event 01 juin 2021

Blog // Stakeholders explore opportunities to finance Water-Food-Energy-Ecosystems Nexus projects in the Western Balkans

What are the necessary conditions that will pave the way for the implementation of impactful Nexus solutions and investments in the Drin and Drina river basins? Transboundary cooperation, shared data and information, increased knowledge of benefits are but some of the "ingredients" for success. These were some of the main topics of discussion during the Nexus Solutions and Investments in South-East Europe meeting that was hosted by Global Water Partnership Mediterranean Water Convention & Protocol on Water and Health European Investment Bank.

Article Nexus solutions Balkan

The Water-Food-Energy-Ecosystems (WEFE) Nexus approach offers solutions that can reconcile potentially conflicting interests as they compete for the same scarce resources, while capturing existing opportunities and exploring emerging ones. When successfully applied, Nexus solutions can lead to the enhancement of water, energy and food security, while preserving ecosystems and their functions, importantly also in transboundary river basins.

A range of cross-sectoral solutions, from infrastructure to integrated strategic planning frameworks, to address resource management tradeoffs were discussed on 26 May 2021, at the meeting on “Nexus Solutions and Investments in the Western Balkans”, co-organised by UNECE, Global Water Partnership Mediterranean (GWP-Med), and the European Investment Bank (EIB).

Some 50 participants analysed enabling conditions for impactful Nexus investments and explored the participatory identification of concrete Nexus applications in the Drin and Drina River Basins. According to the report “Solutions and investments in the water-food-energy-ecosystems nexus: a synthesis of experiences in transboundary basins” presented by UNECE at the opening, transboundary cooperation ranks very high as a factor of success in the implementation of nexus solutions, along with shared data and information, increased awareness of options and benefits for cross-sector, transboundary trade-offs, compromise and synergies, and innovative infrastructure operating rules. River Basin Organizations can play a key role in facilitating a cross-sectoral dialogue that is needed to develop water investments and to develop “nexus proofed” master plans.

Concrete opportunities for cross-sectoral action in different fields were highlighted, including on: sediment and erosion control, renewable energy integration, agricultural policy, information and data management for planning and forecasting. The fact that countries in the Western Balkans share sectoral as well as cross-cutting agendas (e.g., on water end environment, energy transition, waste management, connectivity, mobility) offers a great opportunity to leverage synergies across sectors at the regional level. These efforts need to be scaled up to tackle region-wide issues such as decarbonization and environmental degradation.

The World Bank shared experience of implementing a cross-sectoral, transboundary program in the Sava and Drina basins, and the EIB facilitated a series of interventions from international organizations about strategic agendas for sustainable development (Green Agenda for the Western Balkans, for which an action plan is coordinated by the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), the EU Danube Strategy, the Water Agenda of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM)), the experience of developing cross-sectoral National Adaptation Plans for climate change (in Serbia), and opportunities to complement with nexus action at transboundary level water cooperation (Global Environment Facility International Waters program).

With the support of the SEE Nexus Project, Project Documents for four Nexus “priority interventions” in the Western Balkans are to be prepared. Suggestions discussed during the Meeting included solutions in the fields of sustainable forest management, biomass, energy and climate, and agriculture.

The SEE Nexus Project (“Promoting the Sustainable Management of Natural Resources in Southeastern Europe, through the use of the Nexus Approach”) is funded by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) and is being implemented by Global Water Partnership-Mediterranean (GWP-Med) in partnership with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).

The agenda of the event is still available here.

This article was first published on May 28, 2021 on the website of the Global Water Partnership-Mediterranean (GWP-Med).

Download the presentations

Connect Natural Values and People Foundation (CNVP): Measures for Biomass and Forestry in the Drin River Basin

EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR): EU Strategy for the Danube Region. Nexus Solutions and Investments in the Western Balkans

Global Water Partnership Mediterranean: The SEE Nexus Project. Supporting the preparation of Project Documents for Nexus priority interventions in the Drin and Drina basins

Jaroslav Černi Water Institute: Sediment Role in Nexus Solutions in Drina River Basin

Union for the Mediterranean (UfM): Nexus Solutions and Investments in the Western Balkans

UNECE: Nexus solutions and investments

Related articles

- Assessment of the Water-Food-Energy-Ecosystem Nexus in Southeastern Europe // Benefits of Transboundary Cooperation in the Drina River Basin

- Launch Workshop // Follow-up Project to the Water-Food-Energy-Ecosystems Nexus Assessment in the Drina River Basin

- Southeastern Europe // Findings of Drina river basin nexus assessment presented in Sarajevo

- Nexus News // Phase II of the Nexus Assessment in the Drina river basin is launched

- Publication // Towards sustainable renewable energy investment and deployment; Trade-offs and opportunities with water resources and the environment

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