Strengthening the Implementation Capacities for Nutrient Reduction and Transboundary Cooperation in the Danube River Basin

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Project ID

RER/03/G31/A/1G/31 (PIMS 3123; Tranche 1: 2184)

Project Title

Strengthening the Implementation Capacities for Nutrient Reduction and Transboundary Cooperation in the Danube River Basin (Tranche 2)

Type

Focus Areas

Geographic Scope

Lead Organization(s)

Project Partners

Financing

Tranche 2 Total: 25,118,000 (GEF 12,240,000; ICPDR 6,000,000; Governments/ NGOs / others 6,878,000)

Timeframe

2003-2006 (Phase 2)

Status

Finalized (2007)

Project website(s)

Contacts

UNDP/ GEF Danube Regional Project,

VIC Room D0418, P.O. B Box 500, A-1400 Vienna - Austria

Telephone: + 43 1 260 60 ? 5796; Fax: + 43 1 260 60 - 5837

Visiting Address: Vienna International Center, D0418, Wagramer Strasse 5, A-1220 Vienna, Austria

Further contacts

Contents

Description

The long-term development objective of the proposed Regional Project is to contribute to sustainable human development in the DRB and the wider Black Sea area through reinforcing the capacities of the participating countries in developing effective mechanisms for regional cooperation and coordination in order to ensure protection of international waters, sustainable management of natural resources and biodiversity.

In this context, the proposed GEF Regional Project, being subdivided into two Phases, should support the ICPDR, its structures and the participating countries in order to ensure an integrated and coherent implementation of the Strategic Action Plan 1994 (revised SAP 1999), the ICPDR Joint Action Programme and the related investment programmes in line with the objectives of the DRPC. The overall objective of the Danube Regional Project is to complement the activ ities of the ICPDR required toprovide a regional approach and global significance to the development of national policies and legislation and the definition of priority actions for nutrient reduction and pollution control with particular attention to achieving sustainable transboundary ecological effects within the DRB and the Black Sea area.

The Danube Regional Project, in its Phases 1 and 2, shall facilitate implementation of the Danube River Protection Convention in providing a framework for coordination, dissemination and replication of successful demonstration that will be developed through investment projects (World Bank-GEF Investment Facility for Nutrient Reduction, EBRD, EU programmes for accession countries etc.). The specific objective of Phase 1, December 2001 – November 2003, was to prepare and initiate basin-wide capacity-building activities, which will be consolidated in the second phase of the Project. This second Phase will be implemented from December 2003 – November 2006, building up on the results achieved in the first Phase.

Expected Outcomes

Achievements: Results and Impact

Lessons for Replication

Lessons Learned from PIR Report 2005:

  • From the completion of Phase 1 and the on-going activities of Phase 2 key lessons learnt have included the need for the development of a clear 'exit strategy' of the UNDP/GEF funded project from the region and assisting, the ICPDR in particular, with plans for future sustainability. In addition, 9 of the 13 DRB countries are either EU members or in the process of acceding to the EU. Whilst this has provided a clear and beneficial legislative framework for the DRP, it has also re-emphasised the need for focusing on the four non-accession countries.

Other Lessons include:

  • Excellent Cooperation with the ICPDR and its structures (co-executing agency and primary beneficiary) resulting in improved administrative and technical capacities to cooperate. The ICPDR was formed to implement the Danube River Protection Convention (DRPC) and is since 2000 the platform for coordinating the implementation of the EU WFD in the DRB. The cooperation between the DRP and the ICPDR is excellent as the GEF project continues proactively working together with the ICPDR at various levels, the Secretariat, the respective ICPDR Expert Groups and respective National Governments. The project participates, together with relevant contractors where appropriate, in all Expert Groups Meetings organized by the ICPDR. In this way the GEF Project has the full overview and understanding and can thereby provide the best assistance and input to the further development of the work. Further, these commonly implemented activities serve to improve administrative and technical capacities at the national level based on guidelines and requirements set by the ICPDR and the Project. In this way, the GEF project plays a catalytic role in stimulating DRB countries to meet their commitments to the DRPC and increasingly the WFD. This encourages national governments to develop appropriate structures for regional cooperation that facilitate the strengthening of good governance in the Danube River Basin.
  • Linking Global Environment issues to EU Water Framework Directive. A key lesson learned is the benefit of a close link between global environmental objectives and an appropriate legislative framework. The EU WFD represents, perhaps, the most comprehensive water legislation in the world. It provides an excellent basis for the implementation of the DRP given commonly shared principles such as a basin-wide holistic approach, ecosystem management etc. By linking project activities closely with the WFD and its implementation, the DRP is both increasing the ability to meet global environmental objectives in the frame of the project, but also establishing the basis for the sustainability of project results as well as the mechanisms for ongoing improvements after the life of the project.
  • Appropriate Level of Public Participation. The DRP has put a large emphasis on supporting increased public participation in DRB cooperation. An important lesson learned is that it is critical to focus on developing appropriate public participation mechanisms and strategies given specific level of activity (regional, national, sub-basin, local.) The DRP is developing grassroots level (bottoms-up) activities via the Small Grants Programme, as well as is supporting the development of the Danube Environmental Forum (DEF) which, as a regional network is capable of working at all levels, sub-basin, national or local levels through its constituent members. The provisions of the WFD provide an opportunity, based on legislative requirements, to enhance public participation within the frame of the ICPDR and its parties for the first time. This will occur concretely by incorporating adequate public participation activities and mechanisms into the process for developing the Danube River Basin Management Plan. Emphasis here will be first at the regional (ICPDR or top) level. However, guidance will also be developed, to assist national governments to incorporate public participation in river basin management at the sub-basin, national and local levels. In addition to the above-mentioned activities, there are considerations to develop a specific project component to improve access to information for key stakeholders and to enhance their abilities to address priority sources of pollution (hot spots) in the DRB.
  • Developing Appropriate Training Activities. By first undertaking a training needs assessment, the DRP learned that training activities need to build institutional capacities (ICPDR, DEF etc.) as well as to build technical capacities (nutrient reduction, wetland rehabilitation, reduction of toxic substances etc.) to assure increase of knowledge and capacity to act for water management and pollution control. The training needs assessment also served as the basis to prioritize training needs given limited resources (human and financial.)

How have these Lessons been shared with others? The project web page was established in the early stages of the project, in order to disseminate existing available documentation related to the project, as well as to inform the stakeholders, the public and other projects on the context of the project and progress of implementation. The ICPDR together with the DRP hosted two study tour visits: ASREWAM Aral Sea Tacis Project 30560 in July 2004 and a study tour visit of Suzhou Creek Environmental Rehabilitation Leading Office of Shanghai, China in September 2004. The Project results and the cooperation with the ICPDR was presented also at the International Conference on Integrated Water Resources Management, in Tokyo, in December 2004.


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Lessons Learned in Preparing the DRP (See also in the Project Document attached, pp. 45 ff.): Key lessons learned in previous DRB project activities were determined in the process of preparing the overall Danube Regional Project in 2000-2001 and are included in this section. Some important lessons have been learned from a range of GEF and other environmental planning projects in the Danube region, and especially from the GEF-supported Danube Pollution Reduction Program (DPRP), which was completed in June 1999. In the frame of this project, the Danube countries cooperating under the DRPC have achieved important results in terms of capacity building and institutional strengthening. The planning process in elaborating the Transboundary Analysis and in revising the SAP, which involved stakeholders from the local governments, scientific institutions and NGOs had created a high momentum in adopting GEF operational principles for the protection of international waters and ecosystems. Further, the interaction with other organization, in particular the EU Phare and Tacis, the World Bank, the EBRD, etc., and joint actions with the Black Sea Programme have set new standards for regional cooperation. These positive achievements will be consolidated in implementing the Danube / Black Sea Basin Strategic Partnership.
The first phase of the DPRP indicated how time consuming and difficult it is to set up institutional structures, information networks and to introduce new approaches of planning in countries that are in a continuous process of political and economic transition. Based on this experience, it is recommended that – wherever possible - the newly created institutional settings, networks and methodological tools should be reinforced through the Danube Regional Project. Special emphasis should be put on the maximum utilization of the participatory approach that is now fully understood and accepted by the participating countries.
In many transition countries, the policy and legal frame is presently being reviewed and adjusted, focusing in particular on unclear land ownership and uncontrolled resource management (forestry, mining, etc.), which lead to environmental degradation and damage. In many countries, compliance with environmental laws and regulations is not controlled and is consequently very low. This is partially due to structural and organizational weaknesses and more to budgetary limitations. Inter-ministerial coordination is another common and serious problem for project implementation when coordinating structures are missing at national levels. The involvement and cooperation of all relevant governmental bodies, in particular the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Agriculture, of Land Reform, of Foreign Affairs, etc. is essential in the early project preparation phase. Another lesson learned is that project activities conducted by international expert teams without close integration and cooperation with experts from the relevant Danube countries are often not recognized. In the frame of the Environmental Program for the Danube River Basin (EU Phare) many project components have failed to be sufficiently coordinated with the ICPDR and its Expert Groups and thus did not respond to the expressed needs of the beneficiaries. It is therefore recommended that all project components should be carried out under the guidance of the ICPDR and in close cooperation with its expert bodies and that highly qualified national experts/consultants – available in all DRB countries – should be contracted.
A particular feature impacting basin-wide project activities is that of the disparities between the DRB countries, which have clearly different institutional, administrative and economic capabilities and are confronted with qualitatively different requirements. Particular attention should be paid on the one hand to the EU accession countries that have reached a high level of competence and organization and, on the other hand, to the central Danube Basin countries as Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia & Montenegro, which have been affected by the war and political instability. <be> In this context, IW: Learn, a distance education programme whose purpose is to improve the global management of transboundary water systems, will contribute to improve regional cooperation and capacity building. Following the experience gained in the DPRP, IW: LEARN should be connected to the Danube Information System (DANUBIS) and used as an interactive conference capacity across and within GEF international waters projects for sharing information and learning related to nutrient reduction and river basin and coastal zones management. Training courses started during the DPRP will be revitalized and continued to enhance technical knowledge for water managers in nutrient reduction and sustainable management of water resources and ecosystems in the Danube River Basin.

Lessons Learned During Implementation of Phase 1 of the DRP (See also in the Project Document attached, pp. 45 ff.): Some further lessons have been learned based on experience gained in the implementation of Phase 1 of the DRP to date (also contained within the APR/PIR 2004 in Annex 14. of the project document)
The establishment of intensive cooperation with the ICPDR and its structures (co-executing agency and primary beneficiary) and improving administrative and technical capacities to cooperate enhances the effectiveness of project implementation. The ICPDR was formed to implement the Danube River Protection Convention (DRPC) and is, since 2000, the platform for coordinating the implementation of the EU WFD in the DRB.
By proactively working together with the ICPDR at various levels, i.e. the Secretariat, the respective ICPDR Expert Groups and respective National Governments, the GEF project has established excellent cooperation. The project participates, together with relevant contractors where appropriate, in all Expert Groups Meetings organized by the ICPDR (currently 5 Expert Groups and 2 Expert Sub-groups meeting 2 to 3 times per year.) In this way the DRP has a full overview and understanding and can thereby provide the best assistance and input into the further development of the work. Further, these commonly implemented activities serve to improve administrative and technical capacities at the National level based on guidelines and requirements set by the ICPDR and the DRP. In this way, the GEF project plays a catalytic role in stimulating DRB countries to meet their commitments to the DRPC and increasingly the WFD. This encourages national governments to develop appropriate structures for regional cooperation that is thereby facilitating the strengthening of good governance in the Danube River Basin.
A key lesson learned is the benefit of a close link between global environmental objectives and an appropriate legislative framework, in this case the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD). The EU WFD represents, perhaps, the most comprehensive water legislation in the world. It provides an excellent basis for the implementation of the DRP given commonly shared principles such as a basin-wide holistic approach, ecosystem management etc. By linking project activities closely with the WFD implementation, the DRP is both increasing the ability to meet global environmental objectives in the frame of the project, but is also establishing the basis for the sustainability of project results as well as the mechanisms for ongoing improvements after the life of the project.
The DRP has put a large emphasis on supporting increased public participation in DRB cooperation. An important lesson learned is that it is critical to focus on developing appropriate public participation mechanisms and strategies given specific level of activity (regional, national, sub-basin, local.) The DRP is developing grassroots level (bottoms-up) activities via the Small Grants Programme, as well as is supporting the development of the Danube Environmental Forum (DEF) which, as a regional network is capable of working at all levels, sub-basin, national or local levels through its constituent members. The provisions of the WFD provide an opportunity, based on legislative requirements, to enhance public participation within the frame of the ICPDR and its parties for the first time. This will occur concretely by incorporating adequate public participation activities and mechanisms into the process for developing the Danube River Basin Management Plan. Emphasis here will be first at the regional (ICPDR or top) level. However, guidance will also be developed, to assist national governments to incorporate public participation in river basin management at the sub-basin, national and local levels. In addition to the above-mentioned activities, there are considerations to develop a specific project component to improve access to information for key stakeholders and to enhance their abilities to address priority sources of pollution (hot spots) in the DRB.

References

See also

UNESCO water portal; The International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR), case study on Sharing water in the Danube River Basin

The Danube - Environmental Monitoring of an International River

External Resources

ICPDR's Joint Danube Survey 2 (2007) - the biggest river research expedition of its kind in the world this year. Three boats left Germany on 14 Aug 2007, with press conferencs in all major cities downstream...

Attachments

 RegionDanubePD.pdf

 SP progress report 180705 (2).doc  Nutrient Reduction and Transboundary Cooperation NGO Experience Note-2006.doc

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