Environment in emerging and transition economies

Natural resources management, including water



OECD supports the reform of natural resources management in countries of Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA). Activities in EECCA draw upon similar work undertaken by the OECD in member countries, including on water resource management, biodiversity and adaptation to climate change.

This programme essentially promotes the reform of the institutional framework (e.g., water quality standards) and the use of economic instruments for water resource management.

This work essentially takes the form of National Policy Dialogues, an iterative and participative policy process substantiated by robust analytical information, which aims at making reform happen. This programme can contribute to the National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs) in EECCA. It facilitates convergence of EECCA regulation with EU Environmental legislation, including the Water Framework Directive. Work in this area supports the reform of natural resources management in EECCA. It contributes to enhanced environmental performance and paves the way towards greener growth, by helping EECCA countries to make the best use of their natural endowment.


In the field of water, work develops along two axes:

  • Water quality regulation.
  • The use of economic instruments. In the wider context of water policy reform, economic instruments (e.g. abstraction charges, pollution charges, payment for watershed services) can help to manage the demand for water, allocate the resource where it creates most value, and generate revenues to cover the costs of water management and of water-related infrastructures and services.

This work provides a context for the reform of water supply and sanitation in EECCA and sets the stage for more robust adaptation strategies to climate change in the region.


Water Quality Regulation


The current system of surface water quality regulation in EECCA countries contains standards for a large number of parameters, while the number of those actually monitored is much smaller. Even more importantly, it imposes the same standards on all surface waters in the country without consideration of actual, or realistically planned, water uses.


Many EECCA countries have started a convergence process with the EU environmental legislation, and bringing their water management requirements in line with the principles of the Water Framework Directive is a high priority. A first attempt to test some elements of the EU-inspired approach was made within a pilot project in Moldova, where a proposal was developed for a system of surface water quality management that integrates all water uses, water pollution parameters and water quality standards into one regulatory framework in an explicit and transparent way.


This approach will form the basis of an EECCA regional guidance document whose objective is to promote the adoption of a flexible framework for ambitious but feasible surface water quality requirements that would account for the economic and social impact of regulation.