Water Management

Sustainable water resources management and transboundary water issues

In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), the REC continued activities under the project “Sustainable Use of Transboundary Water Resources and Water Security Management” (WATER SUM), reinforcing efficient national water resources management and greater regional cooperation on water. Activities were implemented principally in Jordan and Tunisia, although other countries from across the region were invited to participate in targeted and relevant regional activities. Through Component 1: Water Resources Management Good Practices and Knowledge Transfer (Water POrT); and Component 2: Water Security (WaSe) of the project, which is funded by the Government of Sweden, the aim is to accelerate the more sustainable use of the region’s water resources and develop a strategic approach to climate change adaptation. Within the WATER POrT component, implemented by the Water Management Topic Area, the main activities target water demand management, water resources protection, socio-political aspects of integrated water resources management, and climate change impacts on water resources. (http://watersum.rec.org/waterport/)

The REC took an active role in the framework of the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR); the International Sava River Basin Commission; and the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (the Water Convention). Back to back with the seventh session of the Meeting of the Parties (MOP) to the UNECE Water Convention, the REC organised a workshop to discuss the needs of MENA countries that are moving towards accession to the Water Convention, as well as possible activities to respond to such needs. The workshop was organised with the financial and technical backing of the Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea; in cooperation with the UNECE Water Convention Secretariat; and with the support of the Government of Hungary.

Capacity building and awareness raising

As part of a consortium, the REC supports Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine in their efforts to improve the availability and ecological status of selected transboundary rivers, and in the preparation and implementation of river basin management plans. In this process, the REC leads the public awareness and public involvement activities. The topic area team organised a series of stakeholder consultation meetings and developed e-learning videos on water monitoring/sampling and various awareness-raising publications. (http://blacksea-riverbasins.net/en/)

Financially supported by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Environment, jointly with 10 partners the REC finalised a sound and comprehensive European (web-based) knowledge platform on natural water retention measures (NWRM) with the main aim of integrating NWRM in river basin management by providing a better understanding of the constraints and opportunities for implementing NWRM. The REC created and led the Danube region network and contributed to the development of an electronic catalogue of measures and a practical guide to support the design and implementation of NWRM in Europe. (www.nwrm.eu).

In Bulgaria, with the financial support of EEA Grants, the REC launched activities to contribute to the development of river basin management plans (RBMPs). Activities focused on analysing the effects of hydropower on river ecosystems and on developing a methodology for the classification of river sections as eligible for the construction of hydropower plants. To support the integration of freshwater ecosystem values into the RBMPs, the REC began an assessment of the status of, and ecosystem services provided by, rivers and lakes in Bulgaria located outside the Natura 2000 Network, and also began the GIS-based mapping of ecosystem services.

Adaptation to the impacts of climate change on water resources

The REC is a member of the WATER CoRe Action Group, which is one of the partners in the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Water. The WATER CoRe Action Group supports the regional governance of water scarcity and drought issues through the implementation of regional action plans that are designed to improve water governance in practice, with a focus on connecting institutions in different domains and at different levels and scales. As regional focal point on water scarcity and drought issues, the REC continued to facilitate the access of key regional and local actors to existing knowledge, enabling them to create their own tailor-made approaches.

Water Management
Knowledge transfer is a key aspect of the topic area’s work to promote the principles of sustainable water management.