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The end of the GEF Drin Project finds the Drin Riparians stronger and marks the beginning of a new phase in cooperation

High-level representatives of the five Riparians and Stakeholders from across the Drin basin confirm their commitment to support joint sustainable management and development efforts.

High-level representatives from the five Riparians and stakeholders from throughout the Drin participated in the 8th Drin Stakeholders Conference that took place on Friday, July  9th.  The online event, organized in the framework of Drin Coordinated Action (Drin CORDA) for the implementation of the Drin Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and the supporting GEF/UNDP Project entitled “Enabling Transboundary Cooperation and Integrated Water Resources Management in the Extended Drin River Basin” (GEF Drin Project) reviewed the overall progress regarding the cooperation for the management of the Drin Basin and discussed steps ahead.

                                                                   

The GEF Drin project supported work in order to “Promote joint management of the shared water resources of the transboundary Drin River Basin, including coordination mechanisms among the various sub-basin joint commissions and committees”. It has been the main vehicle of support for the implementation of the 2011 Drin MoU and pivotal in creating the conditions for closer cooperation among the Drin Riparians for the management of the Drin Basin. The operationalization of the Drin Core Group (DCG), constituting it the de facto joint coordination body, was the most significant result. The Strategic Action Programme -endorsed on 24 April 2020- including the steps and activities to address the main transboundary problems, and the Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis are the key outputs of the GEF Drin project underpinning and carving the future course of action.

Representatives of the Drin Riparians and international organisations in the region presented their views regarding the present and the future of cooperation for the management of the Drin Basin and the contribution of the Drin Project in this respect. There was a consensus on action towards enhanced forms and arrangements of transboundary cooperation.

In her introductory statement Ms Gerta Lubonja, General Director of Water Resources Management Agency, Albania, stated “We have been and will continue to be committed to working for the sustainable development of the Drin Basin this unique natural resource that provides a wealth of services and benefits to humans throughout the basin”.  Ms. Kaja Sukova, State Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning, North Macedonia noted that “having in mind the goals within the Strategic action program as well the proposed measures I can confirm that North Macedonia is strongly supporting the possible new phase and project of implementation of the Strategic action Programme” while Izedin Bytyqi, Secretary General, of Ministry of Environment , Spatial planning and Infrastructure, Kosovo* asserted that “we believe that together we contribute to opening new opportunities for resolving the jointly identified Issues, and for protecting the unique hydrologic and biodiversity values of the Drin Basin”.

The Secretary General of Natural Environment and Water of the Hellenic Ministry of Environment and Energy, professor Konstantinos Aravossis, at his opening statement referred to the importance of the coordinated Drin Management and underlined the significant progress and achievements of the last ten years work. He made a reference at the High level meeting of the three Ministers of Environment (Greece, Albania and North Macedonia) that set the beginning of the joint bodies under the Prespa Agreement. Finally, he expressed the willingness of the Greek authorities for the continuation of the close cooperation in the future.

Mr. Dimitris Faloutsos, Drin Core Group Secretariat/GEF Drin Project Coordinator gave an overview of the results achieved in the past 5 years in terms of transboundary cooperation through action supported by the Drin project in the framework of the MoU, presented its main results as well as its future prospects regarding the enhancement of transboundary cooperation. “The GEF Drin project ends and finds the Drin Riparians and cooperation among them, stronger” Mr. Faloutsos said. He went on to point out that “the end of this phase signals the initiation of a new one during which the Drin Riparians will discuss the enhancement of their cooperation and the implementation of the Strategic Action Programme.”  

                                                                    

Ms. Limya Eltayeb, Resident Representative, UNDP Albania stated “Challenging issues faced in the Drin Basin nowadays but also to our coast as integrated natural systems relate to overexploitation and pollution which associated with climate change impacts hamper the ability of ecosystems to adapt and regenerate. Through SDG 14 progress Drin Riparians will testimony how regional cooperation can be built and sustained to successfully achieve coordinated management from source-to-sea. As Drin Riparians progress with EU agenda the implementation of the EU Water framework directive will be the driving force and UNDP will further support with joint actions for Drin and further.”

Developmental partners active at the regional, basin and Riparian level provided insights on the projects and initiatives that they have been advancing, contributing in addressing national priorities but also directly or indirectly in the implementation of the Drin Strategic Action Programme. Discussion continued among participants on the priorities among the SAP actions as well as about on-going and future interventions and how these may facilitate the implementation of the Drin SAP and the enhancement of coordinated management of the Drin Basin.

The developmental partners will have a significant role to play in this new phase of transboundary cooperation. An annual coordination meeting between them and the Drin Core Group was called upon.

 The GEF Drin Project “Enabling Transboundary Cooperation and Integrated Water Resources Management in the Extended Drin River Basin” is being implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and executed by GWP-Mediterranean (GWP-Med) in cooperation with UNECE.

 

 

*This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.

8th Drin Multi-Stakeholders conference

A Partnership web-based event discussing the future of cooperation in the Drin Basin in the framework of the Drin Coordinated Action Process

 

The 8th Drin  Stakeholders Conference, a web-based partnership event that will discuss transboundary cooperation for the management of the Drin Basin, will take place online on Friday, 9 July 2021, 10:00 -13:00 hrs (CET).

Interested participants are invited to register by filling-in the online Registration Form available here.

The event is organized in the framework of the Drin Coordinated Action (CORDA) for the implementation of the Drin Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and the supporting GEF/UNDP Project entitled “Enabling Transboundary Cooperation and Integrated Water Resources Management in the Extended Drin River Basin” (GEF Drin Project). Please find attached the draft agenda.

 The GEF Drin Project has been the main vehicle of support for the implementation of the 2011 Drin MoU and pivotal in creating the conditions for closer cooperation among the Drin Riparians for the management of the Drin Basin. The operationalization of the Drin Core Group (DCG), constituting this the de facto joint coordination body, was the most significant result. The Strategic Action Programme -endorsed on 24 April 2020- including the steps and activities to address the main transboundary problems identified through the Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis are the key outputs of the GEF Drin project underpinning and carving the future course of action. 

During the online event, stakeholders of all levels will have the opportunity to review the progress on cooperation for the management of the Drin Basin, discuss steps ahead and learn: 

  • about the main outcomes achieved under the leadership and guidance of the Drin Riparians through the Drin Core Group and
  • the opportunities it created for the future, to enhance cooperation and impactful action towards sustainable natural resources management.

Furthermore, in addition to the GEF Drin project, there have been significant interventions and investments in the Drin Basin area and its sub-basins implemented with the support of a number of organizations, institutions and donor countries. These interventions have contributed to addressing national priorities, and directly or indirectly in the implementation of the Drin Strategic Action Programme. These will be also presented during the online event.

Finally, the views of Drin Basin actors regarding the needs and opportunities for a cooperative and sustainable future for the Drin basin will be reflected in this partnership event.

The organization of the event is in line with the Drin MoU that in its Article 5 Implementation and Monitoring, indicates “(…) Understanding the need for the implementation of the Strategic Shared Vision to reflect the views of the stakeholders the Parties call for an annual meeting of stakeholders from the Drin Riparians (…)”.

Learn more about the Drin project's main results and achievements here 

Watch the Drin Animated Story, that will take you on a journey through the Drin's complex water system and the challenges it faces here   

Read the press release of the event here

The Drin Animated Story

It is with great pride that we present the Drin Animated Story!

A series of 4 animation videos in total will take you on a journey through the Drin’s complex water system and the challenges it faces; these were identified though the joint efforts to enhance transboundary cooperation implemented by the Drin Riparians with the assistance of the GEF/UNDP/GWP-Med Drin Project.

Watch the introductory video to get a taste of what is about to follow. And stay tuned for the first episode of the Drin Animated Story next week.

Drin Animated Story Introduction - English subtitles:

You can use the following links to watch the video with ALB, MKD and MNE subtitles.

 

Episode 1: Variability of Hydrological and Sediment Transport Regime; Human Activity disturbs the flow of Water and Sediment. 

Two years of co-coordinated scientific work condensed in a 3-minute animated video: we are proudly presenting Episode 1 of the Drin Animated Story! Watch and learn more about the key transboundary challenges facing the Drin river basin. Episode 1 takes you on a journey through the Drin’s complex hydrological system, resembling the human vascular system, analysing the challenges it faces. The analysis was undertaken through the GEF Drin project, implemented by UNDP and executed by GWP-Med, using input from scientists, stakeholders, experts, governments and institutions to develop the Drin Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis, over a period of nearly two years.

Watch episode 1English subtitles: 

 

You can use the following links to watch the video with ALB, MKD and MNE subtitles. 

 

Episode 2: Deterioration of Water Quality: Human Activity pollutes the Drin Water System

What are the key sources of pollution in the Drin basin, threatening humans and ecosystems alike? Episode 2 of the Drin Animated Story illustrates the hidden ‘journey’ of harmful pollutants, often unseen to the naked eye, but with a profound and lasting impact on people, nature and economic prospects.

Following a systematic methodology, the Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis that was developed under the GEF funded project, implemented by UNDP and executed by GWP-Med, identified deterioration of water quality as one of the four transboundary issues that the Drin is facing.

Watch Episode 2 - English subtitles: 

 

You can use the following links to watch the video with ALB, MKD and MNE subtitles. 

Episode 3: Biodiversity Degradation, human activity disturbs the ecosystem. 

How has the Drin’s “natural infrastructure”, been affected by human activities? The final episode of the Drin Animated story explains how the Drin river’s biodiversity, ecosystems, habitats as well as the benefits they provide for the Drin’s inhabitants been impacted.

Biodiversity degradation has been identified as the fourth transboundary problem under the GEF project implemented by UNDP and executed by GWP-Med.

Watch Episode 3 - English subtitles

 

You can use the following links to watch the video with ALB, MKD and MNE subtitles.

Lake Ohrid: the new member of the Ramsar family of Wetlands of International Importance

A 5-million year old lake at the heart of the Western Balkans, which combines historical monuments and ecological treasures and is home to more than 300 endemic species, and with over 130,000 people living along its shores, Lake Ohrid is definitely a natural treasure worth protecting. In recognition of its unique value, the lake has just been set to become a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention. At the same time, the recently adopted Lake Ohrid Watershed Management Plan, the second transboundary plan in the Western Balkans in accordance with the EU Water Framework Directive, comprises more than 100 concrete measures aiming to protect its natural resources.

The city of Ohrid, North Macedonia. © 2S Studio.

 

Lake Ohrid’s unique characteristics

With a maximum depth of 290 meters, straddling the mountainous region between the southwest part of North Macedonia and the eastern part of Albania, Lake Ohrid is one of the oldest and deepest lakes in Europe. It is located at an altitude of 693 meters above sea level and covers an area of 358 km2. The hydrological regime of the lake is dominated by inflow of water from the nearby Lake Prespa via karstic aquifers, while the outflow occurs through the Black Drin river in the town of Struga.

 

Reed Belt near Struga City, North Macedonia. © 2S Studio

 

A unique aquatic ecosystem that supports lives and economies

With an estimated age of 2 to 5 million years, Lake Ohrid is a deep, calcium bicarbonate-dominated, oligotrophic lake that represents a unique aquatic ecosystem. Of the 1,200 registered animal species in the lake, 212 are considered endemic. The importance of the lake is further emphasized with its declaration as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979 (North Macedonia part) and 2019 (Albania part).

 

The Drilon Wetland in Pogradec, Albania. © 2S Studio

 

Nearly 131,000 people live directly on the lake’s shoreline and, with all its amenities and values, the lake sustains economic activities such as fishing, agriculture, hydropower and tourism. In fact, tourism is one of the key activities in the region, making Lake Ohrid the most important tourism center of North Macedonia.

The Valuation of Ecosystems Services of Lake Ohrid was one of the key documents that informed the Lake Ohrid Watershed Management Plan. For more information, visit: https://www.gwp.org/en/GWP-Mediterranean/WE-ACT/News-List-Page/2021/valuing-lake-ohrid/

 

Years of efforts to protect the Lake and its unique treasures

For nearly twenty years, there have been several efforts and agreements to protect the Lake and its unique characteristics. On July 17 2004, the countries sharing the Lake Ohrid watershed signed an “Agreement between the Council of ministers of the Republic of Albania and the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia for the sustainable development of Lake Ohrid and its watershed“, which was ratified by parliaments of both countries in 2005. The Agreement stipulated that both sides are “Conscious of the need for a holistic approach to protecting water quality and conservation of the integrity of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems of the Lake Ohrid Watershed”.[1] In the framework of the Agreement, according to Article 7, a joint Lake Ohrid Bilateral Committee was established as the first transboundary joint body of its kind in Western Balkans. The Committee functioned smoothly for several years before becoming inoperative, and then became operative again in January 2020, mainly through the GEF Drin Project. 

An integrated management plan: the missing link

Lake Ohrid’s unique flora, fauna, fragile habitats and ecosystems, as well as the ecosystem services that they provide to society’s well being and economy, face a number of threats. Pressures such as urban development, intensive agriculture, deforestation, illegal waste dumping, overfishing and pollution have caused poor water status, eutrophication, declining fish stocks and habitat destruction. As a result, a number of species, such as the emblematic Ohrid trout are under threat and the benefits that societies enjoy are also compromised. 

The missing link for effective protection was the absence of a concrete set of measures, forming a specific plan accepted by both countries that would address in an integrated manner the environmental challenges that the lake is facing.

 

A wooden bridge over the Drilon wetland in Pogradec, Albania. © 2S Studio

 

The GEF Drin Project “Enabling Transboundary Cooperation and Integrated Water Resources Management in the Extended Drin River Basin”, implemented by UNDP and executed by GWP-Med, set out from the onset of its implementation back in 2016 to develop a transboundary Watershed Management Plan for Lake Ohrid, as one of the project’s pilot interventions.

In 2018, a consultation process began with the engagement of all relevant stakeholders and institutions from Albania and North Macedonia, involving meetings with local government officials and businesses, focus group and expert group meetings as well as national consultation meetings in both countries. A year later, the first surveillance monitoring to cover the total of the lake’s basin was implemented, in order to gather scientific data and assess the ecological status of the Lake, together with an economic analysis and a valuation of its ecosystem services.

 

Lake Ohrid transboundary Monitoring Campaign. © D. Panovski

In November 2020, the Lake Ohrid Watershed Management Plan (LOWMP) was approved by the respective authorities of North Macedonia and Albania. The LOWMP aims to enable the sustainable management of Lake Ohrid’s natural resources. Its Programme of Measures includes more than 100 measures designed to prevent further deterioration of water resources and ecosystems, promote sustainable water use, improve water resource and ecosystem quality, and contribute to the mitigation of floods and droughts in the area. It is only the second plan in Southeast Europe developed according to the EU Water Framework Directive. It is in accordance with national legislation and was deliberated by the bilateral Lake Ohrid Watershed Committee, consisting of political representatives from both countries.

The journey for protection will continue

The Programme of Measures that the LOWMP has set out will progressively start being implemented with the support of local stakeholders and authorities, as well as the respective ministries of both North Macedonia and Albania. Two main sets of actions will be initiated with a focus on Nature-     based Solutions for water and protection of the remaining wetlands and reed belts in the watershed.

Reed belt next to the outflow of Drin river from the Lake, North Macedonia. © 2S Studio

Above all, the recent designation of Lake Ohrid as a Wetland of international importance provides international recognition of its unique natural value. It is a welcome sign that emboldens current efforts to protect the life, waterbodies, wetlands and water quality of the lake, and the multitude of benefits it provides to thousands of residents and visitors as well as the generations to come. And finally, the Lake Ohrid Watershed Management Plan will assist in meeting the obligations arising under the Ramsar Convention. 

 



[1] The Agreement was a signal that the countries are “Recognizing their relevant obligations under, in particular, the Convention concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, especially as Waterfowl H     abitats (the Ramsar Convention), the convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (the Espoo Convention), The Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice  in Environmental  Matters (The Aarhus Convention), the Convention on the Conservation of Wild Flora and Fauna and their Habitats in Europe (The Berne Convention) and the Convention on the Conservation of the Migratory species (The Bonn Convention)’’.

Drin Riparian representatives trained at the Drin Information Management System

On 25 March 2021, GWP-Med organised a training on the newly developed Drin Information Management System. It was attended by 17 representatives from related ministries, institutions, local governments, NGOs and international organizations active within the Drin basin.
Drin Riparian representatives trained at the Drin Information Management System

IMS Training

On 25 March 2021, GWP-Med organised a training on the newly developed Drin Informational Management System. It was attended by 17 representatives from related ministries, institutions, local governments, NGOs and international organizations active within the Drin basin.

What is the Drin Information Management System?

The Drin Information Management System (IMS) is a new comprehensive online platform for data collection and information exchange among Drin Riparians on basin management. Specifically, the IMS will be used as a repository of data collected through the Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis, which provides information on transboundary problems affecting the basin’s water and environment but also as a platform to enable joint data collection, storage and exchange, including GIS functionalities.

 

The main users of the platform will be Ministries and Institutions from the Drin Riparians responsible for water management and environment (including Hydrometeorological institutes and Water directorates), members of the Drin Core Group, project partners as well as international organizations providing support to the Drin Riparians.   

The Drin IMS has a number of advantages. It offers visualization of information, customized reports according to the user’s requirements and all this in a user-friendly online environment with no cost. It is already populated with baseline data that include results from national monitoring programmes, as well as other surveys.  

Content of the IMS hands-on training

During the training, participants learned the basic functionalities of the IMS (create entry for sampling site, how to insert related monitoring parameters and how to upload and download related sampling site datasets). Practical exercises familiarized them with the interface and provided hands on experience on the IMS features.

The platform, now in its final stage, is available at dringis.org. Although it is primarily developed to serve institutions from the Drin Riparians (Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Kosovo1, including Greece) when finalized, the invitation to register and use the platform will be extended to academia, NGOs, consultants, as well as the general public.

The development of the IMS is one of the pilot projects developed under the Global Environment Facility (GEF) supported Project “Enabling transboundary cooperation and integrated water resources management in the extended Drin River Basin” (GEF Drin Project). The aim of these pilots is to allow countries to accrue direct experience on approaches, technologies, practices and organizational settings novel to the region and test their cost effectiveness and feasibility in the regional context, as well as their cooperative arrangements.

The training videos are available here below

Tutorial 1 can be found here:  https://youtu.be/1KvVtGWdIPI

Tutorial 2 can be found here: https://youtu.be/Y3TEZj0J7xc

Tutorial 3 can be found here: https://youtu.be/_4fqkCA0kt0



[1] This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.

 

Valuing Lake Ohrid

Set in a majestic landscape dominated by high ranges and stroked by winds of the Adriatic and the Aegean, Lake Ohrid is protected by UNESCO World Heritage status and shared between Albania and North Macedonia. The  lake sustains economic activities such as fishing, agriculture, hydropower and tourism and hosts more than 300 endemic species. However, in recent years, it faces a number of challenges such as declining fish stocks, eutrophication, habitat destruction and poor water status. To address these challenges, the transboundary Lake Ohrid Watershed Management Plan was developed under the coordination of Global Water Partnership – Mediterranean (GWP-Med) in the frame of the GEF Drin Project, which promotes improved transboundary water management in the Drin river basin. The development of the Management Plan was the result of a two-year process, informed by transboundary data gathering, including the joint Lake Ohrid water quality surveillance monitoring campaign, an economic analysis and an analysis of ecosystem services in the region.

Ecosystems provide people with a flow of benefits, also termed ecosystem goods and services, which directly or indirectly contribute to human well-being. Such goods and services stemming from ecosystems’ processes may come in the form of various material or energy outputs (e.g. fresh water, food products, timber), but also the ways in which living systems moderate the environment (e.g. climate regulation, water and air quality, pollination), as well as non-material outputs that people obtain from contacts with ecosystems (e.g. recreational, aesthetic or spiritual experiences). The logic behind ecosystem service valuation is to render explicit these values in monetary units, to enable their incorporation in public decision-making processes.

 The results of the Ecosystem Services valuation realised under the GEF Drin project are summarized below. The total value – expressed in monetary units – of the ecosystem services of the Lake Ohrid Watershed in 2017 was estimated at $295.1 million. The unit value per area, taking into consideration the entire area of the watershed, equals $2,102/ha. Within this, the value of services of Lake Ohrid is $63.3 mill, or 21.4% of the total value; the value of services of forests, protected and agriculture areas within the watershed is $35.52 mill. (12% of the Total Economic Value); and the value of services that are related to the entire watershed is $196.55 mill, or 66.6% of the total value.

Total economic value of LOW ecosystem services

The Valuation of Ecosystem Services of Lake Ohrid was one of the key inputs informing the development of the Lake Ohrid Watershed Management Plan, which has now been approved by the responsible authorities of Albania and North Macedonia. The Lake Ohrid Watershed Management Plan is the second transboundary management plan in accordance to the EU Water Framework Directive developed in South East Europe. Its Programme of Measures includes more than 100 measures that will prevent further deterioration of water resources and ecosystems, promote sustainable water use, improve water resource and ecosystems quality, and contribute to the mitigation of floods and droughts in the area are included. The Management Plan is prepared to be the official instrument of cooperation between Albania and North Macedonia for the management of Lake Ohrid.

New Era for Lake Ohrid

The Lake Ohrid Watershed Management Plan was deliberated at the bilateral Lake Ohrid Watershed Committee meeting on Friday 27 November 2020, following its recent finalisation. The Management Plan has been recently approved by the responsible authorities of Albania and North Macedonia. The Committee, consisting of political representatives from both countries, met online to discuss the final Management Plan and possible next steps towards its implementation.

The meeting was organised on the joint initiative of Mayor of Ohrid, Mr Konstantin Georgieski, Chairman of the Lake Ohrid Watershed Committee, and GWP-Med, as executive organisation of the  GEF Drin Project. The Committee commended the finalisation of the Management Plan, noting that it marks an important step towards the protection of Lake Ohrid, a biodiversity hotspot of European importance which is home to 170,000 people.

 Lake Ohrid, a UNESCO World Heritage site shared between Albania and North Macedonia, sustains economic activities such as fishing, agriculture, hydropower and tourism and hosts more than 300 endemic species. However, in recent years the Lake faces a number of challenges such as declining fish stocks, eutrophication, habitat destruction and poor water status. To address these challenges, the transboundary Lake Ohrid Watershed Management Plan was developed under the coordination of Global Water Partnership – Mediterranean (GWP-Med) in the frame of the GEF Drin Project, which promotes improved transboundary water management in the Drin river basin.

The development of the Management Plan was the result of a two-year process, informed by transboundary data gathering, including the joint Lake Ohrid water quality surveillance monitoring campaign, an economic analysis and an analysis of ecosystem services in the region.

Mayor of Pogradec, Mr Ilir Xhakolli, commended the development of the Management Plan and noted that the institutions should work on implementing the measures from the Plan. He also informed of action already taken by Albania in the field of liquid and solid waste management.

Mayor of Ohrid, Mr Georgieski, found the document very important for the future of the region and expressed the willingness to continue joint efforts for prioritizing the measures and soliciting funding for their implementation.

Mr. Dimitris Faloutsos, Deputy Regional Coordinator, GWP-Med, expressed his contentment for the finalization of the Plan and for servicing in this way the efforts of the Bilateral Committee and the national responsible authorities for the coordinated management of Lake Ohrid and its watershed.

Mr. Dejan Panovski, Senior Programme Officer, GWP-Med and National Coordinator for North Macedonia, GEF Drin project, greeted the committed leadership by the Bilateral committee and called for a process of prioritising the measures, to facilitate their implementation.

The Lake Ohrid Watershed Management Plan is the second transboundary management plan in accordance to the EU Water Framework Directive developed in South East Europe. Its Programme of Measures includes more than 100 measures that will prevent further deterioration of water resources and ecosystems, promote sustainable water use, improve water resource and ecosystems quality, and contribute to the mitigation of floods and droughts in the area are included.

The Management Plan is prepared to be the official instrument of cooperation between Albania and North Macedonia for the management of Lake Ohrid.

The development of the Lake Ohrid Watershed Management Plan is one of the Pilot Activities in the frame of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Drin Project, which is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and executed by Global Water Partnership – Mediterranean (GWP-Med) in partnership with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).

Technical Webinar on Groundwater Monitoring

Under the GEF Drin Project, a Technical Webinar on “Monitoring Strategies in Transboundary Aquifers: Goals, Methods and Tools - The case study of Skadar/Shkoder – Buna/Bojana Delta transboundary alluvial aquifer” is being held on 20 October 2020.

Background

Structured monitoring strategies are paramount to achieving sustainable groundwater resources management and meeting environmental goals. In the case of transboundary aquifer management, structured approaches are necessary in order to facilitate agreement on joint monitoring strategies among the involved countries; once in place, these strategies can enhance trust and cooperation for the management of transboundary water resources.

Content

The Webinar Monitoring Strategies in Transboundary Aquifers: Goals, Methods and Tools - The case study of Skadar/Shkoder – Buna/Bojana Delta transboundary alluvial aquifer” will analyze existing groundwater monitoring strategies, tools and methods for transboundary aquifers and will provide guidelines on how to design monitoring plans that are compliant with EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) regulations and national frameworks. It will also provide specific guidelines for the operation of a monitoring network in the particular two-hydrogeology context (coastal area and inland alluvial aquifer) as applied in the Global Environment Facility Drin project.

Technical webinar

Who should attend?
The Webinar is targeted to administration officials in charge of water resources management, professionals and technicians involved in monitoring plans, environmental professionals and stakeholders concerned with the management of transboundary aquifers and/or the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive or similar regulations.

REGISTER HERE

More information: Agenda and Concept Note.

The workshop is organised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in partnership with the Global Water Partnership – Mediterranean (GWP-Med).



The Drin basin’s fascinating biodiversity was the protagonist during the 7th Drin Day celebration by all Riparians

More than 180 representatives of NGOs, academia, youth centers, schools and media participated in the 2020 Drin Day celebrations throughout all Riparian countries, while more than few thousands attended online, due to this year’s COVID-19 pandemic imposed limitations. Nature lovers from Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Kosovo* remained faithful to their annual date and celebrated Drin Day, which aims to raise awareness and inspire collective and transboundary actions towards protecting the Drin River Basin and its freshwater ecosystems.

More than 180 representatives of NGOs, academia, youth centers, schools and media participated in the 2020 Drin Day celebrations throughout all Riparian countries, while more than few thousands attended online, due to this year’s COVID-19 pandemic imposed limitations. Nature lovers from Albania, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Kosovo* remained faithful to their annual date and celebrated Drin Day, which aims to raise awareness and inspire collective and transboundary actions towards protecting the Drin River Basin and its freshwater ecosystems. 

In Kosovo and Albania, 88 students and youth “Gave Life to Drin biodiversity” by joining a Facebook and Instagram competition with pictures, videos, presentations, drawings and essays inspired by the Drin River and its biodiversity while two videos were produced on the biodiversity and the issues affecting the basin. 26 of them went on a two-day camping trip in Gjakova to explore first-hand the impact of human activities on the river eco-habitat and learn about river restoration.

In Montenegro, three online lectures on Drin’s biodiversity were followed by an online competition with questions relating to Drin’s flora and fauna. Winners together with volunteers and biology students participated in the educational camping trip organized in Ada Bojana. During the trip,  they explored the Drin’s biology and avifauna through lectures on the famous European eel and its importance for the area, they learned about its cultural heritage and the ancient city of Svač and observed the birds of Lake Shas. 

In North Macedonia, students from three elementary schools had the opportunity to learn more about the river, its wetlands and springs during the online courses given by Dr. Suzana Patcheva from the Hydrobiological Institute. Prior to the courses, the students watched three documentary videos that were especially commissioned for Drin Day 2020, depicting the natural beauties of the Springs of the Black Drin River on the North Macedonian side, Koselska River and Belchista Wetland. Celebrations were concluded with a cruise through Sateska river, Koselska River and Black Drin River, fully respecting all COVID -19 health protocols.

At the Youth Centre Arka in Shkoder, Albania a photography exhibition entitled “Biodiversity through Photography” was organized presenting the different animals and species of the local lake. 

The Drin Day celebration amidst the COVID-19 pandemic in all Riparians proved that celebrating nature only requires commitment, creativity and love for one’s home. It is proof of how a river’s natural beauty can unite and inspire, regardless of age and space limitations.

 

Drin Day 2020 events & dates:

In North Macedonia, the cruise/event “New Normal in Protection of the biodiversity of the Drin Basin River” took place on the 26th of July.

In Montenegro, the educational camp took place from July 7th-July 8th.

In Kosovo, the social media campaign took place from July 1st to July 15th, the video was produced from July 1st to the 11th of August and the camping from July 25th- July 26th.  

In Albania, the exhibition “Biodiversity through Photography” took place from the 7th of September and lasted for two weeks.

 

Acknowledgments:

This year’s Drin Day celebrations would not have been possible without the contribution of:

“CBC Innovation Hub” (Kosovo), “Youth Center Borderless” (Albania), Youth Centre Arka in Shkoder the Instituti I Librit dhe I Promocionit and Human NGO, Green Home (Montenegro), Center for Sustainable Community Development from Debar, Regional Green Center Ohrid (N.Macedonia)

The Drin Project is financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and executed by the Global Water Partnership – Mediterranean (GWP-Med), in partnership with United Nations Commission for Europe (UNECE).

 

 

 

Lake Ohrid Transboundary Management Plan presented at North Macedonia National Consultation Meeting

The Lake Ohrid Watershed Management Plan was presented and discussed with representatives from all related authorities of North Macedonia marking another step towards its official adoption.

On Monday 28th of September 2020, the draft Lake Ohrid Watershed Management Plan the second transboundary management plan in accordance to the EU Water Framework Directive developed in South East Europe, was presented at a national consultation meeting organized by the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning of North Macedonia, involving approximately 30 representatives from the competent Ministries, public institutions, local government, civil and scientific society in North Macedonia.

The Plan was developed under the coordination of GWP-Med as part of the activities in the framework of the GEF supported Enabling Transboundary Cooperation and Integrated Water Resources Management in the Extended Drin River Basin implemented by UNDP and executed by GWP-Med. The plan is in accordance with the national legislation and contains a Programme of Measures for the management of Lake Ohrid, an important transboundary water body shared between North Macedonia and Albania. The consultation meeting is part of the process for the official adoption of the plan by the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning.

The management plan is prepared to be the instrument of cooperation between Albania and North Macedonia for the management of Lake Ohrid, a biodiversity hotspot with more than 300 endemic species and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

(c) 2S Studios 

The Lake supports the livelihoods of about 170,000 residents, sustaining economic activities such as fishing, agriculture, hydropower and tourism. However, in recent years the Lake faces a number of challenges such as declining fish stocks, eutrophication, habitat destruction and poor water status.

To address these challenges, the transboundary Lake Ohrid Watershed Management Plan (LOWMP) was informed by transboundary data gathering, including the joint Lake Ohrid water quality surveillance monitoring campaign, an economic analysis and an analysis of ecosystem services in the region. It is one of five pilot activities implemented under the GEF Drin Project, which promotes improved transboundary water management in the Drin river basin.

“The Plan is the result of a nearly two-year process that for the first time collected and analysed all scientific data relating to the watershed, including scientific, legal and socio-economic data of both Riparians. It is developed in accordance with the EU WFD and the national legislation of Albania and North Macedonia. This Plan, jointly with Prespa Lake Management Plan will be an integral part of the entire Drin Basin Management Plan” stated  Mr. Ylber Mirta – Head of the Water Sector, Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning.

(c) 2S Studios

At the online consultation meeting, participants recognized the value of the LOWMP as a necessary step towards sustainably managing this important ecosystem, addressing the Lake’s common challenges and promoting cross sectoral cooperation within each riparian country in the framework of  the EU Water Framework Directive. It includes over 100 measures that will prevent further deterioration of water resources and ecosystems, promote sustainable water use, improve water resource and ecosystems quality, and contribute to the mitigation of floods and droughts. 

In the coming months, the corresponding national consultation meeting will take place in Albania, with a view to finalizing the LOWMP by the end of 2020.

The development of the Lake Ohrid Watershed Management Plan is in the frame of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Drin Project, which is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and executed by Global Water Partnership – Mediterranean (GWP-Med) in partnership with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).

 

New decision support tool to assist wastewater management in Drin basin

The new Wastewater Management Decision Support Tool (WEMDST), a pilot within the GEF Drin Project, will help local planners identify environmentally efficient and cost-efficient solutions.

On 1 July 2020, more than 30 local planners, national experts and stakeholders took part in the online Consultation Meeting on the new Wastewater Management Decision Support Tool (WEMDST), a Pilot project in the frame of the GEF Drin Project. Modelled on the case of Shkodra city, the WEMDST assists the planning of new wastewater treatment plants and solutions on catchment or city level, helping to identify environmentally efficient and cost-efficient solutions.

Mayor Voltana Ademi, who on behalf of Shkodra municipality has been directly involved in the tool’s planning and development, expressed her thanks to everyone involved and stated that “this example will be helpful as a model for implementation in the next years, providing a good basis for analysis and improvement.” Ms Ademi also stressed the importance of the tool in communicating planning decisions transparently: “We can use this model to present scenarios and calculations, helping people of all backgrounds to understand the costs and benefits of wastewater treatment alternative options."

In his introductory remarks, Dimitris Faloutsos, Drin Project Coordinator and Deputy Regional Coordinator,GWP-Med, noted that: “The  Drin riparians are engaged in a wide-ranging effort for the protection and sustainable development of the Drin basin, which culminated in the recent endorsement of the Drin Strategic Action Programme. We take great pride in seeing that Mayor Ademi and Shkodra Municipality find this decision support tool, which was developed as a pilot demonstration activity, useful in relation to their efforts to address pollution in the wider Shkodra area.”

The online consultation was facilitated by Ms Erjola Keci, Senior Programme Officer, Country Officer for Albania of the GEF/UNDP Drin Project, GWP-Med. Ms Keci invited experts from LIMNOS company, who have been in charge of the technical development of WEMSDT, to go through a step-by-step demonstration of the WEMSDT user-friendly web interface, which makes accessible information on the current state of river quality in the Drin river and predicts river quality and indicative investment and operating infrastructure costs for various scenarios. The presentations were followed by lively discussion and insightful comments on various aspects of its practical implementation. 

The input provided by the stakeholders will be considered for the finalization of appropriate solutions related to wastewater management. The tool will be accompanied by a “user manual” and respective trainings targeting users and planners in the four Drin riparian countries. 

 

The Wastewater Management Decision Support Tool (WEMDST) was developed as part of the pilot project addressing wastewater related issues in the Drin river basin, in the frame of the Global Environment Facility Project “Enabling Transboundary Cooperation and Integrated Water Resources Management in the Extended Drin River Basin” (Drin Project). It is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and executed by the Global Water Partnership – Mediterranean (GWP-Med).United Nations Economic Commission (UNECE) is a partner in this process.

Ministers endorse the Drin SAP

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High level representatives from the five Riparians virtually signed a joint statement today, thus endorsing the Strategic Action Programme (SAP) for the sustainable management of the Extended Drin Basin, directly benefiting its 1.6 million inhabitants. Shared among Albania, Greece, Kosovo*, Montenegro and North Macedonia (the five ‘Riparians’), the Drin River Basin provides water resources for drinking, energy, fishing and agriculture, biodiversity, tourism and industry.

This endorsement confirms the political will among the five Riparians to work across borders and sends a strong message that improved water resources management, which also yields benefits for public health and livelihoods, remains a priority and will continue to be pursued at the transboundary level, in spite of current difficulties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The current crisis underscores the vital importance of water for hygiene in the region and globally.

Watch the endorsement ceremony:

 

The development of the SAP, which comprises over 100 agreed policy and technical actions, has been supported by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Drin Project, which was designed to realize the Memorandum of Understanding for the sustainable management of the Drin Basin (Drin MoU), signed in Tirana on 25 November 2011 by the responsible Ministries of the Drin Riparians. The Drin Core Group (DCG), a joint body established through the Drin MoU to coordinate its implementation, and its Expert Working Groups, are fully operational, with women representing 30% and 60% of the members respectively. The Drin Project is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and executed by the Global Water Partnership – Mediterranean (GWP-Med). United Nations Economic Commission (UNECE) is a partner in this process.

Today’s signing is a step forward in implementing the Shared Vision of the sustainable management of the Drin Basin, set through the Drin MoU. The joint statement endorsing the SAP was signed by:

  • Mr Jani Makraduli, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning, North Macedonia; 
  • Prof. Konstantinos Aravossis, General Secretary, Natural Environment and Water, Ministry of Environment and Energy, Greece; 
  • Mr Izedin Bytyqi, Secretary General, Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment, Kosovo; 
  • Ms Gerta Lubonja, General Director, Agency for Water Resources Management, Albania; 
  • Mr Momčilo Blagojević, General Director, Directorate for Water Management, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Montenegro. 

 

The SAP was developed during the last year through an extensive consultation with over 200 stakeholders, including relevant Ministry representatives and technical experts. It sets out actions to address four transboundary issues that cause a number of negative effects to nature, society and the economy i.e. water pollution, biodiversity degradation, water and sediment flow disturbance, marking the first strategic document for shared water resources in the region. These transboundary issues were identified through an extensive scientific assessment of the Drin Basin, known as a Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA). The actions included in the SAP will also assist the Riparians in implementing water and environment related European Union (EU) Directives, such as the EU Water Framework Directive.  

The SAP will provide the main reference point to inform the coordinated management of the Drin Basin for years to come. The priority for the Riparians now is to identify sources of funding to implement the SAP, to ensure the sustainable management of the Drin Basin can be realized. 

Statements from the signatories:

H.E. Mr Jani Makraduli, Deputy Minister of Environment and Physical Planning, North Macedonia:

One of the lessons learned from COVID-19 pandemic is that it is important to have good cross-border and regional cooperation. The SAP plays two different roles: environmental, as an important step towards future joint management of the Drin Basin, and an important political message for regional cooperation. I would like to greet the support of the implementing agencies of the Drin Process and donor partners (GEF, UNDP, UNECE, GWP-Med). I strongly believe the SAP can contribute towards supporting the planned donor conference and it will further continue with the follow up of the implementation of the projects from the SAP.

 

Professor Konstantinos Aravossis, General Secretary, Natural Environment and Water, Ministry of Environment and Energy, Greece: 

With this Joint Declaration, the competent authorities of the Drin Riparians, appreciating the positive results of the actions undertaken so far, reaffirm the political will to continue cooperating towards the sustainable management of the Extended Drin River basin, in line with the principles and legal framework of the European Union and other bilateral and multilateral agreements concerning the region's sub-basins.

At the same time, they reaffirm their willingness to step up efforts to incorporate international conventions and protocols adopted by the parties and recognize environmental protection and conservation, as well as the sustainable management of water resources, as an integral part of the overall development of the region, through coordinated actions to address the problems identified.

 

Mr Izedin Bytyqi, Secretary General, Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment, Kosovo:

The adoption of SAP, for us represents a very important step forward, towards strengthening the joint management of shared water resources. The work done so far… serves as a strong foundation… to determine the common goals and objectives,… to further strengthen our cooperation, and to implement concrete activities to improve the water quality, reducing water stress, and reducing human impact in line with Integrated Water Resources Management and Water Framework Directive Principles. I also thank my colleagues from Albania, Greece, North Macedonia, and Montenegro for their cooperation. Looking forward to the next step, that is SAP implementation!

 

Ms Gerta Lubonja, General Director, Agency for Water Resources Management, Albania: 

At a time the world is locked down to defeat the coronavirus pandemic, it has never been more important to protect our water resources. In these unprecedented times, water is an indispensable weapon in fighting the disease, acting as a barrier to the virus and maintaining a decent standard of living for the millions of people who are confined to their homes. Because we have been working for more than 10 years now, with the conviction that we are managing an extraordinary shared resource, we will manage to remain focused in the implementation of Drini SAP and, despite everything, optimistic in these particularly difficult times.

 

Mr. Momčilo Blagojević, General Director of Directorate for Water Management, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Montenegro 

This is a very significant event for strengthening regional cooperation within the Drin Basin and it is our extreme pleasure to promote joint action for the coordinated management of the shared water resources in the Drin Basin. This joint statement will definitely frame future co-operation in years to come and we will continue to work with strong devotion in order to ensure the protection of the environment and better management of our water resources. 

 

Statements from the Drin Project Partners:

Mr Gustavo Fonseca, Director of Programs, Global Environment Facility:

The signing of the Strategic Action Programme for the extended Drin River basin marks an important step towards greater cooperation across borders and within the shared environmental resources that is embodied in a healthy, resilient Drin river ecosystem. It is heartening to witness the strong cooperation between economic sectors, political leaders, and those living in the basin across multiple countries, captured in the Strategic Action Programme. Shared river basins across the world stand to learn a lot from the spirit of cooperation and collaboration that the Drin River Basin is showcasing today.

 

Ms Limya Eltayeb, UNDP Resident Representative in Albania:

The endorsement of the Strategic Action Program - following a decade of work after the signing of the transboundary Memorandum of Understanding in Tirana in 2011, is an important step forward in setting out priority issues in the Drin Basin and how they can be addressed. This strategic document represents a shared vision at the benefit of 1, 6 million inhabitants and for sustainable development

 

Dr. Monika Weber-Fahr, Executive Secretary, Global Water Partnership: 

In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, the 5 Drin riparians are sending a strong message that improved and integrated water resources management will continue to be vigorously pursued, yielding benefits for livelihoods, economic growth and jobs, environment, health, and more. Servicing the Drin collaboration process for nearly a decade, GWP and GWP-Med can only feel proud of this achievement; we are thankful to our partners, the GEF, UNDP and UNECE, for their continuous support and joint action that has produced tangible results to the benefit of the Drin riparians. 

 

Mr Marco Keiner, Director of Environment Division, UNECE:

Transboundary cooperation in the Extended Drin River Basin has reached major milestones and brought important benefits, contributing to the implementation of the UNECE Water Convention by the Riparians.  This cooperation importantly also supports the achievement of SDGs notably SDG target 6.5 on integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation.

 

*All references to Kosovo are made in the context of UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999)

 

Developing strategic action for the management of the Drin Basin

GWP-Med leads development of Strategic Action Programme for Drin Basin
Developing strategic action for the management of the Drin Basin

Drin Basin

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Development of a Strategic Action Programme (SAP) for the Drin Basin has been achieved following extensive consultation led by GWP-Med under the GEF Drin Project, involving more than 200 stakeholders from Albania, Greece, Kosovo*, Montenegro and North Macedonia.  

The SAP, a negotiated document, comprises specific actions and interventions, agreed upon by all Riparian’s, to improve management of the Drin Basin. Stakeholders consulted in the development of the SAP include Ministry representatives and technical experts in the region. 

The Drin Basin is home to 1.6 million people who stand to benefit from improved management of the Basin, following the SAP’s implementation. The Drin Basin’s water resources are used for many purposes including drinking, fishing, agriculture, tourism, electricity and industry. 

The SAP reaffirms and builds upon the existing shared vision for the Drin Basin as set out in the Drin Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Riparians in 2011. 

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The Drin Core Group -the coordinating body for the Drin Basin- formed of officially appointed representatives of the Riparians Ministries (for which GWP-Med is Secretariat)has approved the SAP. The process concludes this week with the signing of Joint Statement for the endorsement of the SAP by high-level representatives, in each of the Riparian Ministries, confirming their intention to implement the actions of the SAP. 

By negotiating and endorsing the SAP at the highest possible level, the governments are indicating the priorities for the Riparians as well as the political will to enact these through coordinated efforts.  

Once the endorsement of the SAP is signed, the priority is to identify sources of funding to implement this. The SAP will provide the main reference document for years to come, to inform the coordinated management of the Drin Basin.  

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The 17th Drin Core Group Meeting, 30 - 31 May 2019, Prishtina

The development of the SAP was underpinned by a Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA) carried out by GWP-Med under the GEF Drin Project in 2017-18. The TDA is an objective assessment that pursues the best available verified scientific and technical information to examine the state of the environment and the root causes for its degradation. The analysis was carried out in a cross-sectoral manner, focusing on transboundary problems, while also taking into account national concerns and priorities. 

The main technical role of the TDA is to identify, quantify, and set priorities for environmental problems that are transboundary in nature.  

The TDA provided the factual basis for the formulation of the SAP. 

The Drin TDA adopted a ‘source-to-sea’ approach to analyse the causes and impacts of transboundary problems in the Drin Basin, informed by extensive consultation and six detailed thematic reports on:  

  1. Biodiversity 

  1. Pollution 

  1. Hydrology  

  1. Institutional and Legal Setting  

  1. Socio-economics  

  1. Water-Food-Energy-Ecosystems Nexus 

The TDA identified the main transboundary issues affecting the Drin Basin as: 

  1. Deterioration of water quality 

  1. Variability of the hydrological regime 

  1. Biodiversity degradation 

  1. Sediment transport 

Each of these issues are likely to be exacerbated by climate variability and change. 

The specific actions set out in the SAP acts as a framework to address these important issues.  

The Drin TDA assisted in enhancing the knowledge basis of the Drin Riparians and developed the building blocks of a Drin Basin Management Plan, in accordance to the European Union Water Framework Directive, should the Riparians decide to develop such a plan in the future. 

* All references to Kosovo are made in the context of UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999).

2Scenery photo credits: 2S Studio 

 

Ministers and high-level representatives to endorse Drin Strategic Action Programme

#JointAction4Drin

Amid the #CoronavirusPandemic, cross-border collaboration to tackle common challenges is needed more than ever! Ministers and high-level representatives from all 5 riparians of the Drin Basin will meet virtually to endorse the Strategic Action Programme. The Drin project sets out more than 100 agreed actions to enable sustainable water management in the Drin Basin, directly benefiting 1.6 million inhabitants.

Watch it live here at 15:00 CET, Friday 24 April: https://bit.ly/SAPsigning

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Online Training on Integrated Drought Management for the Drin River Basin

On 10 & 11 March 2020, more than 20 experts, water managers, scientists and representatives of authorities joined a training on Drought Management in the Drin Basin, organised by GWP-Med.

An online platform was used to virtually bring together participants from Albania, Greece, Kosovo*, North Macedonia and trainers from Slovenia. The focus was on enhancing capacities for a proactive approach to integrated drought planning, adaptation and management.

Drought 2

The training was carried out within the framework of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Drin Project, implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and executed by Global Water Partnership – Mediterranean (GWP-Med) in partnership with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), which promotes improved transboundary water management in the Drin river basin. Shared between 5 Riparians, the Drin river provides water resources for drinking, fishing, agriculture, tourism, energy and industry, impacting the livelihoods of 1.6 million people.

Mr. Rizah Hajdari, Senior Programme Officer, and National Coordinator for Kosovo Drin Project, GWP-Med, welcomed the participants, providing background on the training's objectives and its relevance to Integrated Drought Management in the Drin Basin, in the framework of GEF Drin Project. Mr Hajdari stressed the importance of integrated approaches at the transboundary level, to proactively address drought risk.

Drought 1

The training was adapted to the early stages of the coronavirus emergency: some participants attended the training from Pristina, Kosovo, while others joined by an online teleconference platform.

The Drin Basin, traditionally a flood-prone region, now increasingly faces the risk of droughts, due to higher climate variability associated with climate change. Given that the Mediterranean region has been identified as a climate change hotspot, drought risk is addressed  in the -approved by the Drin Core Group- Drin Strategic Action Program (SAP), which among other objectives, adopts the objective of “improved coordinated management among Riparians for drought risks by 2030.”

The training, which followed up and elaborated on recent discussions on Drought Management at the 7th Drin Stakeholder’s Conference, built on the three pillars of the Integrated Drought Management ProgrammeMonitoring and Early Warning Systems; Vulnerability Impact Assessment; Mitigation, Preparedness and Reponses and Drought Policy and Plans.

There was a strong focus on mapping available practical tools, including regional monitoring platforms, drought indicators and other resources. Gaps in specific countries were discussed, while possible measures and tools that can be implemented in the Drin Riparians were also examined. There was a strong focus on successful case studies from within the region as well Europe more widely, which countries can build on and adopt.

This training was organized by GWP-Med and engaged expert trainers Ms. Sabina Bokal of Global Water Partnership - Central and Eastern Europe (GWP-CEE) and Ms. Andreja Susnik of the Drought Management Center for Southeastern Europe (DMCSEE)

This training, which was organized by GWP-Med and engaged expert trainers Ms. Sabina Bokal of Global Water Partnership - Central and Eastern Europe (GWP-CEE) and Ms. Andreja Susnik of the Drought Management Center for Southeastern Europe (DMCSEE), was the first of its kind to be adapted to the early stages of the coronavirus emergency, with several participants joining in person in Pristina, Kosovo, while others joined through the online platform.

*All references to Kosovo are made in the context of UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999).

Towards a joint management plan for Lake Ohrid

Under the GEF UNDP Project, GWP-Med is helping to develop a Transboundary Watershed Management Plan to assist Albania and North Macedonia in sustainably managing Lake Ohrid.
Towards a joint management plan for Lake Ohrid

Lake Ohrid

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Church of Sv Jovan Kaneo, Ohrid, North Macedonia, Photo by Milana Jovanov, Unsplash

The Global Water Partnership- Mediterranean, under the GEF Drin Project, tests management approaches to water problems through Pilot Activities across the Drin Basin. One of these Pilot Activities is the transboundary Lake Ohrid Watershed Management Plan (LOWMP) in Albania and North Macedonia.

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Pogradec, Albania, Photo by 2S Studio

The LOWMP is only the second joint management plan of a transboundary basin in the Western Balkans and assists the institutions of Albania and North Macedonia in sustainably managing Lake Ohrid in accordance with the EU Water Framework Directive.

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Springs of St Naum, North Macedonia, Photo by 2S Studio

The implementation of the Plan will lead to enhanced coordination between the countries and address the root causes of the Lake’s problems, following an agreed Programme of Measures.

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Lin, Albanian, Photo by 2S Studio

Stakeholders will participate in the formulation of the measures through consultation workshops in Ohrid and Pogradec later in 2020.

 

Read about the first ever Lake Ohrid Monitoring Campaign supporting the Management Plan

Read the LOWMP Brochure to find out more

Watch this video to find out more about the Lake Ohrid Management Plan

 

11Struga, North Macedonia, Photo by 2S Studio

Celebrating 10 years of Drin collaboration: stakeholders discuss drought management in the Drin Basin

Representatives from Albania, Kosovo*, Montenegro and North Macedonia discuss the risks and impacts of drought and possible management solutions at 7th Drin Stakeholders Conference.
Celebrating 10 years of Drin collaboration: stakeholders discuss drought management in the Drin Basin

Drought in Drin Basin

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Future deficits in water is predicted, with droughts in the Drin Basin growing in severity. To help build capacity for managing droughts, Government Ministries, local authorities, academia and NGOs met in Tirana on 29-30 January, as participants of the 7th Drin Stakeholders Conference.

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The Conference, organised by the Global Water Partnership- Mediterranean (GWP-Med), discussed the impacts of droughts in the Drin Basin on society and the economy, and explored possible solutions to managing them. Participants learned about drought monitoring tools, early warning systems, and the importance of transboundary cooperation for managing droughts successfully.  The Integrated Drought Management Programme (IDMP) of the Global Water Partnership and the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) was presented as an appropriate management tool.

7

By assessing current organisational capacities to manage droughts in the Drin Basin, decision-makers where able to identify appropriate actions to improve coordinated management of drought risk in the future.

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The Drin Basin is home to 1.6 million people and spans Albania, Greece, Kosovo, Montenegro and North Macedonia. Coordinated management of drought risk is important for sustaining livelihoods, agricultural production and a healthy environment in the region.

Because of the shared nature of the water in the Drin Basin, cooperation between Ministries at a transboundary level is a critical element for successfully managing and responding to the drought risk.

Mr. Vangelis Constantianos, Executive Secretary, Global Water Partnership – Mediterranean (GWP-Med) said:

‘Management of droughts is just one of many challenges for Ministries in the Drin Basin, alongside food and energy security and maintaining a healthy environment. Working at a transboundary level is fundamental for managing droughts effectively. GWP-Med through its activities under the ‘Drin Project’ helps facilitate this transboundary cooperation’.

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GWP-Med, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has been working with Ministries throughout the Basin, to enhance transboundary cooperation under the Global Environment Facility funded ‘Drin Project’, and the political process called the ‘Drin Coordinated Action (Drin CORDA)’. The 7th Drin Stakeholders Conference, which is part of the political process, celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the Drin CORDA process.

When reflecting on the 10-year anniversary, Ms. Gerta Lubonja, General Director of the Albanian Water Resources Management Agency (AMBU) said:

“During all this time we have carried out a very professional job which requires the involvement and attention of all stakeholders…I would like to thank you for your participation in order to make the best cooperation for the transboundary Drin Basin”

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Ms. Ana Petrovska, State Secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning, North Macedonia

Ms. Ana Petrovska, State Secretary in the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning, North Macedonia said:

“This is a process that unites different countries with the same goal, to protect water and ecosystems in an integrated way…Now we understand more about the solutions, we need to back these solutions with our human resources, so this process is successful”.

Throughout the Drin CORDA process, in heavy consultation with competent authorities, a Strategic Action Programme (SAP) for the Drin Basin has been developed. The SAP is a political document which sets out the priority environmental issues in the Drin Basin and identifies how these issues can be addressed. The SAP, once adopted by the Ministries, will guide the management of the Drin Basin, for years to come.

Participants in the Stakeholders Conference: 

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11

10

13

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Notes

Background to Drin Stakeholders Conference

The Conference was organized by the Global Water Partnership – Mediterranean (GWP-Med), under the framework of the Drin Coordinated Action (CORDA) for the implementation of the Drin Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

The implementation of this year’s Conference marks the continuation of a tradition to involve stakeholders in the work, as stated under Article 5 of the Drin MoU: “(…) to reflect the views of the stakeholders, the Parties call for an annual meeting of stakeholders from the Drin Riparians (…)”.

Each year the Conference is used as a forum to present progress in implementing the Drin MoU, as well as a forum to discuss significant issues for the Basin. 

 

Conference funding

Organization of this Conference was made possible through two projects:

The Global Environment Facility supported Drin Project: “Enabling Transboundary Cooperation and Integrated Water Resources Management in the Extended Drin River Basin”. The Project is financed by GEF, implemented by the United Nations Development Programme and executed by GWP-Med, in partnership with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).

The Austrian Development Cooperation (ADC) supported Project “Promoting the sustainable management of Natural resources in Southeast Europe through the use of the Nexus approach”. This project serves the implementation of the SEE2020 Strategy. The Drin Basin is one of the two transboundary basins that the project focuses on, supporting the implementation of Nexus assessments and Dialogue. The second basin that the project focusses on is the Drina Basin.

Session 1.3 of the Conference served as a consultation on the Phase II Nexus Assessment for the Drin Basin.

 

About Global Water Partnership - Mediterranean

Global Water Partnership – Mediterranean (GWP-Med) was established in 2002 as the Mediterranean branch of the inter-governmental organization, Global Water Partnership (GWP).

Aiming for a water-secure Mediterranean, GWP-Med is a multi-stakeholder action network that works at a regional, transboundary, national, basin and local level, where it promotes action and facilitates dialogue on Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), provides technical support to policy making, implements demonstration activities and contributes to skills and knowledge development. Strategic priorities include leveraging the SDG target 6.5 on IWRM, adaptation to climate vulnerability and change and river basin/transboundary water management. Gender and youth issues, as well as private sector participation in water financing are also key, cross-cutting issues for GWP-Med.

*All references to Kosovo are made in the context of UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999).

For further information, please contact Global Water Partnership – Mediterranean Communications Officer, Ms Frances Dixon at frances@gwpmed.org

The way forward for transboundary cooperation in the Drin Basin

Drin Core Group gives mandate to finalise Strategic Action Programme for Drin Basin
The way forward for transboundary cooperation in the Drin Basin

Podgorica

Podgorica_Credit_Falco_Pixabay.jpg

Millennium Bridge, Podgorica, Montenegro. Photo Credit: Falco, Pixabay

The Drin Core Group (DCG) met in Podgorica for the 3rd Ad Hoc meeting, with the aim of discussing and adopting the Strategic Action Program (SAP) for the Drin Basin.

The SAP is a political document which sets out the priority issues in the Drin Basin and how they can be addressed.

Based on input already provided by local and international experts and comments from the Riparians[i] during the recent, extensive consultation process, the DCG reviewed the content of the SAP, goal by goal, objective by objective, in the Ad Hoc meeting and in a follow up meeting over internet that followed shortly after, and adopted the SAP.

The SAP is now being translated in the languages of the Riparians to enable the DCG members to initiate consultation with the institutions. The process is expected to conclude in January 2020 with the signing of the SAP.

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3rd Ad Hoc DCG meeting in Podgorica, 08 October 2019. Photo Credit: Dejan Panovski

 

Mr. Dimitris Faloutsos, GWP-Med Deputy Regional Coordinator and Project Coordinator for the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Drin Project says:

The Drin Core Group (DCG) meeting in Podgorica was one of the most important DCG meetings to date as it was the first step for the adoption of the Strategic Action Programme (SAP) for the Drin Basin.

The SAP, once adopted, will form the main reference document for the years to come under the Drin CORDA Process for the coordinated management of the basin.

The establishment of a joint management body - the Drin Basin Commission – is one of the activities included in the SAP, reflecting a related decision of the DCG.”

 

Notes

The Drin CORDA Process / the Drin Core Group

Under the Drin Coordinated Action (CORDA), the Drin Core Group comprises of officially appointed representatives from the Riparians who meet twice a year in accordance with the Drin Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to discuss issues regarding the management of water and natural resources in the Drin Basin. The DCG has met 17 times in this format.

Occasionally, when circumstances permit, the DCG meets on an ad-hoc basis. This meeting was the 3rd Ad Hoc Drin Core Group Meeting, held under the Drin CORDA process on 08 October 2019.

GEF Drin Project

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) Drin Project aims to enable transboundary cooperation and integrated water resources managing in the extended Drin River Basin.

The Project is financed by GEF, implemented by the United Nations Development Programme and executed by GWP-Med, in partnership with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). 

 

 


[i] Albania, Greece*, Kosovo**, Montenegro and North Macedonia

*Greece is not eligible for financing, and uses its own resources for financing activities in its part of the “extended” Drin Basin i.e. the Prespa sub-basin.

**All references to Kosovo are made in the context of UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999).

Monitoring one of Europe’s oldest lakes

A systematic water monitoring campaign provides baseline for the transboundary Lake Ohrid Watershed Management Plan being developed by GEF Drin Project

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Experts collect data on the water quality of Lake Ohrid

With an estimated age of 2-5 million years and maximum depth of nearly 300 meters, Lake Ohrid is one of the oldest and deepest Lakes in Europe.

Shared between Albania and North Macedonia, the UNESCO World Heritage Site supports diverse ecosystems, local livelihoods and the economy including agriculture, fishing, hydropower and tourism.

Lake Ohrid is home to 300+ unique species, such as the famous Ohrid trout, snails and sponges and ‘relict’ species; surviving species of the Pleistocene epoch that once populated a much larger geographic area.

This makes the Lake Ohrid region a BIODIVERSITY HOTSPOT of global importance.

However, pressures like urban development, over-fishing, deforestation, illegal waste dumping and pollution affect and possibly threaten the Lake and its ecosystems.

In order to assist Albania and North Macedonia in sustainably managing the lake and its natural resources, the GEF Drin Project* is developing the Lake Ohrid Watershed Management Plan, in accordance with the EU Water Framework Directive, that will be only the second joint management plan of a transboundary basin in the Western Balkans.

The implementation of the Plan will lead to enhanced coordination between the littoral* countries, and address the root causes of the pressures.

One of the activities needed to inform the development of the Lake Ohrid Watershed Management Plan is a Monitoring Campaign. The Monitoring Campaign will help establish a baseline understanding of the water characteristics of the watershed shared by the two littoral countries.

The water Monitoring Campaign marks an exciting milestone for the region, as the latest systematic and most comprehensive scientific monitoring for the lake and its tributaries is completed. Water samples were collected from a total of 18 sampling sites within the Lake Ohrid Watershed (5 in rivers, 11 in the Lake, 1 Heavily Modified Water Body and 1 Artificial Water Body).                  

  Sampling Sites

Overview of sampling sites (Red = Lake Site, Blue = River Site)

 

The monitoring, carried out by the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR) and the Greek Biotope/Wetland Centre (EKBY), with the support of local experts from the Hydrobiological Institute Ohrid (HIO; North Macedonia) and the National Environmental Agency (NEA; Albania), assesses the physical, biological and chemical elements of the water, to understand the state of the Lake’s ecosystem and presence of pollution in the water.

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The physical properties monitored includes temperature, salinity and oxygen content; the biological monitoring assesses fish and aquatic plant indicators, while the chemical monitoring measures parameters like pH, nutrients, heavy metals and pesticides. Meanwhile, characteristics such as the depth and width of rivers and continuity of fish habitat were also monitored.

The Campaign comprised of three phases: Winter, Spring and Summer. The Winter Campaign which took place in February 2019, monitored the physical properties of the water. The Spring Campaign, undertaken in April 2019, monitored the physical and biological properties of the water. The Summer Campaign – the third and final campaign, took place in July 2019 and reviewed the physical, chemical and biological characteristics of the water, which included fish monitoring.

The results of the Monitoring will provide a scientific basis for the Characterization of the basin, as well as for a Programme of Measures which will be part of the Lake Ohrid Watershed Management Plan - the ‘Master Plan’ for both Albania and North Macedonia to enhance coordination between relevant institutions in the region and enable the sustainable management of the Lake’s natural resources. 

The Monitoring Campaign is just one activity that will inform the development of the Lake Ohrid Watershed Management Plan. It will be complemented by an economic analysis of water including the Evaluation of the Ecosystem Services offered by the Lake and a detailed assessment of the pressures on the water resources, as well as feedback from detailed consultation with stakeholders.

The Management Plan, developed by the Global Water Partnership – Mediterranean (GWP-Med) under the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Drin Project, in close cooperation with institutions and industry stakeholders, is one of six Pilot Activities taking place under the GEF Drin Project.

The Lake Ohrid Watershed Management Plan will pave the way for a sustainable future for the people and environment of Lake Ohrid.

Notes:

*The Drin Project is financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and executed by the Global Water Partnership – Mediterranean (GWP-Med), in partnership with United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).

*Littoral = situated on the shore of the Lake

Mekong Study Visit for Drin Delegation

'Outstanding experience and networking opportunity'. Delegates from Riparians in the Drin Basin visited the Mekong River Commission (MRC) this month to learn about shared water resources management in another transboundary river basin.
Mekong Study Visit for Drin Delegation

Mekong Study Visit for Drin Delegation

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Photo credit: Quangpraha, Pixabay

The trip was an important learning exercise which allowed participants to discuss the challenges of managing transboundary river basins and identify ways of addressing these issues. Visiting the Mekong River Commission (MRC) gave representatives from the Drin Riparians the opportunity to explore specific issues in detail and learn from an institution that is well established (starting in 1995).

The Mekong River is one of the world’s great river systems, flowing 4,909 km through six countries: China, Myanmar, Thailand, Lao PDR, Cambodia, and Viet Nam.

The MRC is the regional inter-governmental agency established for the sustainable development of water and related resources in the Mekong River Basin.

Representatives from Albania, Kosovo*, Montenegro and North Macedonia visited the Mekong under the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Drin Project, executed by the Global Water Partnership – Mediterranean (GWP-Med).

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Members of the Drin Core Group, Expert Working Groups and GEF Drin Project Coordination Unit made up the delegation on the Study Visit to the Mekong River Commission. Photo Credit: MRC

Participants, comprising members of the Drin Core Group, Expert Working Groups and GEF Drin Project Coordination Unit, attended meetings throughout the Mekong Basin, starting with a visit to the Mekong River Commission Secretariat located in Vientiane.

Here, delegates were introduced to how the Mekong River Commission functions, the Official Agreements that guide River Basin Management Strategies in the Basin and the Commission’s approach to public participation.

Drin delegates had the opportunity to share their experiences with the Mekong Commission on challenges in data exchange, climate change adaptation and flood mitigation in their respective Basins.

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Photo Credit: MRC

To understand how these activities are implemented at a national scale, the Study Visit took delegates to meet the Lao National Mekong Committee Secretariat (LNMCS) in Lao PDR, followed by a site visit to the Mekong- Hydro Meteorological Cycle Observation System (HYCOS) station, which aims to improve flood and drought forecasting and data application for fisheries, agriculture and navigation.

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Photo credit: Christine Wehrmeier, Unsplash

After a day of travelling, the participant’s next stop was in Cambodia, where they met the Tonle Sap Authority in Phnom Penh. The Tonle Sap Lake is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia facing many similar challenges to Lake Ohrid, Lake Prespa and Lake Skadar/ Shkodër in the Drin Basin.

Described by a participant as an 'outstanding experience and networking opportunity', the Mekong River Commission Study Visit demonstrated the value of sharing experiences with colleagues facing similar water challenges. Hearing from experts in another part of the world provided a fresh perspective on how to address these issues. 

More information about the Mekong River Commission can be found here: http://www.mrcmekong.org/

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Journalists gather in Ohrid for Training in Environmental Reporting

Journalists in the Drin Basin attended a 2-day training event to develop their capacities in environmental and water reporting, and learn about the 200.000 USD Lake Ohrid Pilot Activity under the GEF Drin Project.
Journalists gather in Ohrid for Training in Environmental Reporting

Some of the journalists outside the Monastery of St. Naum. Photo Credit: Arlis Alikaj

Home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the historic city of Ohrid sits on the shores of Lake Ohrid - the oldest Lake in Europe.

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This was the location of a recent capacity-building event for journalists aimed at developing their skills in environmental and water reporting. 

Inva Hasanaliaj, Journalist at Faktoje.al found the training very beneficial and said:

‘It was a pleasure spending those days in such a wonderful and essential training. It was quite interesting to get acquainted with many new aspects of environmental journalism’. 

Delivered by experienced journalist and former BBC Correspondent, Mr. Kieran Cooke, the training taught participants about key water and environmental issues such as climate change, competing water uses and water pollution. 

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Participants had the opportunity to share their own experiences of environmental and water issues in the Drin Basin, helping to stimulate ideas for stories and apply their freshly gained knowledge to their local contexts. 

One of the participants said: ‘The training was a need in our daily work to further develop our knowledge.’ Arlis Alikaj, Journalist at Interview Newspaper

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Members of the GEF Drin Project Coordination Unit presented details of the Drin Project, highlighting some of the challenges in the Basin and how, through the Drin CORDA process and a range of Pilot Projects, these issues are being addressed.  

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The second day of the training was a highlight for participants as they boarded Boat Alexandria and cruised along the Lake to St. Naum, the site of St. Naum Monastery, to participate in St. Naum Celebration Day.

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While onboard, journalists heard from Dejan Panovski (North Macedonian Coordinator for the GEF Drin Project) about the activities taking place on Lake Ohrid, under the GEF Drin Pilot Project, to develop a Lake Ohrid Watershed Management Plan. The Project, worth almost 200.000 USD will help identify a Programme of Measures to ensure the sustainable management of the Lake.

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On arrival at St. Naum, participants visited the picturesque Springs of St. Naum – the source of Lake Ohrid.  

During the day, journalists developed ideas for stories, gathered photo material and had 1-2-1 mentoring sessions with trainer, Kieran.

Mr. Cooke was impressed with the participants knowledge and enthusiasm for the topic and their desire to develop thought-provoking stories from the content they had gathered over the two days of training. 

 

Notes:

The training, delivered under the Global Environment Facility Drin Project, was open to journalists reporting in a Drin Basin Riparian* (Albania, Greece, Kosovo**, Montenegro and North Macedonia). 

 *Riparian: relating to or situated on the banks of a river.

**All references to Kosovo are made in the context of UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999)

 

Drin Core Group request establishment of Drin Commission

During it's 17th meeting, the Drin Core Group have requested the establishment of a Drin Commission.

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Members of the Drin Core Group meet for the 17th time this week for a two-day meeting on 30-31 May 2019.

 

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Minister for Environment and Spatial Planning, Kosovo, attends 17th Drin Core Group Meeting

Mr. Fatmir Matoshi, Minister for Environment and Spatial Planning in Kosovo, participates in the 17th Drin Core Group discussion today.

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Left to Right: Mr Arduen Karagjozi, Director of Albanian Water Resources Management Agency; Ms Gerta Lubonja, General Director of Albanian Water Resources Agency; Ms. Shkipe Depd, UNDP Kosovo; Mr. Dimitris Faloutsos, GWP-Med, Drin Core Group Secretariat and GEF Drin Project; Minister Fatmir Matoshi, Environment and Spatial Planning, Kosovo; Mr. Rizah Hajdari, GWP-MED Drin Coordinator for Kosovo, Drin Core Group Secretariat; Mr. Vladimir Mamaev, Regional Advisor, UNDP / GEF; Mr. Momcilo Blagojevic, General Director of Water Management, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Montenegro.

The Minister thanked the Global Environment Facility for Kosovo’s inclusion in the Drin Project and reiterated Kosovo’s* commitment to work with Riparians to improve management of the Drin Basin.

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The Minister met with members of the Drin Core Group including:

Ms. Gerta Lubonja, General Director of the Albanian Water Resources Management Agency and Mr. Arduen Karagjozi, Director of Albanian Water Resources Management Agency;

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 Mr. Ylber Mirta, Head of Department for Waters, North Macedonia:

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Mr. Momcilo Blagojevic, General Director of Water Management, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Montenegro (right):

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Left to Right: Mr. Vladimir Mamaev, Regional Advisor, UNDP / GEF; Mr. Dimitris Faloutsos, GWP-Med, Drin Core Group Secretariat and GEF Drin Project; Minister Fatmir Matoshi, Environment and Spatial Planning; Mr. Momcilo Blagojevic, General Director of Water Management, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Montenegro.

Under the Drin Coordinated Action (CORDA), the Drin Core Group comprises of officially appointed representatives from the Riparians who meet twice a year in accordance with the Drin Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to discuss issues regarding the management of water and natural resources in the Drin Basin. 

The focus of the 2-day meeting is to review Draft 1 of the Strategic Action Programme for the Drin Basin. 

 

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Expert Working Groups meet to review Strategic Action Programme

Expert Working Groups meet in Pristina, Kosovo for the 8th Meeting to review 1st draft of the Strategic Action Programme
Expert Working Groups meet to review Strategic Action Programme

Expert Working Groups meet to review first draft of Strategic Action Programme

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Today, 29th May 2019, the Drin CORDA Expert Working Groups (EWG) meet in Pristina, Kosovo.

The focus of today’s meeting is to review and validate the contents of Draft 1 of the Strategic Action Programme (SAP) for the Drin Basin.

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Members of the EWG’s are appointed by the Riparians (Albanian, Kosovo, Montenegro and North Macedonia) as technical experts in 1) the EU Water Framework Directive, 2) Monitoring and Information Exchange and 3) Biodiversity and Ecosystems.

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The first draft of the SAP was developed after consultation with 170 stakeholders across 8 Focus Group Meetings in the Drin Basin between December 2018 – April 2019.

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Comments provided today will lead to Draft 2 of the SAP.

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GEF Drin Project Team presents Project highlights to the Albanian Water Resources Management Agency

Members of the GEF Drin Project Team presented Project highlights to the Albanian Water Resources Management Agency 📈.
GEF Drin Project Team presents Project highlights to the Albanian Water Resources Management Agency

GEF Drin Project Team presents Project highlights to the Albanian Water Resources Management Agency

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At the meeting in Tirana, on 28 May 2019, the Team gave an overview of the project’s Pilot Activities running in Albania including (1) Transboundary water monitoring system in Lake Skadar/Shkodër 📊 and (2) Lake Ohrid Watershed Management Plan. 💧💧

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Director of the Water Resources Management Agency, Mr. Arduen Karagjozi says 'a Nexus approach is essential for integrated water resources management' 28.05.2019

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6th Drin Day Celebrations - Plastic Pollution

The 6th celebration of the Drin Day, aimed to inspire collective and transboundary actions towards protecting the Drin River Basin and its freshwater ecosystems, is organized under the auspices of the Drin Coordinated Action (CORDA) on the 5th of May 2019. This year, the focus was plastic pollution. Drin Day is celebrated by NGOs in each of the Riparians. Here is a summary of the activities that took place in Albania...

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The content for this article was provided by Mrs. Irena Toçi, Project Coordinator at the Institute of Book and Promotion and Culture Zone and photos by Aurora Kenga.

In the framework of the International Drin Day, on the dates 2nd, 3rd and 4th of May, the "Art Against Plastic Pollution" project was developed in the City of Kukës by the Institute of Book and Promotion and Culture Zone.

An awareness-raising project addressed young people in the city of Kukës with the main purpose of preventing plastic pollution in the Drin River and attracting the attention of the relevant authorities to undertake other initiatives for cleaning the Drin, which directly affects the quality of health of residents near its basin.

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This three-day project had some major activities:

First, all high school pupils and mid school pupils came out on the ground and gathered with a well-coordinated action from the Kukës Education Directorate sacks of waste that were found to the edges of Drin.

Afterwards, Art Students and pupils in a series of workshops and with the help of their teachers implemented plastic waste installations to show how recycling plastic products remains an effective way to minimize plastic pollution.

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More than 1000 pupils from high school and upper middle school attended from 13 schools in the Kukës district.

Along with key stakeholders, Education Ministry of Albania, Regional Education Directory of Kukës and Ministry of Tourism and Environment.

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More articles from Drin Day Celebrations coming soon...

Drin Basin Experts meet to review Draft Strategic Action Programme

On 23 - 24 April 2019, technical experts in the Drin Basin participated in a 2-day workshop to review and validate the preliminary Draft of the Strategic Action Programme for the extended Drin Basin.

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The workshop followed on from six Focus Group Meetings in March (in Tirana, Shkodra, Podgorica, Peja, Skopje and Pogradec), where key stakeholders prioritised Drin Basin issues.

The purpose of the Drin Expert workshop on 23- 24 April 2019 was to identify specific actions to address the priority issues.

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Biomass Pilot Activity in National Park of Skadar Lake reaches Second Phase following equipment donation

The GEF Drin Project has donated close to 27.000 Euro of equipment to the National Park of Skadar Lake as part of its Biomass Pilot Activity: ‘Reduction of nutrient load and forest preservation through biomass collection and production of fuel briquettes in Montenegrin part of Skadar/Shkoder Lake’.

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 Photo credit: National Park Authorities

The Pilot is one of the six related Activities[i] taking place in the Drin River Basin under the GEF Drin Project.

The equipment (pictured) will be used to reduce biomass surrounding the lake, specifically, reed and the invasive species Amorpha fruticose (Indigo bush) – commonly known as ‘Bagremac’ locally.

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Photo credit: National Park Authorities

This will help mitigate the spread of invasive species in the National Park and remove some of the phosphorous and nitrates contributing to the eutrophication[ii] of the Lake.

The collected biomass will be used as an alternative source of fuel to wood through the production of fuel-briquettes. This can help reduce the pressure of logging on the lakeshore's degraded natural forest and foster use of bio-renewables. 

In addition, the Pilot will test whether removing the biomass in this way is an effective management strategy for reducing the growth of invasive species. This will inform the National Park Authorities’ approach to managing invasive species in the future.

Skadar Lake

National Park of Skadar Lake. Photo Credit: Frances Dixon (GWP-Med)

Director of the National Parks of Montenegro (NPCG) Mr. Elvir Klica thanked GWP-Med for the donation:

"It has been estimated that Europe is inhabited by more than 10,000 alien species of plants and animals, and ecologists and economists have long pointed to this problem which is becoming more pronounced because of global climate change.

"The problem of the spread of invasive species is recognized and in Montenegro, a draft law on foreign and invasive species has the purpose of preventing the introduction and spread of these species of plants and animals. The Five-Year NP Skadar Lake Management Plan defines a set of activities to collect data on the distribution and degree of invasives in this National Park”

The donation of this tractor, with a trailer and mower, will facilitate and enable working in the field when it comes to cleaning up the area with invasive species that pose a threat to biodiversity, including in this protected area".

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Photo credit: National Park Authorities

Mr. Klica said that the equipment received through the partnership with the GEF Drin Project is undoubtedly of great importance in alleviating the adverse effects of invasive species in the National Park.

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Mr. Novak Čadjenović, GWP-Med Senior Programme Officer – National Coordinator for Montenegro speaks with media about the Pilot Activity. Photo credit: National Park Authorities

Mr. Novak Čadjenović, GWP-Med Senior Programme Officer – National Coordinator for Montenegro (pictured above) expressed his satisfaction with the Pilot’s progress:

"This Pilot Activity is quite specific and very interesting because it is a multifunctional use of equipment and aims to produce energy-efficient fuel from invasive species. The Project is aimed at activities in the NP Skadar Lake Five-Year Management Plan, such as removal of Allochtonous vegetation, reducing the effects of eutrophication and purging of navigable waterways”.

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Second from the left, Director of the National Parks of Montenegro (NPCG) Mr. Elvir Klica. Photo credit: National Park Authorities

Dimitris Faloutsos, GWP-Med Regional Coordinator and Project Manager of the GEF Drin Project says: 

"The Activity is an opportunity to test the cost-effectiveness of environmentally friendly technologies that are new in the region. In the long term, this Project's Activity has the potential to create additional job opportunities through the biomass to fuel scheme, contributing in parallel to maintaining the health of the lake’s ecosystem.  

We look forward to cooperating with the National Park of Skadar Lake in implementing this Pilot Activity".

Photo credit: National Park Authorities
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[i] 1. Lake Ohrid Watershed Management Plan (North Macedonia and Albania)

2. Constructed Wetland - Wastewater Management in Kosovo

3. Design and testing of the multi-purpose groundwater monitoring networks (Albania and Montenegro)

4. Testing feasibility of flood micro-insurance in Shkoder/Skadar Lake area, and Struga area of Drin River Basin

5. Preparation of a wastewater management decision support tool (Shkodra).

 

[ii] Eutrophic waters have low water quality and frequent algal blooms due to excessive nutrients. This can cause the death of plants and animals in the lake due to the reduction in dissolved oxygen (DO) levels. Poor water quality also reduces the ability of fish to see prey and detect predators.

 

Focus Group Meetings to discuss Strategic Action Programme for Drin Basin

Between 12 – 21 March 2019, the GEF Drin Project held a series of 6 Focus Group Meetings with key stakeholders in the Drin Basin. Workshops were held in Tirana, Shkodra, Podgorica, Peja, Skopje and Pogradec.

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The purpose of the Focus Group Meetings was to inform the development of a Strategic Action Programme for the Drin Basin. This is a document which sets out the priority issues in the basin and how they can be addressed.

 

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The priority issues were first identified through a Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA) of the Drin Basin. The five key areas were identified as:

1. Deterioration of water quality;

 2. Variability of the hydrological regime;

 3. Biodiversity Degradation;

 4. Sediment Transport; and,

 5. Climate Variability and Change (a cross-cutting issue that impacts all of the above).

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The participants of the Focus Group Meetings were tasked with exploring elements of these issues and rating them from high to low.

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The Focus Group Meetings, along with two additional meetings, ensured a total of 170 stakeholders were consulted on the issues.

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Key themes to come out of the discussions were:

1)     The need for improved information and data exchange between institutions;

2)     Increased monitoring, for example, of lake water quality and groundwater;

3)     Protecting biodiversity from invasive species; and,

4)     Decreasing agricultural pollution.

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Riparian Experts conduct ‘Causal Chain Analysis’ paving the way for a Strategic Action Plan in extended Drin River Basin

On 4 – 5 December 2018, GWP-Med facilitated a 2-day Causal Chain Analysis workshop with experts from the Drin Riparian’s (Albania, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo* and Montenegro) to identify the causes of the main transboundary issues in the basin and how these can be addressed.
Riparian Experts conduct ‘Causal Chain Analysis’ paving the way for a Strategic Action Plan in extended Drin River Basin

Riparian Experts Causal Chain Analysis Workshop

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The Causal Chain Analysis is part of a comprehensive Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA) carried out in the Basin over the last two years. The TDA, informed by 6 thematic reports - Biodiversity, Pollution, Hydrology, Institutional and Legal Setting, Socio-economics and the Water-Food-Energy-Ecosystems Nexus – helped identify the main transboundary issues affecting the Drin River Basin.

The main issues identified were:

1. Deterioration of water quality

 2. Variability of the hydrological regime

 3. Biodiversity Degradation

 4. Sediment Transport

 5. Climate Variability and Change (cross-cutting issue that impacts all of the above).

The workshop served also as a first step (of many) to agreeing on a Strategic Action Plan (SAP) for the extended Drin River Basin – a Plan that will comprise of specific actions and interventions, agreed upon by all Riparian’s to improve the management of the River Basin.

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Results from the Workshop:

As a result of the workshop, we identified the causes of the five transboundary issues and then discussed how to address these issues with specific actions and interventions. The identified actions and interventions will contribute to the first draft of the SAP, which will be developed throughout 2019 following substantial stakeholder consultation.

“The Causal Chain Analysis is an important step in the development of the SAP as it ensures that the root causes of issues are being addressed. This will lead to a more sustainable and fit-for-purpose SAP, which will have significant benefits for the environment and economies of the Riparians and the Drin River Basin as a whole”. Dimitris Faloutsos, GWP-Med, Deputy Regional Coordinator

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How will the SAP work?

The SAP is intended to link commitments made by the Drin Riparians to address the transboundary issues.

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The intention is that by negotiating and endorsing the SAP at the highest possible level, the governments are indicating to each other, and to the wider donor and finance community that the agreed actions are indeed priorities for the Riparians and that there is sufficient political will to enact these through coordinated efforts. 

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*All references to Kosovo are made in the context of UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999).

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