Strengthening regional cooperation in South-Eastern Europe

To assist regional efforts to manage deforestation and water course contamination issues, CDI completed a feasibility study and organised multi-actor workshops to discover opportunities for enhanced cross-border and cross-sector cooperation and collaboration.

There are major concerns in South Eastern Europe (SEE) about deforestation along and close to the water courses and drinking reservoirs, causing soil erosion, deposition of pollutants, clogging of water discharge channels, disturbances in agricultural production and decrease of economic lifetime of hydro power plants. In the meantime each country in the region is faced with the challenge of harmonising legislation and practices with EU regulations, such as the EU Water Framework Directive.

The main objective of the EU Water Framework is to maintain or restore the ecological status of water bodies and rivers. Several other directives, such as the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control, the EU Birds and Habitats Directives and the Urban Waste Water Directive, as well as the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) are closely linked with integrated management of water resources.

Cross-Border Cooperation

The majority of these river basins form cross-border areas managed under the responsibility of separate national governments. The aforementioned issues can only realistically be tackled through an improved process of regional cooperation and coordination between sectors, policy makers and related stakeholders.

The Regional Rural Development Standing Working Group in South Eastern Europe (SWG RRD) is an International Intergovernmental Organisation whose mission is to increase horizontal cooperation among respective countries and territories of South Eastern Europe, by coordinating regional initiatives related to agriculture and rural development and supporting the process of social and economic development of rural areas in SEE region. The SWG has embarked on a project “Strengthening of the regional cooperation/networking in the forestry and water management sector and sustainable development in the river basins of the South-Eastern Europe countries”.

Assessing the Options

As part of the project, Centre for Development Innovation (CDI), Wageningen UR together with Orbicon A/S (Denmark) was contracted to carry out a feasibility study. The aim of the feasibility study is to assess the current situation and responsibilities of different institutions in the water and forestry sector and to determine the necessary steps for the development of a functional network or Commission on sustainable forestry and water management in the South Eastern European region.

As part of the feasibility study for each country, status reports were prepared and workshops with representatives of the forestry and water sector were organised to discuss and analyse options for strengthened cooperation and networking and to identify opportunities for joint projects and initiatives.