Marco Keiner_Intervention_Mapping the Issues


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International Roundtable on Protection and Sustainable Use of Trans-boundary Waters in South East Europe, 15-16 December 2011, Zagreb, Croatia

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Marco Keiner_Intervention_Mapping the Issues

  1. 1. Speaking points for Marco Keiner for the International Roundtable on Protection and Sustainable Use of Transboundary Waters in Southeastern Europe” Zagreb, Croatia (15-16 December 2011) State of Transboundary Water Resources Management in the SEE - Mapping the issues 15 December, 10:15 1. It is a great pleasure for me to participate in this Roundtable on Trans-boundary WaterManagement. I want to thank the German Ministry of Environment in cooperation with the CroatianMinistry of Regional Development Forestry and Water Management, GEF IWLEARN, World Bankand Global Water Partnership for organising this very important meeting. UNECE attaches greatimportance to the Petersberg Phase II / Athens Declaration Process1 through which we have(together with partners) been supporting cooperation as well as the initiation of multi stakeholderdialogue processes, e.g., the one for the “extended” Drin River Basin. 2. Transboundary water cooperation is fundamental in South Eastern Europe (SEE) where about90% of the territory falls within shared basins. More than half of the thirteen major transboundaryrivers and four shared lakes in the region are shared by three or more riparian countries. In addition,there are some 60 shared aquifers or groundwater bodies identified. 3. These transboundary waters present considerable needs for cooperative management forvarious purposes, including protection of water quality, sustainability of water quantity, navigation,hydropower generation, flood control and conservation of natural habitats and biodiversity. Theexperience in the Danube and Rhine to bring together navigation and environment, as well as theongoing dialogue, again in the Danube and Sava to involve the hydropower sector are positivedevelopments that need to be strongly supported and replicated in other basins. 4. In order to keep the status of transboundary waters and related cooperation under scrutinyand share valuable experience in the process, the Meeting of the Parties to the Convention on theProtection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (UNECE WaterConvention) decided to carry out regional assessments. The Second Assessment of TransboundaryRivers, Lakes and Groundwaters, which was presented for the first time at the Seventh“Environment for Europe” Ministerial Conference in Astana, Kazakhstan on 21 September 2011, isthe latest product in this process. We have received extremely positive feedback on the report, andtherefore I am pleased to make a few general remarks about it. 5. To give you the scope, this comprehensive overview of the status of transboundary waters inthe European and Asian parts of the UNECE region covers more than 140 transboundary rivers, 25transboundary lakes, about 200 transboundary groundwaters and 25 Ramsar Sites or other wetlandsof transboundary importance. It has been carried out under the auspices of the Meeting of theParties to Water Convention, under the leadership of Finland, in close cooperation with waterand/or environment administrations of some 50 countries and with involvement of more than 250experts and in close cooperation with many partners. The process involved extensive collection of1 Coordinated by Germany, Greece and the World Bank, acting in cooperation with the GEF, UNECE and UNDP, with the technical facilitation of GWP Med
  2. 2. official information by transboundary basin and organization of 5 subregional workshops over 2years. 6. The Assessment illustrates that transboundary resources are faced by numerous challenges:water pollution from operating and old industrial facilities, mines, urban wastewater andagriculture, illegal wastewater discharges and illegal waste deposits, groundwater pollution, waterscarcity and destructive floods. 7. We see in the Assessment that considerable progress has been made in SEE in lawmaking butthere are still deficiencies in implementation and enforcement, and the level of transboundarycooperation is uneven due to diverse difficulties (e.g. low political priority, finances, institutionalcapacity, conflicting interests). EU Accession process is the main driver of policy reform also in thefield of water and environment in general. However, as the process of approximation to thestandards of the EU in recent years has attracted most of the limited human resources available inthe countries, it has, in some instances, had adverse effects on transboundary cooperation. TheUNECE Water Convention has a special role to play in SEE, as it offers a common platform for EUand non-EU countries, including for exchange, knowledge transfer and creation of a commonunderstanding. It is also a useful tool for assisting the implementation of EU water legislation bynon-EU countries. 8. SEE is predicted to become increasingly affected by climate change in numerous ways.Indeed, the subregion is currently one of the most at risk of water scarcity in Europe. TheIntergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has predicted decreased amounts of summerrainfall for the region and an increase in the frequency and severity of droughts and other extremeweather events. Hence climate change is an important aspect to be taken into account for themanagement of water resources in the subregion. Without adequate transboundary coordination inadaptation measures there is a risk of negative impacts from unilaterally taken measures.Transboundary cooperation enables the sharing of costs and benefits of adaptation measures, bettermanaging uncertainty through exchange of information, broadening the knowledge base, andenlarging the range of measures available. 9. This — like other above-mentioned challenges — can only be tackled in a joint effort by allriparian countries. Cooperation between the basin countries has been initiated and is evolving invarious ways, supported by many international organizations and in particular the European Union.New agreements, protocols and other types of treaties have been signed for example on the SavaRiver, but are still lacking for many other basins in the region. 10. A main objective behind the preparation of the Second Assessment was to provide abasis for further progress and thereby stimulate action to improve the status of shared waters andrelated ecosystems by different actors including Governments, river basin organizations, theinternational community and the civil society. We also want other actors to use the assessmentfindings for their work. Take advantage of it: it has been done to be used. 11. UNECE had an extremely good cooperation with the Global Water PartnershipMediterranean on preparing the SEE part of the Second Assessment, and I am pleased that DimitrisFaloutsos will present subregional findings from the assessment.
  3. 3. 12. Looking ahead, future work within the Water Convention will build on the findings ofthe Second Assessment. We foresee a stock-taking exercise on the results in February to contributeto designing the future short-term and long-term strategy under the Convention.As for the preparation of future assessments, discussions have already started in the framework ofthe Water Convention. While there is not yet a final decision, the proposed approach is two-tieredapproach:1) A third assessment with the same scope as the Second Assessment could be prepared in 8–10years time; considering that the response time of ecosystems is long and at least 8 years will beneeded to measure substantial progress2) At the same time, there is the opportunity to focus in more detail on specific issues. Thus aspecial edition could be prepared within 4 years with a focus on a specific theme such as a specificpressure factor (agriculture, hydropower) cross-cutting theme (climate change, biodiversity) or aresponse measure (development of Integrated Water Resources Management plans). The specialedition will likely be limited in scope to a representative number of basins. 13. We very much welcome ideas on possible future scope as well as possible newpartnerships. The Second Assessment has been the product of a “great team” with partners fromdifferent institutions, in line with the cooperative spirit of the Convention. We want future editionsto follow the same approach.