The European Union’s Water Initiative Plus (EUWI+) project supports Belarus in its implementation of best international practices on Integrated Water Resources Management, including those summarised in the European Union Water Framework Directive. This will help the country meet its relatively ambitious water policy objectives. One of the targets is a greater level of water security for people in Belarus, including greater access to potable water and reduced risk of water-borne diseases. It will also open new opportunities for economic development and progress towards a green economy.
Better planning in the water and sanitation sector
Climate change impacts pose additional global challenges to water and sanitation facilities due to extreme weather events and other negative consequences. The revised targets of the Protocol on Water and Health of Belarus until 2030 and the action plan for their implementation will support better planning in the water and sanitation sector to address, among others: drinking water quality, water-related diseases and equitable and safe access to water and sanitation, which should help prepare the country for potential climate change impacts.
Belarus is also committed to setting concrete targets to meet Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6), one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals established by the United Nations General Assembly calling for clean water and sanitation for all people. In this context, the EUWI+ project supports Belarus in developing methodologies for calculating and monitoring SDG 6.3-6.5 (linked to the integrated monitoring of water and sanitation), and in reporting on SDG 6.5.2 (transboundary basin area with water cooperation).
Water strategy for 2030: strengthening water security for present and future generations
The UNECE and OECD, two of the four implementing partners of the EUWI+ project, supported the drafting of a new national Water Strategy running up to 2030, with a focus on climate change. They are also supporting the ongoing Strategic Environmental Assessment of the draft Strategy. Strategic Environmental Assessment is a systematic decision-support process, aiming to ensure that environmental and possibly other sustainability aspects are considered effectively in policies, plans and programmes.
In addition, the EUWI+ project accompanies Belarus in developing local capacities to use economic instruments for water management.
Enhancing transboundary cooperation with neighbouring Latvia and Lithuania is another feature of EUWI+ support.
Impressive progress in a short period
The harmonisation of Belarusian water legislation with the European Union water acquis has made impressive progress in a short period, demonstrating the country’s ambition to align its water management framework with the European Union’s framework.
At the start of the EUWI+ project, unlike other Eastern Partnership countries, Belarus had not set up a platform to promote multi-stakeholder policy dialogue on water, involving key actors from different levels of the water governance system.
The national inter-agency coordination committee that steers the implementation of the EUWI+ project in Belarus was established in 2017 and has since served as a platform for policy dialogue. It is now a key platform to facilitate water sector reform and help implement national water policy.