Experts from Albania and Montenegro met in Shkoder (Albania) on 25 April 2023 to progress with the exchange of information on the shared Cijevna/Cem River. This was the second meeting of the joint technical group on monitoring and assessment established upon recommendation of the Implementation Committee under the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention). Two members of the Implementation Committee, Pedro Cunha Serra and Ivan Zavadsky, joined the meeting to facilitate the development of data exchange.
The Committee is assisting Albania and Montenegro in the framework of an advisory procedure, initiated in response to a request made by Montenegro related to its concerns about the possible transboundary impact of planned additional small hydropower plants on the Cijevna/Cem River in Albania. The two countries are now implementing the Committee’s legal and technical advice developed through a series of joint consultations and accepted by both countries. This work should advance cooperation of Albania and Montenegro under the Framework Agreement on Mutual Relations in the Field of Management of Transboundary Waters concluded in 2018.
At the meeting in Shkoder, several Albanian institutions expressed their readiness to share with Montenegro some hydrological, geological and technical information on the Cijevna/Cem River basin related to the operation of already existing small hydropower plants. Experts from both countries discussed needs and ways for establishing adequate monitoring of transboundary groundwaters in the basin. Albania committed to provide comments on the draft protocol on cooperation in the field of exchange of information prepared by Montenegro. Montenegro committed to provide comments on the project documentation and environmental impact assessment (EIA) reports received from Albania.
Discussions with members of the Committee on the need to jointly collect data on groundwater in the basin, develop groundwater flow maps and undertake studies on fish species in the Cijevna/Cem River continued during the field visit to the Murras (2 MW installed capacity) and Dobrinje (<1 MW) small hydropower plants, which were recently built in the Albanian part of the river. The field visit provided an unprecedented opportunity for the Committee members to better understand the issues involved.
The Implementation Committee under the Water Convention was established by the Meeting of the Parties to the Convention in 2012. It consists of nine members – lawyers and water management professionals – that were elected by the Meeting of the Parties. The Committee provides tailored assistance by facilitating cooperation and preventing conflicts in transboundary river and lake basins and shared aquifers. Its overall objective is to support implementation of the Water Convention – a global treaty on sustainable use of transboundary water resources.
Delegations of Albania and Montenegro to the joint technical group on monitoring and assessment were headed by Ms. Gerta Lubonja, General Director, Water Resources Management Agency of Albania, and Mr. Željko Furtula, General Director, Directorate for Water Management of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management of Montenegro.