Situation in South-Eastern Europe


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This article gives an overview about the Situation in the South-Eastern Europe sub-region (also known as the Balkans), which consists of the following countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, FYR Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro


Overview of Transboundary/Shared Water Bodies & Resources in SEE

(Source: Petersberg Process Phase II / Athens Declaration Process information note (IW:LEARN), 18 Apr 06)

Ninety (90) percent of the area of the Southeastern European (SEE) countries falls within transboundary river basins, including the Danube, Drin, Martisa/Evros, Neretva, Nestos, Sava, Struma/Strimon, Vardar/Axios and others. These and other transboundary rivers, flow into the Adriatic, the Aegean, the Ionian and the Black Seas. More than half of the transboundary basins are shared by three or more riparian states. Shared lake basins include Doiran, Ohrid, Prespa, and Shkoder. The SEE Region is also characterized by a large number of transboundary groundwater aquifers that are often karstic in their nature.

Countries such as Bulgaria, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro, with runoff more than 1700 mm per year depend mainly on external resources of freshwater water. On average, the regional dependency on transboundary water resources is 66 percent. This indicates the importance of effectively address the transboundary water resources management issues in the region.

Problems and challenges for the management of shared transboundary water resources in the SEE region include:

  • Water quantity and quality management.
  • Transboundary aquifer systems management in both qualitative and quantitative terms.
  • Navigation.
  • Balancing conflicting interests to ensure ecosystem and biodiversity conservation.
  • Management of emergencies including flood forecasting and mitigation requiring information networking and sharing.

These issues are becoming more complex because of the differences in socio-economic conditions, geography, laws and institutions among the countries in the Region. Solutions to transboundary water resources management issues will need to take account, among others, of the nature and severity of such issues, the size and importance of shared resources and the number of the countries involved.

The potential for international conflicts as a result of water scarcity, degradation of water quality and inadequate cooperation in the management of shared waters, poses a risk to stability and economic development of SEE. There is an important need for identification design and application of solutions through which these shared water resources can become a catalyst for cooperation. Allowing these transboundary water resources to present an opportunity rather than a constraint to development, has led the SEE region countries and the international community (including the European Union, Donor countries, International organizations, Intergovernmental and Non-governmental organizations) to undertake a series of initiatives many of which are complementary.

Particular reference is made to the Petersberg Process (since 1998) and the more recent Athens Declaration Process (since 2003). These processes have recently be aligned to the joint Petersberg Process Phase II / Athens Declaration Process, to use synergies (see there for details).

Assessment of the Legal and Policy Situation

Under the Athens Declaration, two cooperative water programmes were launched: the Mediterranean Shared Aquifers Management Program MED EUWI and the Southeastern Europe Transboundary River Basin and Lake Basin Management Program.

The Southeastern Europe Transboundary River Basin and Lake Basin Management Program focusses on the series of transboundary river basins lying south of the Danube River Basin, which flow into the Adriatic, Aegean, Black, and Ionian Seas, and on the series of transboundary lake basins in this area. The program assists countries of the region, in cooperation with key stakeholders, to draft integrated water resources management (IWRM) and water use efficiency plans for all major river basins, and would include a range of complementary interventions in individual river and lake basins, with a coordination mechanism to allow for exchange of information and experience between activities.

There are three major shared Lakes in this sub-region: Prespa, Ohrid and Shkoder (Skadar). These lakes are hydrologically connected by the Drin River Basin, which links the lakes, wetlands, rivers into one ecosystem.

The Sava river is a tributary of the Danube and is also transboundary, flowing through Slovenia and the following countries in Southeastern Europe: Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina (making its northern border) and Serbia.

Transboundary projects in Southeastern Europe

Lake Prespa
  1. Integrated trans-boundary ecosystem management at Lake Prespa by Albania, Greece and Macedonia
  2. Macedonia - Integrated Water Resources Management in the Prespa region through participatory processes and dialogue
  3. Macedonia - Reducing environmental impacts of agriculture in the Lake Prespa region

Lake Shkoder (Skadar)
  1. Workshop on the Lake Skadar International Designation for Territorial Development
Lake Ohrid
Lake Orhid Management

GEF Implementing Agency: World Bank, Executing Agencies: Governments of Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Twothirds of Lake Ohrid belongs to Macedonia while rest is in Albania. The primary objective of the Project is to develop a basis for the joint management and protection of Lake Ohrid by the governments and people of Macedonia and Albania. By establishing a basis for joint management of the Lake Ohrid Basin, the Project will promote cost-effective solutions concerning transboundary natural resources management and pollution issues and prevent and minimize future pollution.

Sava River
  1. Sava River Basin CARDS Project
Adriatic Sea
The Adriatic Sea Partnership

Region/Countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Italy, Slovenia, Montenegro; Lead organisation: REC This project is for support of a multi-year (from 2006 to 2009), multi-million dollar umbrella partnership for cooperation on the Adriatic Sea, hereinafter referred to as the Adriatic Sea Partnership (ASP). The project aims to adequately prepare the initiative, to service the lead countries, to increase donor interest and generate further funding, and to represent the initiative in various fora in order to garner the necessary participation and support. A major goal of the ASP is to establish an operative international body on the basis of political commitment by littoral countries, to act as a common platform for regional cooperation on action to protect the Adriatic Sea and promote its sustainable use.

Programming Oportunities


Donor Situation in SEE

EBRD, World Bank, REC, UNDP, EU, and GEF are currently active in this region

Further Readings - References - Links


All of the above

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