OECD and UNECE have actively promoted water policy reforms under the EUWI over the past decades. Jointly the two organisations have a good experience on how to initiate and sustain policy reforms that are well adapted to the situation in EECCA countries (see OECD, 2011, Ten Years of Water Sector Reform in EECCA, for a review of recent experience).
The current action builds on outcomes and the political momentum initiated by the OECD and UNECE under the EU-funded contract DCI-ENV/2008/149-674, carried out in 2008-2012. That project supported mapping of the situation and initiation of National Policy Dialogues on water in eight EECCA countries.
They essentially work in the context of National Policy Dialogues on water. These are structured processes where stakeholders meet to discuss policy reforms. The process is fed by robust analytical work and international good practice, to advance the discussions. NPDs result in policy packages, owned by the interested parties.
The dialogues are continued in:
one additional NPD is being initiated in Kazakhstan; new developments in Russia are in progress.
Some of the major directions of work and outputs include:
- Work was carried out to support national Water Sector Reform Strategies in Azerbaijan and Tajikistan, to be finalised in 2013;
- A Group of National Experts has started drafting new national Water Laws/Codes in Georgia and Turkmenistan;
- Expert work was carried out to set or implement national targets for water and health in Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova and Tajikistan;
- Work on strengthening the use of economic instruments for water management is underway at national level (in Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Russia) and at transboundary level (in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia);
- Projects have been completed in Moldova, on adapting the water infrastructure to climate change and on sustainable business models for rural sanitation;
- Analyses have made the case for the reform of subsidies that are detrimental to water in Kyrgyzstan.
In addition to analytical work, a number of meetings have been organized:
- 13 high-level EUWI NPD Steering Committee meetings were held in 7 countries;
- Stakeholder meetings were organised in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan;
- The 16th meeting of the European Union Water Initiative (EUWI) Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA) Working Group took place on 2 July 2012 in Geneva, Switzerland;
- A side event on EUWI NPDs was organized during the Sixth Water Convention Meeting of the Parties (MOP) in Rome, 28 November 2012. NPDs were also presented and discussed at the plenary of the MOP, receiving strong support from delegates;
- The EUWI Working Group Chair, OECD and UNECE representatives participated in an EUWI Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was organized during the World Water Week in Stockholm (21-26 August 2012);
- Communication activities were significantly strengthened.
Recent outcomes have lead to policy packages backed by working programmes and analytical work in the countries. This approach has generated many tangible results supporting, among others, national water sector reform processes, financing strategies and investment plans, improvements of legal framework and institution and capacity building. The multi-stakeholder approach engaging partners, which historically have not cooperated, has proved a solid vehicle for joint solutions.
Selected examples of outcomes
- In Kyrgyzstan, a government agency responsible for both urban and rural WSS was established, in line with the recommendations of the NPD on Financing WSS in KR held in 2008-2010;
- In Russia, the Federal Law “On concession agreements” was improved and a new Federal Law on Water Supply and Sanitation was adopted, in line with recommendations from the regional policy dialogue meeting on private sector participation in WSS and follow up policy dialogue events.
- Finalisation of an important policy package - national targets for water and health under the Protocol on Water and Health –for the Republic of Moldova. Targets were drafted also for Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
- Initiation of the new national water law / water code in Georgia and in Turkmenistan in order to create the legal basis for the principles of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).
- Starting the work on national Water Sector Reform Strategies in Azerbaijan and Tajikistan (to be finalised in 2013).
- Establishment of a river basin council for the Chu river basin in Kyrgyzstan and preparation of background materials for a basin management plan.
In addition to country specific outcomes, some cross-cutting achievements deserve attention:
- Strategic Partners committed to support the implementation. It has proved most important to include international organisations already active in the EECCA region building on and extending existing agreements and collaboration programmes.
- Dissemination of best practices. Dissemination has been (and is) carried out in many ways – through the NPDs, the EUWI EECCA Working Group meetings and, since 2011, through the newsletter. It has been substantially strengthened in recent years.
In addition to EUWI, some of the projects benefited from the generous support of donors keen to improve water management in the region. The government of the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland.
Partnership with the EU Water Initiative (EUWI) on the reform of water policies