The Regional meeting of Balkan’s countries “Water Convention and Transboundary water dialogue as an instrument for Adaptation to Climate Change” Print
News Waterfall - News Waterfall #8
Friday, 28 December 2012 14:25

On 19 December 2012 the Regional meeting of Balkan’s countries “Water Convention and Transboundary water dialogue as an instrument for Adaptation to Climate Change” was held in Skopje, Former Yugoslavian Republic (FYR) of Macedonia. This meeting was organized by NGOs Journalists for Human Rights together with WECF and with a support of the UN ECE.

Representatives of 17 NGO and governmental organizations, as well as public institutions of Former Yugoslavian Republic (FYR) of Macedonia, Greece, Albania and Kosovo discussed different problems of water management in the Balkan region in the context of Water Convention and its Protocol on Water and Health promotion. This Meeting was dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the Water Convention.

The participants of this meeting emphasized that access to clean drinking water is a human right guaranteed by the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which itself implies a greater concern for the existing water relations, because water is a basis for the existence of the world. As a result of climate change, there is a risk that decreasing access to water resources can be a cause for the possible third world war.

Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia has not yet signed the Water Convention and does not plan to do so for the next years. There is a lack of knowledge and awareness about water problems and water resources management in the society and among the NGOs. However the Protocol on Water and Health to the Water Convention will be ratified soon, because Macedonia is working on it.

As a result of the presentations of the Balkan water issues and problems discussion in the context of the Water Convention the participants of the Meeting formulated the following challenges:

  • There are only few Balkan NGOs working on water issues. For example, in FYR of Macedonia, 92% of NGOs in general do not know about the Water Convention and that it was not ratified by the FYR of Macedonia, while more of them know about the Protocol on Water and Health due to the Institute of Public Health actively work on public awareness rising on this topic.
  • Balkan countries have access to safe drinking water. FYR of Macedonia and Greece have access to safe water over 90% that is not the case for some European countries. Albania has made a huge step forward, and in Kosovo there are problems with access to improved drinking water and a solution has not been found yet, given that they have water sources.
  • While in general in the Balkans there is no problem with access to safe drinking water, there is a problem with inadequate sanitation in rural areas, often there is a lack of sanitation. There is water, but no sewer.
  • The Balkan region has non epidemic related to drinking water, but there is a lack of a culture of hygiene that causes epidemic;
  • With regard to the Protocol on Water and Health as a tool for climate change adaptation, the Balkans should find mechanism to combat new diseases that occur in response to climate change. In Greece, for example, there is malaria, but there is no steps taken to stop its propagation, there is no requirement on vaccination against this disease, taking into account the development of the country's tourism. Moreover, West Nile virus is appeared as indigenous in Greece. Drinking water is disinfected in all settlements by chlorination.
  • The participants of the Meeting were informed about the Drin dialogue, which is an on-going process and very interesting tool for adaptation of Drin basin water resources management to climate change. Within Drin basin region there were built two hydroelectric power plants (HPP) on the Macedonian side and three HPPs on Albanian territory. There is a plan to build one HPP in Kosovo. The agreement on transboundary waters management is of great importance for all Balkan countries, taking into account that almost all watercourses run through neighbouring countries.
  • The participants of the meeting have discussed the problems of the plan of some Indian company to build the commercial tourist resort on the Lake Ohrid, which is under protection of UNESCO. This plan would disrupt the water and the flora and fauna in the lake. UNESCO has sent letter to the Macedonian government with request on information about building plan on the Ohrid Lake.
  • The participants supported and promoted the International Park, which is located in Ohrid and Prespa Lakes region between FYRof Macedonia, Albania and Greece. The development of the special regulation to protect the waters of the two lakes by three countries is needed.

All water problems discussed during the Regional meeting dedicated to the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Water Convention adoption, were reflected in the NGO Statement which will be sent to the Member Parties of the Water Convention and the Protocol on Water and Health. Also, NGOs highlighted the need to develop more cooperation between the UN international organizations and local NGOs to build the capacities and to raise awareness on different water issues and to develop water cooperation among them. NGOs call upon the Government of FYR of Macedonia to join the Water Convention and to ratify its Protocol on Water and Health.

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