UNECE to help Azerbaijan finalize its water sector strategy
At a 23 January 2014 meeting in Baku, key stakeholders of the National Policy Dialogue (NPD) Steering Committee of Azerbaijan agreed to finalize the State water strategy within the next few months. Development of the strategy has been supported by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). The long-debated strategy, once finalized, will lay the ground for the adoption of the key principles of integrated water resources management (IWRM) and initiate the process of relevant changes in national legislation, bringing it into line with the European Union Water Framework Directive.
Main challenges faced by Azerbaijan in water sector are the scarcity of resources and water pollution. As some 70 per cent of Azerbaijan’s surface water is transboundary, the principles of the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) have been used as basis when drafting the national water strategy.
Around 30 representatives of different stakeholders and donors attended the meeting in Baku. Participants welcomed the proposal to initiate the process of target setting under the UNECE-World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe (WHO/Europe) Protocol on Water and Health. Azerbaijan is a Party to the Protocol, but so far has not defined its national targets, required by the Protocol.
According to 2012 data, 92 per cent of the urban population in Azerbaijan and 74 per cent of rural dwellers have access to improved water sources. Even though there are large ongoing investment projects to increase drinking water supply and wastewater treatment, the national targets under the Protocol on Water and Health could help to guide the process.
In order to meet the priorities set in the 2014 workplan, the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Azerbaijan will establish three working groups under the NPD process. The working groups on economic aspects will look at economic models that could help to achieve financial sustainability of the water management. A legal working group will first finalize the State water strategy, starting than to analyse further legislative changes needed. The third working group will be dealing with water quality monitoring issues with special attention to the state of transboundary rivers.
Note to editors:
NPDs on IWRM and Water Supply and Sanitation are the main operational instrument of the European Union Water Initiative (EUWI) Component for Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. UNECE is the strategic partner for support to the policy dialogue processes on IWRM.
NPDs are under way in the following countries of the region: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Republic of Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Ukraine. More information is available at: www.unece.org/env/water/npd.
EU Water Initiative (EUWI) National Policy Dialogues