Representatives of national, regional and local authorities, water users associations, academia, members from the private sector, NGOs as well as representatives of international organizations and donor agencies met on 29 September 2011, in Podgorica, Montenegro for a National Consultation Meeting to discuss and elaborate on management issues, needs and actions for the sustainable management of the Drin river basin. Lake Skadar and Bojana river are the important parts of the basin that fall within Montenegro.
The meeting was opened by ministers responsible for water management in the basin: H.E. Mr. Tarzan Milosevic, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management, Montenegro; H.E. Mr. Stevo Temelkovski, Deputy Minister of Environment and Physical Planning, FYR Macedonia; H.E. Mr. Shpetim Rudi, Deputy Minister of Environment and Spatial Planning, Kosovo (U.N. administered region, S.C. Res. 1244). Others who also made opening statements were Mr. Bo Libert, Regional Adviser UNECE, Prof. Michael Scoullos, Chairman of GWP-Med; Ms. Thomais Vlachogianni, MIO-ECSDE representative. The ministers expressed their strong support to the Drin Dialogue and development of the cooperation in the Drin basin.
The Montenegrin National Consultation Meeting was the third in a series of meetings within the Drin Dialogue process. A National Consultation Meeting was organized in November 2010 in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and a second in April 2011 in Albania. A consultation meeting involving all countries sharing the basin will be organized later in November 2011.
In the National Consultation Meeting the main challenges in the Drin basin as well as possible responses were discussed. Water quality, development of tourism and hydropower were among the issues debated, as were the recurrent serious floods of recent years. The establishment of a joint commission to enhance transboundary cooperation for the sustainable management of the extended Drin basin was suggested as an important step to take.
On the following day (30 September 2011), the 4th Drin Core Group Meeting discussed the results of the national consultation. The Drin Core Group agreed on a text for a Memorandum of Understanding between the Riparians reflecting a Shared Strategic Vision for the joint management of the transboundary Drin basin. It is planned that this MoU will be signed by Ministers during a meeting in Tirana at the end of November.
Ms. Thomais Vlachogianni, who represents MIO-ECSDE in the Drin Core Group , briefly presented the main activities that MIO-ECSDE has undertaken since the very beginning of the Drin Dialogue, contributing directly and/or indirectly to a coordinated involvement of civil society, and particularly NGOs, in the process. These include: organization of networking meetings back-to-back with the National Consultations with representatives from national NGOs and other stakeholders; the development of a Mediterranean Environmental NGOs database within the framework of the MedPartnership project, which can facilitate the involvement of NGOs in the Drin Dialogue process; communication and awareness raising actions; presentations at meetings, capacity building activities targeted to NGOs, enhancement of synergies between the MedPartnership and Horizon2020 CB/MEP, etc.
At the Drin Core Group Meeting MIO-ECSDE was invited to accelerate its efforts in support of the Drin Dialogue and develop a communication strategy before the upcoming consultation at transboundary level (November 2011).
Back-to-back with the above mentioned meetings, an H2020 CB/MEP training was organized in Podgorica on the “Effective involvement of NGOs and Media in the implementation of the H2020 Initiative”. The Drin Dialogue was presented to the participants as well as MIO-ECSDE’s efforts to mobilize NGOs and involve them in the process so as to eventually reach the desired objective of a sustainable development in the region.
Note to the editor
The Drin Dialogue is a structured consultation process launched on December 1st, 2009 which aims to establish a Shared Vision for the management of the extended Drin River Basin. The Drin Dialogue is conducted within the frameworks of the UNECE Water Convention and the Petersberg Phase II / Athens Declaration Process. Activities within the Dialogue contribute directly to and are part of the Mediterranean Component of the EU Water Initiative and of the GEF MedPartnership. The Drin Dialogue is facilitated by UNECE and the Global Water Partnership-Mediterranean (GWP-Med) and is financially supported by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. It is also supported by MIO-ECSDE.
The Mediterranean Information Office for Environment Culture and Sustainable Development (MIO-ECSDE) as member of the Drin Core Group has committed itself to support the dialogue at regional level (politically, technically, through communication/awareness raising actions, etc); to contribute in establishing a common understanding and shared vision via the coordinated involvement of civil society, and particularly NGOs, in the Drin Dialogue; to enhance the ability and capacity of its member and collaborating NGOs in order to act in an effective and constructive way.
The Drin Basin covers a geographical area that includes Albania, Greece, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo (U.N. administered region, S.C. Res. 1244) and Montenegro. The Drin River is the “connecting body” of this water system, linking the lakes, wetlands, rivers and other aquatic habitats into a single ecosystem of major importance. The region is very rich in endemic species and exceptional in terms of biodiversity conservation, and so has great potential for the development of sustainable tourism.
The UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Water and International Lakes (Water Convention) is an important legal framework for transboundary water management in the pan-European region. Currently, 35 countries and the European Community are Parties to the Convention. The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Montenegro are preparing for accession; Albania and Greece are already Parties.
The Global Water Partnership-Mediterranean (GWP-Med) is a platform bringing together competent organizations working on water issues in the Mediterranean region. Created in 2002, this NGO promotes and exchanges knowledge on integrated water resources’ management for the sustainable use of the region’s water resources. GWP-Med is the technical secretariat of the Petersberg Phase II/Athens Declaration Process for Southeast Europe, a framework for the development of transboundary water cooperation in the region.