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National Policy Dialogue in Armenia ©EUWI+

 

Over the past five years, the EU has supported a combination of policy reform and capacity development at both national and basin scale to improve water management in Armenia for the benefit of people and the environment. Experts representing Armenia, the European Union  and the European Union Water Initiative Plus programme implementing partners (OECD, UNECE, Austria and France) exchanged their views on future needs and country priorities in the water governance domain after 2021.

 

Armenia is undertaking a major reform of its water sector that includes enhancing and fully operationalizing a shift towards basin management of water resources to comply with the European Union Water Framework Directive (WFD) requirements. The reform includes completing the development of River Basin Management plans and further strengthening the water monitoring system.  In July 2020, the Minister of Environment approved a roadmap to align national water legislation with the European Union regulations (regarding water management, urban waste water and pollution by nitrates) in line with the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement between Armenia and the European Union. 

The current reform agenda and remaining challenges in the water sector were the focus of discussions at the 19th Steering Committee meeting of the National Policy Dialogue on Integrated Water Resources Management on 27 May 2021. Delegates from national authorities, local stakeholders, NGOs and international experts from EU Member States gathered in a virtual meeting to share achieved progress and practical experiences of the water reform journey and to discuss the next steps to ensure the environmentally sound management of water resources.

 

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National Policy Dialogue in Armenia ©EUWI+

 

“The Ministry of Environment extends special thanks and gratitude to the European Union, EU delegation in Armenia and EUWI+ project for very valuable and significant support and assistance, and expresses hope of continuing the successful cooperation, particularly in moving towards implementation of the requirements, undertaken by Armenia under the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement.” said Mr. Artyom Mkhitaryan, EUWI+ Project National Focal Point for Armenia, Head of the Department of Licenses, Permits and Compliances of the Ministry of Environment and Chair of the meeting.

Mr. Andrea Baggioli, EU Delegation to Armenia stated “CEPA foresees joint EU-Armenia cooperation at preserving, protecting and rehabilitating the environment, and utilising natural resources in a sustainable manner, including in the areas of water quality and resource management. With cleaner rivers, we also have more opportunities for sustainable economic growth. Our EU-Armenia shared goal & responsibility is to evolve into resource-efficient, low-carbon economies. While targeting the net-zero greenhouse gas emission objective, the EU-Armenia-Team Europe eco-sustainable approach will result in green growth and jobs.”

Mr Alexander Zinke, team leader of the EUWI+ consortium of the Environment Agency Austria  and the International Office of Water from France added: “With the various EU support and guidance, Armenia has available now multi-functional planning instruments, analytical equipment and trained experts for a modern protection and management of its surface and groundwater resources”.

Two river basin management plans for the pilot river basins of Hrazdan and Sevan are now ready for adoption and the first public hearings in the framework of the Environmental Impact Assessment took place successfully on 11 May 2021. Law enforcement at the national level will ensure the further implementation of these plans to help manage water resources for sustainable development. In line with the roadmap adopted in July 2020, the European Union has supported through EUWI+ a major set of amendments to the Water Code and other key water legislation in Armenia. Support was also provided in the area of water and health through revision of national targets in the context of the Protocol on Water and Health, which gained specific importance in the times of the COVID-19 crisis.

 

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National Policy Dialogue in Armenia ©EUWI+

 

Transboundary cooperation was given an impetus despite the sanitary crisis, with the organisation of a simultaneous field survey with Georgia on the Debed river, a first step to increase comparability of collected data and coordinate environmental monitoring at each side of the transboundary river. Participants discussed at the meeting, the options for formalizing in the near future transboundary cooperation with Georgia on this important river. Water monitoring activities in Armenia can now match the modern approaches of the EU Water Framework Directive. Thanks to EU investment in laboratory renovation, staff training and new equipment, pollution from industry, local communes and agriculture can be better detected. Six monitoring stations automatically record changes in river flows.

Participants expressed their appreciation of support provided by the European Union and stressed importance of continuation of this work in the coming years.

Background info:

National Policy Dialogues (NPDs) are the main operational instruments under the European Union Water Initiative in the countries of Eastern Europe and the Caucasus. The objective of National Policy Dialogues is to facilitate the reform of water policies in a particular country. The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe is the strategic partner for NPDs on Integrated Water Resources Management; the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is the strategic partner for NPDs on Water Supply and Sanitation and also works on the economic and financial dimension of water policies. http://www.unece.org/env/water/npd