Environment in emerging and transition economies

Partnership with the EU Water Initiative (EUWI): Water Policy Reforms in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA)


Water Policy Reforms in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia: Achievements of the European Union Water Initiative since 2006

The brochure highlights the main outcomes to which the EUWI contributed in the EECCA countries.

  • Section 2 highlights specific achievements at country level in the context of national policy dialogues facilitated by the OECD and UNECE. 
  • Section 3 focuses on water diplomacy, highlighting progress in the context of transboundary water management and the regional dimension of the EUWI EECCA.
  • Section 4 looks ahead and suggests avenues for future work in the region, highlighting where the input of the EUWI and EU member states can make a difference.
  • Section 5 describes how NPDs work as a process for achieving policy reform.

Follow the links below to find out more about our work and impact in the region: 

The EUWI and the EECCA component EUWI implementation:
OECD and UNECE as strategic partners

National policy dialogues (NPDs)  Major outcomes
of the EUWI in EECCA countries


The EUWI and the EECCA component

The European Union Water Initiative (EUWI) is an international political initiative which was launched at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002. It takes a partnership approach with national governments, donors, the water industry, NGOs and other stakeholders. It works in four regions of the world: Africa, Mediterranean, Eastern Europe; Caucasus; Central Asia (EECCA) and Latin America.

The overriding aim of the EUWI is to support the achievement of the water-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This includes targets for the integration of sustainable development principles into country policies and programmes (goal 7) and a reversal of the losses of environmental resources (target 9). It also comprises an ambitious target to halve the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015 (target 10).

A key operational tool of the EUWI is the Water Framework Directive (WFD). This is an essential legislation for water management promoted by the European Commission. The WFD policies can be tailored to respond to local conditions and priorities. Hence, as countries in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA) share many problems with regard to water management, this component of the EUWI has envisaged several water policy reform goals across the region. Participating countries include: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Ukriane.  

Key objectives are:


Water resources management:
- Improving the institutional and regulatory framework with a view to approximate to the WFD and related legislation;
- Managing water in a way that contributes to water-, food- and energy security, and economic development;

Water supply and sanitation:
Ensuring access of the poor to essential water services as a basic human right;
- Improving the institutional and regulatory framework;
- Encouraging investment in water supply and sanitation and ensuring the
financial viability of utilities;
- Safeguarding public health;

Transboundary cooperation:
 Contributing to peace by developing inter-state cooperative structures for water management.


EUWI implementation: OECD and UNECE as strategic partners

The European Union identified the OECD and the UNECE as strategic partners for the implementation of the EUWI in EECCA. The OECD focuses on the economic dimension of water resources management: managing water as a driver for growth; making the best use of economic instruments for water management; and enhancing the financial sustainability of water supply and sanitation services. The OECD’s contribution is provided within the framework of the Task Force for the Implementation of the Environmental Action Programme (EAP Task Force). The UNECE is the strategic partner for work on Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), including transboundary river basin management. It contributes to the approximation of the EU acquis, building on the Water Convention and its Protocol on Water and Health.

The implementation of the EUWI in EECCA relies on National Policy Dialogues (NPDs). These are platforms where key stakeholders meet to discuss and advance policy reforms (see more details about NPDs in Section 5). NPDs are fed by robust analytical work and international good practice. They are jointly facilitated by the OECD and UNECE.

The EUWI EECCA Working Group


The Working Group consists of representatives of all partner countries (EECCA countries and their partners supporting the reform of water policies). It involves NGOs, private sector and international organisations active in the region as well. Romania acts as Chair of the EECCA Working Group.

The EUWI EECCA Working Group meets once a year, to endorse and oversee the programme of work of the EUWI in the EECCA region. At each meeting, much attention is paid to the exchange of experience with regard to water sector reforms in EECCA.

Past meetings were held in: 



Major outcomes of the EUWI in EECCA countries

Work under the EUWI EECCA is demand driven. It covers a range of topics related to the reform of water policies in EECCA. The following cross-cutting outcomes deserve particular attention:

  • Transparency of decision-making

The key principles of IWRM and the EU WFD are transparency and stakeholder consultation in policymaking and basin management. National Policy Dialogues (NPDs) have been highly effective in instilling these principles in the EECCA region.

  • Coordination across government institutions

Another essential principle of IWRM is to foster coherence and consistency across policies that affect water demand and water availability. NPDs typically convene representatives from a wide range of government ministries and agencies (e.g. those responsible for policy in the areas of water, economic development, finance, agriculture, energy, housing, health) as well as NGOs, allowing for truly integrated decision making on cross-cutting policy issues.

  • Coordination of international organisations and donors

NPDs have become a platform for donors’ exchange of information and coordination on water-related projects. Representatives of EU member states and international organisations are invited to present and share their work in the region. Such coordination supports the planning of activities, avoids duplication of work and ensures efficient and effective use of available funds. It also ensures sharing of best practices and promotion of the EU acquis across the region.

  • Resilience to political change

EUWI NPDs have proven to be resilient processes for policy reform despite political instability in some countries. This has been achieved through the long-standing engagement of a variety of stakeholders and several layers of administration. Fact-based, non-partisan analyses and recommendations developed by the OECD and UNECE have been instrumental in this resilience.

  • Implementation of the WFD principles

The Water Framework Directive and related EU Directives provide a set of principles and policy objectives which are relevant in EECCA. EUWI NPDs have supported convergence with such principles and objectives which guide the reform of water policies in the region. 

Click to enlarge the map for an overview of the EUWI's impact in EECCA countries: 

In addition, country fiches highlight in more detail specific achievements at country level in the context of national policy dialogues facilitated by the OECD and UNECE. The dadar charts synthetise progress along five axes (0-no activity; 2-fully achieved): 

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


Related Documents


Environmental Action Programme Task Force: Greening development in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia

Water supply and sanitation

Natural resources management, including water

National Policy Dialogues on water in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia

Ten years of water sector reform in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia

The water challenge: OECD's response


Countries list

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