Representatives from the water, energy, and environment sectors of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Serbia - the three Riparians of the Drina River Basin - met on 4 May 2022 to discuss ways forward on sustainable development and transboundary cooperation. The meeting was organized by UNECE and Global Water Partnership - Mediterranean with the support of the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), in the framework of the SEE Nexus Project (“Promoting the Sustainable Management of Natural Resources in South-eastern Europe, through the use of the Nexus approach”).
The Nexus Roadmap for the Drina River basin
At the meeting, representatives agreed on a Nexus Roadmap for the basin, which lays out 10 key objectives for coordinated cross-sectoral policy and transboundary governance. The objectives include suggested lines of action to unlock solutions in infrastructure development, information exchange, flow regulation, wastewater treatment, sediment management, sustainable renewable energy and agricultural development.
The Roadmap responds to the needs that were highlighted by the countries at the high-level workshop “Action across sectors and borders for the sustainable future of the Drina River Basin” held in Belgrade in 2019, and draws from:
- the findings of the Nexus Assessment
- input received through a consultation process under the SEE Nexus Project, including national consultation meetings in all 3 riparian countries and two meetings of the Drina Experts Working Group on Flow Regulation
- the recommendations from previous Nexus activities in the basin led by UNECE
The Roadmap can assist and guide the implementation of EU’s Green Agenda for the Western Balkans at the Drina basin level, by ensuring that investments address considerations of all sectors, capture potential synergies and maximise the use of available resources and platforms.
The countries perspectives and visions, as well as expectations for future work, were introduced by Mr. Mirza Hujic, Assistant Minister in the sector of water resources, tourism and environmental protection, Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations, Bosnia and Herzegovina; Ms. Dragana Đukic, Head of Monitoring and Evaluation in the Directorate for Water Management, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Directorate, Montenegro; and Ms. Natalija Lukovic, Assistant Minister responsible for Green Energy, Ministry of Mining and Energy, Serbia.
Validation for the Nexus Assessment Report for the Drina basin
Representatives also validated the Nexus Assessment Report for the Drina basin, prepared in the framework of the SEE Nexus Project, that focused on two issues: (i) a scenario analysis to explore the role of renewable energy – and hydropower in particular- in meeting the countries’ energy and climate objectives, and (ii) a legal and governance focused analysis of the options available to formalize transboundary flow regulation, also drawing from international examples. Two further outputs are being prepared in the framework of the project: an outline of a climate adaptation strategy for the basin and a project proposal for interventions on improving sediment management.
Participants expressed appreciation for the work carried out so far and stressed the importance to continue the cross-sectoral and transboundary dialogue in the basin, focusing on concrete actions and strong partnerships across countries, potentially with the development of a new project on the Nexus in the basin, focusing on energy security and environmental protection. They also emphasized that future activity should facilitate the implementation of the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans and work in close synergy with other ongoing projects and activities in the region, the GEF / World Bank “Sava and Drina Rivers Corridors Integrated Development Program” (SDIP).
Improving transboundary cooperation is recognized as a key to unlock several opportunities, including further financial support to tackle climate change at the basin-level, to continue work on water and flood management, and to resolve any pending bilateral issues.
This article was first published on May 11, 2022 on the GWP-Med website and is re-published with the kind permission of GWP-Med.
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