MEETING OF WORKING GROUPS ON UNECE CONVENTION
The Meeting of Working groups chaired by Mr. George Constantin, Director of the Department of Water Resources of Romania, Mr. Bo Libert, Representative of UNECE, and Mr. Xavier Leflaive, Representative of and OEF, was preceded by the sixteenth meeting of the EUWI Working Group for EECCA area. Discussions were mainly focused on the National Policy Dialogues on IWRM (NPD) and water supply and sanitation (WSS) within the European Water Initiative (EUWI). The program operates since 2006 in Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Moldova, and from 2010 - in Azerbaijan, Georgia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. Currently, at the request of the Government of Kazakhstan the NAP program operates in Kazakhstan. Countries reported the results and achievements within this activity:
- Armenia implemented the IWRM program at the Marmarik river basin, and then at the Debred river basin. The pilot project on payment for environmental services is arranged in the 2010-2012. The document "Summary results and lessons learned from the IWRM implementation within the target results of Armenian National Policy Dialogues, including the economic and financial disciplines" was recognized.
- Azerbaijan began preparing a bilateral agreement with Georgia on the Kura River in the framework of ENVSEC program, as well as drafting the project on monitoring devices to improve water conservation in Azerbaijan, as well as two pilot projects.
- Georgia joined to Azerbaijan in the Kura river project, organized a committee, prepared a report on the water activity in Georgia, including preparation of tools for planning future dialogues on IWRM.
- Kyrgyzstan began work on the National Development Program in 2008, focusing its attention on organizing the Chu River Basin Council and development of action plan for providing country with drinking clean water. In 2010, the strategic plan for funding the WSS was developed, and currently the same National Development project for the Issyk-Kul was started. Denmark has provided an international expert for these works.
- Moldova has the biggest success in the three policy areas, including the Executive Order about collecting waste water from municipal sources. The government decision on achieving the purpose of water and land monitoring, as well organizing the Conciliation Commissions in the field of water and health was prepared. Consideration of climate change is provided at the last phase of NPD.
- Russia has focused on improving the legal, institutional and regulatory framework with involvement of private sector into WSS and development of appropriate recommendations and the federal law on water conservation and sanitation.
- Tajikistan has developed the IWRM working map. The main focus was to maintaining the water sector development, its strategy, including development of all the legal and institutional frameworks. Tajikistan focused on cooperation with Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan at the highest level of water hierarchy. The strengthening of transboundary cooperation on small rivers was considered with Kyrgyzstan, and information about work jointly with Afghanistan on the Amudarya was mentioned. Concerning this issue, a comment that cooperation without lower countries is impossible, was made. Development of main principles of water strategy was emphasized.
- Turkmenistan organized 2d meeting in April 2011, and created an inter-ministerial expert group to review national legislation on water with the adapted IWRM principles for Turkmenistan indicated in the 1992 Convention. A report about potential of Turkmenistan transition to the basin method was prepared.
- Ukraine produced two packages of political documents:
- Convention on adaptation of water policy of the European Union and Ukraine, according to the UNECE Directive on adaptation to climate change;
- ToR (Terms of Reference) for future climate change projects in the Dnieper River Basin.
In addition, a proposal on the road map of reform for creating a legal and institutional context to support the inter-ministerial coordination concerning water resources was prepared.
In his comments Prof. Dukhovny V.A. has stressed that interstate dialogue within "IWRM-Fergana" project in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan was organized earlier - in 2001 - through national coordination groups under leadership of deputy ministers and with participation of all the ministries interested in water management development. He made a presentation on development of capacity building of Central Asian organizations on implementation of IWRM, and demonstrated the leading role of Uzbekistan, where the IWRM implementation area reached 400 thousand hectares. Also the need for development of this program through organizing centers for dissemination of knowledge to the WUAs and farmers was emphasized.
Mr. Uzakbaev Ch., Deputy Head of Water Resources of Kyrgyzstan, has informed about development of international water law.
Mr. Anarbekov O., IWMI representative, developed a questionnaire on assessing IWRM implementation in EECCA countries. He was reprimanded that the principles of achievement are fundamentally different from those developed by SIC ICWC and IWMI in the "IWRM-Fergana" project. The impression is that Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, members of the Convention, receive less attention and financial investments from donors than those who reject the Convention (Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan).
Main task of the two working groups meeting on assessment of transboundary waters and IWRM was to review implementation of the work plan on the 1992 Convention for 2010-2012 and to consider proposals for development of the program for 2013-2015.
Significant progress in advancing the ratification process was noted. Turkmenistan announced the organization of political process, and a proposal to accede to the Convention has been sent for consideration by government. Kyrgyzstan has decided to accede to the Protocol on Water and Health and not to accede to the Convention. Participants discussed the implementation mechanism for the Convention concerning transboundary groundwaters.
The draft decision on accession of countries that are not UNECE members was considered. Three options were presented: option A was immediately rejected and options B and C were accepted for consideration, and the Convention Presidium should prepare a document for final discussion. Parties of Convention should consult with their governments on possible solutions to this issue and to inform the Secretariat before 15 August 2012, in order to enable the Secretariat to prepare appropriate solutions for consideration during six sessions of the Meeting of the Parties in Rome, 28-30 November, 2012.
During the discussion Prof. Dukhovny V.A. has expressed some doubts that weren't taken into consideration: "Recognizing the political significance of accession of countries, that are not UNECE members, at the same time whether it makes sense to expand the number of members of the Convention, given that currently financial resources aren't enough for existing number of UNECE members".
The draft work program for 2013-2015 was discussed in detail. Some comments concerning this program and related to a number of practical items on IWRM development namely about public participation, women involvement and achieving the water conservation goals, were made.
The letter with comments was sent to Ms. Bernardini, Secretary of the Convention, and to chairmen of two working groups. In this letter it is noted that the program areas 1 and 2, are mainly aimed at the states that are not parties of the Convention, and in fact some of them - Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan - everywhere speak against the two conventions of 1992 and 1997 because they believe that conventions aren't in the interests of the upper catchments. It is quite a strange situation, because countries of the Convention - both Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan - are involved into the work program to a very little degree. The issue of model provisions on transboundary groundwaters has been discussed in detail. It should be noted that this provision is more advanced and is quite a good tool against documents explaining the provisions of the Convention on the surface waters. The deadline for submission of final comments - July 31, 2012.
The parties also considered the special publication on assessment of interrelations between water, food and energy. Selecting basins for assessment of interrelations between food and energy was suggested. Prof. Dukhovny V.A. has proposed the Amudarya river basin, taking into consideration certain contradictions in this basin, and to assess environmental impact.
Information about special meeting devoted to 20 anniversary of Convention that will be held in Finland in September 2012, was given. Also efficiency of Rio +20 for further coping with water crisis was criticized by Ms. Sibylle Vermont, Head of the meeting of the Parties to the UNECE Water Convention. According her opinion, the Rio +20 documents are focused only on water and sanitation, without considering the need to develop water infrastructure for production development. Similar opinion was expressed at the WWC Board meeting.
Synergy between the 1997 UN Water Convention and the 1992 UNECE Water Convention was also discussed It was noted that speeding up ratification of the UN Convention is also very important. The representative of Green Cross said that currently 26 parties supported this Convention. And support by additional 9 states is needed in order the Convention enter into force. It was pointed out that certain provisions of supporting documents of the European Convention can dramatically increase the effectiveness of the UN Convention. I have raised a question about need to include works related to more accurate definition and development of provisions of both conventions concerning "fair and reasonable use" of transboundary waters up to practical recommendations. We sent appropriate proposals to the Council on Legal Issues a year ago.
It was also reported that Tajikistan will hold Assembly devoted to Rio +20.
Prof. Dukhovny V.A.,
Director of SIC ICWC