Environment in emerging and transition economies

National policy dialogue (NPD) in Azerbaijan



Year of NPD launch:  2010

Present NPD Chair(s) and strategic partners in the government: Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources, State Water Agency (Ministry of Emergencies), Ministry of Economic Development

Source of NPD funding: European Union, Government of Finland, Government of Germany, OSCE

Priority areas of work and main activities

  • Development of the National Water Strategy for the management of water resources and an action plan for its implementation.
  • Harmonisation of water legislation with the EU WFD and IWRM principles.
  • Introduction of water management, at basin level, based on a pilot project.
  • Promotion of transboundary water diplomacy and cooperation with neighbouring Georgia, including the preparation of a bilateral agreement on the management of shared water resources.
  • Reform of economic instruments for water management in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia.

Since the launch of the NPD, the following meetings and missions have been taking place to assist Armenia in the NPD process:

  • The First Steering Committee meeting was organized in October 2010 in Baku. Participants focused on the development of a government strategy for the management of water resources. The Government of Finland contributed with expert support to the preparation of this strategy. Transboundary water cooperation with the neighbouring Georgia, specifically the preparation of a bilateral agreement on management of shared transboundary waters, was another important issue on the agenda. The UNECE and OSCE prepared a bilateral agreement between Azerbaijan and Georgia on the protection and use of water resources in the Kura River basin. The OECD joined the NPD activities in Azerbaijan in 2011 by providing the methodological tools for monitoring the performance of water utilities in Azerbaijan. A major achievement in 2012 was the finalisation of a new, draft National Water Strategy which aimed to introduce the principles of integrated water resources management (IWRM) as reflected in the EU Water Framework Directive and the UNECE Water Convention. This  included strengthening the protection of water resources and ecosystems, meeting the needs of different water users, promoting water saving, and improving transboundary water cooperation. The Water Strategy was drafted with short-term (6 years), medium-term (18 years) and long-term objectives. 

  • The Second Steering Committee meeting was held on 8 June 2012 in Baku. The Committee reviewed the draft Water Strategy as well as the progress made on transboundary water cooperation with Georgia.  It seeked to identify synergies and opportunities for further international cooperation in regional / local projects. The OECD provieded an overview of exisiting economic instruments - and their potential further application - in Azerbaijan. In 2012 preparatory activities started in the view of a bilateral agreement between Azerbaijan and Georgia for the joint management of the transboundary Kura river basin. 
  • The Fourth Steering Committee meeting was held on 27 February 2015, Baku. The meeting was attended by the representatives of the government, international organisations and NGOs. The agenda allowed all partners to update the Steering Committee on their recent activities in Azerbaijan's water sector. The decisions of the Steering Committee were reflected in the minutes.

Key achievements of the NPD to date

  • The National Water Strategy has been drafted. It will be submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers for approval in 2014.
  • A benchmarking study on water utilities has strengthened the capacity of Azeri authorities to monitor the performance of the water supply and sanitation sector. This already contributes to improved policy making in the WSS sector.
  • Developments in negotiating a bilateral agreement with Georgia on joint management of the transboundary Kura river basin have been reported and discussed at the NPD Steering Committee meetings.
  • In 2013 the UNECE started a pilot project for testing the approach of water-food-energy-ecosystems nexus in transboundary Alazani/Ganykh river basin, which is shared by Azerbaijan and Georgia.

This radar chart synthetises the level of achievements along five axes within the NPD process in Kazakhstan (0-no activity; 2-fully achieved): 

- Transboundary water management
- National strategies on water, nexus
- The development of RBMPs
- The economis and financial dimensions of WRM
- WSS and Water and Health

Plans for the future

  • The National Water Strategy is expected to be adopted in 2014. Work on water-sector legislation will follow.
  • Support to water diplomacy between Azerbaijan and Georgia will continue through an assessment of the potential economic benefits of enhanced transboundary cooperation and through negotiations on a bilateral agreement.
  • In 2014 the process for target-setting under the Protocol on Water and Health will commence.
  • Transboundary water management and reforms that will facilitate investment in water infrastructures and water services are promising avenues for further work, in line with the Government’s priorities.