The European Union project “Central Asia Nexus Dialogue Project: Fostering Water, Energy and Food Security Nexus Dialogue and Multi-Sector Investment in Central Asia” supported the study tour for the delegation from Central Asia to Vienna, Austria, and Zagreb, Croatia, in May 2019 to learn the European experience on the management of the transboundary water resources of Danube and Sava River Basins. The delegation conducted technical meetings with the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR) and the International Sava River Basin Commission (ISRBC) and paid two site visits in Vienna, Austria, and Zagreb, Croatia, respectively.
This study conveys knowledge and information on the management of the transboundary water resources by acknowledging the importance of the WEF Nexus in the Danube and Sava River Basins. Firsthand information was received during face-to-face meetings with the ICPDR and the ISRBC and the summarized work at hand shares the European experience with a wider audience.
The analytical work narrates the institutional and legislative frameworks within the sectoral characteristics on the management of two River Basins: the Danube River Basin, which is the largest and the most international one in Europe, and the Sava River Basin, which serves as the greatest tributary to the Danube River. The study reviews the operations of the ICPDR and the ISRBC and technical tools applied at the basin level, which include accident emergency warning systems, monitoring networks, flood forecasting and more.
Although, the Europe faces different water challenges, the legal settings and commitments of the riparian countries matters. As such, Europe does not experience significant water deficits. Unlike Central Asia, the Himalayas and South America, where permafrost glaciers serve as a main water resources provider, Europe has mix regime with rich precipitation, glaciers and arctic permafrost in Switzerland and Scandinavia. Hence, river basin management is not so much focused on the water quantity with any water allocation limits, but looks at the water quality and organic pollution, nutrient and hazardous substances and hydromorphology, as the transboundary water resources serve as a source for drinking water and navigation.
On top of that, the European experience on transboundary cooperation for water issues goes back a long way. For example, the Danube River Basin has over a century of cooperation history, including with the Austro Hungarian and Russian Empire on navigation issues. After the establishment of the Soviet Union cooperation and dialogue between Central and Eastern Europe was interrupted until its collapse. Since 1994, the respective international conventions were signed to resume the transboundary water cooperation between Central and Eastern Europe and have been in practice for the last decades.
CAREC (Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia)