajevo, 18-20 May 2009) was jointly organized with RCC, GWP-Med and the International Sava River Basin Commission with the financial assistance of Sweden and Switzerland. It was part of the preparatory process for the second assessment for SEE, but also allowed for discussing key issues for transboundary waters and cooperation in the subregion linked with: (a) institutional and legal settings for cooperation, in particular the implementation of the Convention and the European Union Water Framework Directive (EU WFD); (b) multipurpose use of water resources; and (c) climate change adaptation.
Support to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to accede the Convention
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia approached the secretariat requesting assistance with acceding to the Convention. In addition to the Guide to Implementing the Convention, developed in response to this and other requests, several national activities took place thanks to Swedish support.