By Annukka Lipponen Environmental Affairs Officer at the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).
A participatory assessment process is on-going until September 2014 with the involvement of relevant sector ministries and other stakeholders from Azerbaijan and Georgia with a view to applying an intersectoral approach to resource management, taking into account the interrelations between water, land use (agriculture in particular), the energy sector and ecosystems in the Alazani/Ganikh River Basin. A better understanding of the complex interlinkages between these resources — the so-called water-food-energy-ecosystems nexus —and joint identification of ways to strengthen synergies and policy coherence in the management of these different resources is necessary to reduce tensions between sectoral objectives, in particular in transboundary settings.
UNECE, in cooperation with partners, notably the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH, Stockholm) and the Food Agriculture Organization (FAO), is developing a highly participatory nexus assessment methodology for transboundary basins with an important capacity building dimension to this end. As a key step in the process, a piloting workshop was organized in Kachreti, Georgia, to discuss with local stakeholders about the intersectoral and transboundary aspects of managing the resources of the Alazani/Ganikh River Basin shared by the two countries. The co-organizing partners were the UNDP/GEF project “Reducing Transboundary Degradation in the Kura Aras River Basin” and the Ministry of Environment Protection and Natural Resources of Georgia.
Among the many findings from the engaging group discussions were the recognition of the decisive importance of energy policies for protecting ecosystem and water resources from the negative effects of deforestation, as well as the value of improving water infrastructure, including for irrigation and treatment, to reduce pressure on natural resources and in turn improve local economy.
A set of basins in the pan-European region, Africa and Asia will be assessed by mid-2015 under the UNECE Water Convention using the same methodology in revised form.
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