Parliamentary Assembly
Assembl�e
parlementaire

Transboundary water basins in Europe

Doc. 10131
8 April 2004

Report
Committee on the Environment, Agriculture and Local and Regional Affairs
Rapporteur: Mr Latchezar Toshev, Bulgaria, Group of the European People’s Party


Summary

The concept of the hydrographical basin as an instrument for water resource management has made its mark internationally over the past fifty years and the development potential of transboundary river basins and lakes has emerged as a cornerstone for international co-operation.

The principle of international freshwater management addresses problems related to water resources and services through an integrated approach that considers a basin as a single management and planning unit. As a matter of fact, integrated water resource management is also an instrument of transfrontier co-operation, promoting dialogue and creating common interests among each basin’s co-riparian states, linking a number of vital activities within an international basin.

The Parliamentary Assembly points out that integrated management of shared water resources must be carried out at catchment basin level and that local and regional authorities should be given appropriate responsibilities in this field. It invitesmember states to develop transfrontier co-operation for the integrated management of transboundary rivers and lakes, in particular through bilateral and multilateral agreements for the introduction of harmonised policies, programmes and strategies to protect transboundary waters based on sound environmental, social and economic criteria.

I.          Draft Recommendation [Link to the adopted text]

1.         The Parliamentary Assembly reasserts the Council of Europe’s ongoing commitment to the protection and management of water resources and to compliance with the principles laid down in the European Charter on Water Resources.

2.         It refers to its Recommendation … (2004) on the management of water resources in Europe and to its Recommendation 1480 (2000) on the protection and management of the Danube basin.

3.         It also draws attention to the relevant international instruments in this field, in particular the UN-ECE Convention on the protection and use of transboundary watercourses and international lakes (Helsinki, 1992) and the Convention on the Law of the Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses (New York, 1997), expressing its regret that the latter has not yet entered into force.

4.         In this context, the Assembly welcomes the adoption of the European Union Water Framework Directive in 2001 and calls on the European Union member states and acceding countries to implement it. This Directive can also be used as a “reference system” for transboundary water management by non European Union member states.

5.         The Assembly supports the Initiative on the Sustainable Spatial Development of the TiszaRiver Basin signed at the European Conference of Ministers responsible for Regional Planning in Ljubljana (Slovenia) in September 2003.

6.         The concept of the hydrographical basin as an instrument for water resource management has made its mark internationally over the past fifty years and the development potential of transboundary river basins and lakes has emerged as a cornerstone for international co-operation.

7.         Transboundary water resource management helps promote dialogue among peoples and develop common interests between basin states. It therefore represents a means to achieve lasting stability and peace in Europe and to create solidarity between people. Basin management can also encourage good governance, sustainable development, a strengthening of decentralisation and the prevention and resolution of conflicts.

8.         The Assembly points out that integrated management of shared water resources should be carried out at catchment basin level and that local and regional authorities should be given appropriate responsibilities in this field.

9.         In this respect, the Assembly invitesmember states to develop transfrontier co-operation for the integrated management of transboundary rivers and lakes, in particular through bilateral and multilateral agreements for the introduction of harmonised policies, programmes and strategies to protect transboundary waters based on sound environmental, social and economic criteria. They can namely promote and strengthen co-operation through the creation of euro-regions.

10.        It invites member states to consider applying to the Interreg Programmes (strand A) financed by the European Regional Development Fund, for which all areas along the internal and external land borders of the European Community are eligible.

11.        Moreover, the Assembly invites Andorra, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, San Marino, Serbia and Montenegro and “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, which are states sharing transboundary water basins, to sign and/or ratify the Council of Europe Outline Convention on Transfrontier Co-operation between Territorial Communities and Authorities.

12.        In particular, it calls on Albania, Greece, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” and Bulgaria to strengthen dialogue, particularly at parliamentary level, for the integrated management at regional level of transboundary rivers and lakes. It also calls on Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia to set up and pursue a similar dialogue within the Caucasus region.

13.        The Assembly expresses its readiness to promote this parliamentary dialogue and to co-operate with the authorities of the countries concerned.

14.        It calls on the governments of Albania, Greece and “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” and the governments of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, to draw up common plans of action and jointly take urgent measures to address the problems and threats to respectively the Ohrid, Prespa and Dojran lakes and the Sevan lake as well as to transboundary rivers in those regions. 

15.        In addition, the Assembly invites member states to:

i.    strengthen their national integrated water resources management systems and basin organisations, as stipulated in Committee of Ministers Recommendation Rec(2001)14 on the European Charter on Water Resources;

ii.    step up legislative and administrative measures to give local and regional authorities all the necessary responsibilities in the management of water resources;

iii.    develop parliamentary co-operation to promote integrated transboundary water resource management.

16.        The Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers:

i.    draft a recommendation on the role and necessary powers of local and regional authorities with regard to the management of transboundary water resources;

ii.    draft a model agreement on the management of transboundary lakes and river basins to be incorporated into the Council of Europe Outline Convention on Transfrontier Co-operation between Territorial Communities and Authorities;

iii.    envisage the organisation of a donor conference under the auspices of the Council of Europe Development Bank for raising the necessary funds for implementation of the above-mentioned common action plans for the preservation of transboundary water basins.

17.        The Assembly further encourages the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe to promote the role and responsibilities of local and regional authorities with regard to the management of water resources and, in particular, transboundary water basins.

II. Explanatory memorandum by Mr Toshev

Contents

Foreword

1.    Introduction: the concept of water basin management

2.    The new dimensions of water resources

a.    The UN-ECE Convention on the protection and use of transboundary watercourses and international lakes

b.    European Union Water Framework Directive

3.    Water basin management and transfrontier co-operation: case studies

a.    River basins

b.    Transboundary lakes

4.    Conclusions and proposals

Foreword

1.         The Parliamentary Assembly, and especially its Committee on the Environment, Agriculture and Local and Regional Affairs, has always been concerned about water issues. On the Assembly’s initiative the Committee of Ministers adopted the European Water Charter in 1968, the first of its kind by an international organisation, which it revised in 2001[1]. In 1992 and 1993 the Committee on the Environment, Agriculture and Local and Regional Affairs organised the “Freshwater Europe” Action Programme, which prompted the presentation of a report and the adoption of Recommendation 1224 (1993) on the protection and management of freshwater resources in Europe.

2.         As part of the International Year of Freshwater 2003, the Committee on the Environment, Agriculture and Local and Regional Affairs had already decided to prepare a report based on the motion for a resolution on the “Need for European support for protecting and saving Dojran, Prespa and Ohrid lakes”[2].

3.         At its meeting in Yerevan (Armenia) in June 2002, the Committee visited LakeSevan and held a hearing dealing with transfrontier co-operation between Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia concerning the SevanBasin. This gave the Committee a new impetus to look at the question of transboundary lakes and water basins in a wider context and as a basis and opportunity for co-operation between member states at national, regional and local level. Consequently, the Committee decided to extend the scope of this report to “Transboundary water basins in Europe”.

1.         Introduction: the concept of water basin management

4.         The concept of hydrographical basin has gradually taken hold internationally over the past fifty years. A water basin is an area of land from which all surface water flows through a sequence of streams, rivers and, possibly, lakes into the sea at a single river mouth, estuary or delta.

5.         The fact that the flow of waters ignores political boundaries significantly limits the scope for management made possible by institutional frontiers. Moreover, the complex physical, political and human interactions within international river basins can make the management of these shared water systems particularly difficult.

6.         The principle of international freshwater management seeks to discourage unilateral changes to basins and harmful modifications of international rivers, and to advocate the setting up of joint water commissions. The idea is to address problems related to water resources and services through an integrated approach that considers a basin as a single management and planning unit.

7.         Integrated water resource management is also an instrument of transfrontier cooperation, promoting dialogue and creating common interests among each basin’s co-riparian states, linking a number of vital activities within an international basin (agriculture, industry, recreation, human health, etc).

8.         A waterway or a lake is transboundary - or international - where its catchment area and use are shared between two or more states. The number of international basins however, as well as the countries they cross, changes over time whenever the world geopolitical map is redrawn. In Europe for example, the break up of the Soviet Union and of the former Yugoslavia led to the “internationalisation” of several basins (the Dniepr, Don and Volga basins).

9.         There are currently 263 international basins world-wide, accounting for approximately 60% of global freshwater flow.  Two persons out of every five live in an international basin.  This demonstrates how important it is for riparian states to co-operate in managing a basin's water resources.

10.        As basins are dealt with in a global approach, the hydrological linkages formed by the international basin create shared interests among each basin’s states, linking a number of vital activities within an international basin, such as agriculture, industry, recreation, hydropower and human health. Moreover, basin states have shown a great deal of creativity in formulating treaty provisions tailored to the unique hydrological, political and cultural settings of their individual basins.

11.        There is no legislation at international level laying down legally binding rules. Only two conventions for the protection of transboundary waterways and international lakes have been concluded: the 1992 United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN-ECE) Convention on the protection and use of transboundary watercourses and international lakes (Helsinki Convention) and the 1997 Convention on the Law of the Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses (New York Convention). The latter Convention has not yet entered into force, pending its ratification by 35 countries.

12.        The 1997 UN Convention on the Law of the Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses codified the principle of “equitable and reasonable utilisation” and the obligation “not to cause significant harm” and established a framework for the exchange of data and information, the protection and preservation of shared water bodies, the creation of joint management mechanisms, and the settlement of disputes.  It might be argued that the fact that the Convention has not been ratified hampers explicit approval of this UN Convention; however, implicit support for the international water management principles laid down in the text has been made clear through subsequent political statements. The Hague Ministerial Declaration (World Water Forum, March 2000) on Water Security in the 21st Century singled out as a main challenge to be met in order to achieve water security, the management of international shared water resources to promote peaceful co-operation between different users through co-operation between adjacent states.  In this context, internationally shared waters represent a substantial and secure supply for many socio-economic uses that are essential for national and regional water security.

2.         The new dimensions of water resources

a.         The UN-ECE Convention on the protection and use of watercourses and international lakes

13.        Signed in Helsinki on 17 March 1992 and today ratified by 34 states[3], the Convention on the protection and use of watercourses and international lakes, known as the Helsinki Convention, lays down the framework for co-operation between UN-ECE member states and is a European reference instrument for the prevention and control of pollution of transboundary watercourses.  Its objective is to strengthen national measures for the protection and environmentally sound management of surface and ground water systems.  Parties to the Convention undertake to adopt all appropriate measures to prevent, control or reduce any transboundary impact[4] in order to:

14.        The Convention also stipulates that measures for the prevention, control and reduction of water pollution shall be taken, where possible, at source and shall not directly or indirectly result in a transfer of pollution to other parts of the environment.  These measures should be guided by the following three key principles:

15.        The Riparian Parties[7] are required to co-operate on the basis of equality and reciprocity, in particular through bilateral and multilateral agreements, and to draw up, adopt and apply appropriate legal, administrative, economic, financial and technical measures.

16.        The Convention also encourages co-operation among the Riparian Parties in order to develop harmonised policies, programmes and strategies covering the relevant catchment areas, or parts thereof, by

17.        The Riparian Parties must carry out, at regular intervals, joint or co-ordinated assessments of the conditions of transboundary waters and the effectiveness of measures taken for the prevention, control and reduction of transboundary impact, and devise programmes to monitor the conditions of transboundary waters.  The Parties must co-operate on research and development activities regarding effective techniques for preventing, controlling and reducing transboundary impact.  The Convention also encourages Parties to co-operate and exchange information on the best available technology and foster co-operation in scientific research programmes.

18.        Should a critical situation arise, the Riparian Parties must provide mutual assistance upon request.

19.        A Protocol on Water and Health to the 1992 Convention was adopted in London on 17 June 1999 and signed by 24 states[8].  The objective of the Protocol is to promote, at all appropriate levels, nationally as well as in transboundary and international contexts, the protection of human health and well-being, both individual and collective, within a context of sustainable development, through improving water management, including the protection of water ecosystems, and through preventing, controlling and reducing water-related disease.

20.   A Protocol on civil liability and compensation for damage caused by the transboundary effects of industrial accidents on transboundary waters was signed in Kyiv on 21 May 2003 by 22 states[9].

            b.         European Union Water Framework Directive[10]

21.        In Europe, problems of transboundary management of both surface and groundwater are frequent: an institutional and legal vacuum with regard to both the principle and implementation of management, despite its being of vital importance for economic and social development; absence of development vision and fragmentation of action through the involvement of different countries; lack of an interdisciplinary, integrated approach bringing together different disciplines and users in the management of the water bodies; often weak institutional capacities, at both transboundary and national level.

22.        However, it should be pointed out that groundwater is confronted by additional difficulties owing to a greater lack of information (eg: there is no inventory of shared groundwater aquifers in south-eastern Europe).  There are UN-ECE guidelines on the monitoring and assessment of shared groundwater and aquifers, but they are not binding and they make no special reference to socio-economic effects. 

23.        The need to manage and protect transboundary waters in a sustainable way is increasingly becoming a formal requirement since many European Countries have short, medium or long term commitments to comply with European Union (EU) legislation, and in particular with the Water Framework Directive (WFD).  Further, many countries also wish to comply with their commitments under the relevant UN-ECE conventions and guidelines (see above).

24.        The WFD, which entered into force in October 2000, is based on the concept of integrated river basin management and can thus offer input for best practices in transboundary water management, even for countries that are not member states of the European Union.

25.        The WFD reorganises European water legislation and acts as an umbrella incorporating all water-related elements and topics, based on the concept of integrated river basin management. The WFD sets clear environmental objectives, not only pollution limits but also ecological objectives viewed from a holistic perspective, ie not only looking at industry but also at biology. It extends to all aquatic systems, including surface waters (rivers and lakes), groundwater and coastal waters. Land ecosystems dependent on groundwater are also included in the quantitative protection of groundwater.

26.        The WFD also focuses on a series of cost-effective measures, setting specific deadlines, between 2003 and 2004, for member states to comply with the different aspects of the Directive, including groundwater data and monitoring. A new groundwater directive is currently in the drafting stage and should soon be approved by the European Parliament.

27.        A number of activities at European level have been set up with the aim of determining how the WFD could be implemented, ie activities on monitoring, economic aspects and groundwater, and activities at national level to work out realistic approaches to implementing these requirements. Several pilot projects are being implemented to test different aspects of the WFD, as well as integrated approaches. The considerable wealth of knowledge acquired from implementation of the WFD can now serve as a reference for south-east European countries, especially in the case of transboundary waters involving current European Union member states and future member states for 2004 and beyond.  Playing the “European card”, future member states should seek to persuade the relevant stakeholders to co-operate, bearing in mind that they will have to comply with the Directive anyway, on a political and technical level. The theoretical basis and principles of the WFD are sound and form an integral system.

28.        The WFD’s objective is to “concentrate, rationalise and standardise as well as improve the efficiency of European water protection legislation”[11].

29.        Its main target is the “good status” of all waters in the Community by 2015, a distinction being drawn between the ecological and chemical status of water.The basic thinking behind the term “good ecological status” is that water can be used by humans as long as the ecological function of the aquifer is not significantly impaired.

30.        To achieve this objective, the WFD introduced three new principles:

a.      the river basin principle, according to which water management should be carried out within individual basins;

b.      the principle of public involvement, according to which the public should be involved in supervision of the use and development of water resources;

c.      the principle of economic efficiency, according to which water management is subject to the principles of economics (polluter-pays, cost recovery, cost-effectiveness), always on the understanding that “water is not a commercial product like any other but, rather, a heritage which must be protected, defended and treated as such.”[12]

31.        The WFD includes a detailed plan for implementation in the member states, setting out clear deadlines for each of the requirements, adding up to an ambitious overall timetable.

32.        Three main aspects of transboundary management are central to the WFD-approach and can also be regarded as crucial steps for improving transboundary management:

33.        The European Union WFD has a significant contribution to make to the improvement of transboundary management of rivers and lakes in Europe. Especially in cases in which EU member or candidate states are involved, both the overall approach and the detailed requirements of the WFD are an excellent basis for improving the environmental status of the water bodies concerned.

34.        At the same time, for Council of Europe member states where implementing EU legislation is not a formal requirement or will not be in the near future, the WFD is a “reference system” for improving transboundary management through gradual steps towards integrated water resources management.

3.      Water basin management and transfrontier co-operation: case studies

35.        Historically, rivers and lakes have been used to mark the borders between countries.  Accordingly, they have been the source of many conflicts (for example the Rhine between France and Germany, the Rio Grande between the USA and Mexico, the Oder or the Neisse between Germany and Poland).  However, in many cases, the limits of river basins do not coincide with national political borders.  Transboundary water management issues arise in cases where countries share a river’s catchment area, whether the riparian states are located upstream or downstream.  The key question is how to ensure that the shared water resources unite rather than divide the countries concerned.  The problem is made all the more complex in that it involves technical, environmental and political (both internal and external) considerations.

36.        The Balkans region, for example, illustrates at several levels the interdependences created by water resources.  In the case of the Maritza/Evros river (shared by Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey), as the water resources are used primarily for irrigation, management of the basin is not particularly problematic as regards resource distribution.  However, the difficult issue of managing flooding risks (as in 1998) requires joint management/reaction.  Environmental concerns in connection with the Maritza/Evros delta also give rise to sometimes tense negotiations.  The Vardar/Axios river (shared between Greece and “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”) has been at the heart of numerous conflicts between the two countries for decades, and non-integrated and unilateral management (intensive irrigation, plans for the construction of dams without any consultation, a rise in pollution, etc) has led to considerable deterioration of the river.  The greatest challenge in the region is the Mesta/Nestos river shared between Greece and Bulgaria.  After years of disputes over use of the river, in June 1996 the two countries finally reached an agreement[13] on management of the Mesta/Nestos river.

37.        The aim of bringing member states closer in order to build lasting stability and peace in Europe can only be achieved through transboundary co-operation and intercultural communication. The Council of Europe’s work is based on the concept that potential conflicts between the different functions of a territory can be anticipated and reduced through an integrated spatial development strategy. As such, transfrontier co-operation is a cornerstone in the Organisation’s action, in which regional planning has a central role to play.

38.   Economic developments, increasing water scarcity, deteriorating water quality, rapid population growth, unilateral water management and development, and the ensuing increased tension between supply and demand are all too familiar disruptive factors in co-riparian relations.

39.        Accordingly, over the past century policy-makers have been involved in institution-building efforts to mitigate the likelihood of conflict and to resolve existing disputes, progressively to acknowledge the benefits of co-operative water management frameworks and to devise international principles for transboundary basin management. Globally, the international community has drawn up protocols and treaties governing the management and protection of specific international water bodies.  However, this concept of water basin management includes all the tributaries of a waterway and all the groundwater that drains into them and therefore imposes wider objectives encompassing the quality of the environment.  Furthermore, it entails an obligation of result as much as an obligation of conduct.

40.        One of the Council of Europe’s instruments is its Outline Convention on Transfrontier Co-operation between Territorial Communities or Authorities, which sets out to encourage and facilitate the conclusion of cross-border agreements between local and regional authorities within the scope of their respective powers. Such agreements may cover regional development, environmental protection, the improvement of public services, etc.  Moreover, to cater for variations in the legal and constitutional systems in the Council of Europe's member states, the Convention sets out a range of model agreements to enable both local and regional authorities as well as states to place transfrontier co-operation in the context best suited to their needs.

41.        One of the characteristics of water is that it affords the opportunity to develop co-operation between peoples endeavouring to improve water quality and management.  Striving to improve the quality of life was one of the basic processes for building democracy. In central, eastern and south-eastern Europe, as well as in the South Caucasus, water resource management is inevitably linked to the political, economic and social developments that have been taking place in these countries since the 1990s.

42.        In terms of water basin management, several initiatives can be mentioned in order not only to draw attention to the possibilities offered by transboundary water management, but also to try and begin the long road towards integrated water resource management in Europe.

a.                   River basins

The Danube River Basin

43.        To date, only 60% of the EU accession countries have access to piped water supplies, just over 40% of waste liquids are treated and the Danube, its tributaries and delta continue to be the depositary of unacceptable levels of pollution and suffer from a lack of co-ordinated and integrated management. However, the democratisation of the central and east European States and the enlargement of the EU has set in motion a process for rehabilitation of the Danube river.

44.        The Danube river basin is the second largest in Europe and touches on the territory of 18 countries[14], connecting over 80 million people. It can take many decades and huge financing to achieve co-operation and integrated water resource management on a major transboundary course, but the social and ecological situation faced by the Danube-BlackSea region necessitates immediate and ongoing efforts to enact reforms and programmes to protect the region from further deterioration and secure regeneration of the Danube for the future. The experience of the Rhine river basin could serve as a reference for the different organisations striving to regenerate the international Danube basin.

45.        There is a “bottom-up” process, initiated by regional and local authorities years ago, that is currently speeding up the whole process of rehabilitating the Danube river. In 1994, in Sofia, Bulgaria, eleven of the Danube riparian states and the European Union signed the Convention on Co-operation for the Protection and Sustainable Use of the River Danube (Danube River Protection Convention – DRPC), which set up an intergovernmental structure, the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICDRP) to draw up management plans for the whole of the Danube river basin and provide a framework for regional co-operation under the Convention.

46.        As its contribution to the introduction of a comprehensive and integrated approach to the various sectoral policies pursued to ensure the sustainable development of the Danube basin, the Parliamentary Assembly adopted Recommendation 1330 (1997) on the draft European charter of the Danube basin, Resolution 1021 (1994) on the preservation and development of the Danube basin and, subsequently, Recommendation 1480 (2000) on the protection and management of the Danube basin, where the Assembly expressed concern about “the already serious ecological situation of the Danube, combined with the difficulties involved in coping with the consequences of the recent disasters which have struck the river – whether it be the accidental discharges of dangerous substances resulting from bombings during the recent conflict in the former Yugoslavia, or the after-effects of the discharge of cyanide into a tributary of the Danube […] that have shown how useful the adoption of a [ European Water] charter would have been and how its application would have been able to contribute to stability in the region”.  However, the Committee of Ministers stated on two occasions that it was not the Council of Europe’s task to play a part in the search for solutions to problems concerning just one part of Europe, but that it was a task primarily for the countries concerned, and has taken no further action on this proposal.

47.        Furthermore, on an initiative of the Committee on the Environment, Agriculture and Local and Regional Affairs, which had in Paris on 20 February 2003 held a hearing on flooding in Europe, the 13th session of the European Conference of Ministers responsible for Regional Planning of the Member States of the Council of Europe (CEMAT) (Ljubljana, Slovenia, September 2003), adopted a resolution on the prevention of flooding and improving the co-ordination of activities to minimise the risks and consequences of disastrous floods.  In this resolution, the ministers, bearing in mind the objective of the sustainable development of the European continent, undertook to set up an international working party tasked with drawing up a model for cross-border co-operation which could serve as a framework for promoting the sustainable territorial development of each of the basins concerned, in close co-operation with the relevant local, regional and national authorities.

48.        At the end of this 13th session of the CEMAT conference, the Ministers responsible for Regional/Spatial Planning and the heads of delegation of the States concerned – Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, the Slovak Republic and Ukraine – signed, on 16 September 2003, the Initiative on the Sustainable Spatial Development of the Tisza/Tissa River Basin and adopted the Declaration on co-operation concerning the Tisza/Tissa river basin. The Parties agreed to jointly initiate and carry out a process to implement the Guiding Principles for Sustainable Spatial Development of the European Continent in respect of the geographical area of the Tisza/Tissa river basin.  Sharing a vision of integrated transfrontier spatial development and seeking to develop and implement a strategy to achieve that goal, the Parties agreed to focus attention, as part of their co-operation, on the many projects and ongoing activities in the Tisza/Tissa river basin, in order to avoid duplication of effort and competing parallel activities.

49.        At national level, the Water Framework Directive seeks to foster greater practical awareness of shared responsibility with regard to river and lake water management. This concerns two main categories of states in the Danube river basin: EU member states and candidate states. The latter have limited financial resources and, as new-born democracies, have some difficulty in reconciling theory and practice.

50.        The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe considers[15] that, within the complex relationship between the principles of national sovereignty and the transboundary nature of international watercourses, there is not only a high potential for co-operation between member states but also an additional field of co-operation in interaction between local and regional authorities. Clearly, among other factors, the lack of co-ordination in transboundary water management among the regions leads to difficulties in the control of pollution and floods.

51.        The process of devolution within the Danube basin has led to greater responsibilities for local and regional authorities. Simultaneously, the process of internationalisation of the Danube basin (through the Convention on Co-operation for the Protection and Sustainable Use of the Danube Basin, International Conventions such the Convention on access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters, the Aarhus Convention, and the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, especially as Waterfowl Habitats, the Ramsar Convention, and EU enlargement) have led to greater co-operation at inter-state level. The practical links between these two processes have yet to be properly worked out.

The Sava River Initiative

52.        The Sava River Basin is an example of a river basin that became “internationalised” following geopolitical changes in the European landscape. Previously linked exclusively to the national interests of the former Yugoslavia, it now encompasses the territories of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Slovenia and Serbia and Montenegro. The SavaRiver Basin catchment area accounts for more than 60% of the territory of these countries and provides more than 80% of the total water available. The economies of these countries are highly dependent on the use of the waters of the Sava river.

53.        In June 2001, the Stability Pact launched the Sava Initiative to provide the four Sava riparian states with a forum for addressing the problems faced by the Sava River Basin, ie the need for rehabilitation of waterways, ports and other supporting infrastructure to resume commercial traffic, the lack of environmental protection, and institutional mechanisms for addressing transfrontier issues relating to the river.

54.        In Sarajevo on 29 November 2001, four ministers representing the SavaBasin countries signed a Letter of Intent setting as the main objectives for co-operation:

55.        The Sava River Basin Initiative is a regional co-operation process designed to prompt political dialogue and confidence-building measures, promote and enhance the benefits of such dialogue and measures, and link the projects contained in the Action Plan to existing international conventions and standards such as the 1948 Convention concerning the regime of navigation on the Danube, the recommendations of the Danube Commission, international conventions regarding inland navigation, and the resolutions of UN-ECE.

56.        The Sava riparian states have made rapid progress in implementing and developing co-operation. It is clear that these countries are committed to the initiative’s success, as a project by the region for the region, supported as necessary by international partners. This type of sub-regional co-operation has contributed both to economic and political stabilisation in south-eastern Europe. The fact that the initiative and its implementation are truly in the hands of the countries themselves is the best guarantee for execution of the agreement.

57.        The Sava interim commission has organised meetings and taken the necessary measures to complete the legal activities on which its work depended.

58.        The most urgent project is the restoration of navigation to its pre-1990 level. The framework agreement’s second is to establish sustainable water management.

59.        The Agreement and the Action Plan have set the co-operation process in motion.  This has given the countries concerned and the international community a unique opportunity to build a major new regional process for sustainable development.  This process is one of the most successful regional co-operation projects contributing to the stabilisation of south-eastern Europe in both economic and political terms.

60.        The Sava Initiative is the beginning of a co-operation process that could become a model for other international river basins in the region. Clearly, through this process, the Sava Initiative is contributing to the economic and political stability of the region.

b.         Transboundary lakes

Lake Geneva

61.        The example of Franco-Swiss management of the Lake Geneva basin is worth quoting. The International Commission for the Protection of the Waters of Lake Geneva (CIPEL) was founded in 1962 to protect the waters of that lake, the Rhone river and its tributaries. It is composed of elected representatives, scientists and experts from both countries. The CIPEL focuses on three main themes (water as a source of drinking water, fishing and tourism), and comprises an Operational Committee and a Scientific Council as well as various working groups dealing with issues such as domestic, agricultural or industrial pollution, renaturation, dephosphatation and Franco-Swiss collaboration in the event of emergencies.

62.        The International Commission’s main objectives are to co-ordinate water policies and management, draft recommendations to governments and raise public awareness of the importance of water protection.

63.        The International Commission for the Protection of the Waters of Lake Geneva is an example of successful transboundary co-operation, and its efforts have, over a 40-year period, resulted in the rehabilitation of the Lake Geneva basin.

Lake Sevan

64.        At its meeting in Yerevan in June 2002, the Committee on the Environment, Agriculture and Local and Regional Affairs visited LakeSevan and held a hearing dealing with transfrontier co-operation between Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia with regard to the SevanBasin. This gave the Committee a new impetus to look at the question of transboundary lakes and water basins in a wider context and as a basis and opportunity for co-operation between member states at national, regional and local level.

65.        Armenia faces major environmental problems, one of which is the condition of LakeSevan. The independence and associated conflicts following the collapse of the Soviet Union had completely destroyed regional institutions, including those responsible for the environment. Regional conflicts, border closures and the economic, agricultural and energy crisis have led to a significant increase in the use of natural water reserves for irrigation and electricity.

66.        Age-old reserves of water from LakeSevan have made a major contribution to the national economy, as they have been used to produce energy and irrigate land. The lake’s level started falling in 1933, and continued to fall until 1964. However, the use of water to produce hydroelectric power was not stopped until 1978.

67.        Representatives of the three South Caucasus countries took part in a forum on environmental issues in Baku in April 2002, in which the Armenian representatives put forward a proposal for regional co-operation calling upon their Georgian and Azerbaijani counterparts to instigate regional co-operation in the area of water management. The Georgians have accepted the proposal. The region has numerous co-operation projects, but co-ordination among international organisations unfortunately poses a problem. The Azerbaijanis have indicated that any co-operation will be impossible until the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh has been resolved.

68.        The rapporteur finds it a matter of regret that the current economic and political problems stem from the failure to resolve the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh, not to mention other conflicts in the region. Nevertheless, two conditions must be met in order to ensure sustainable use of water resources in the South Caucasus region: these are effective regional co-operation for water resource management and harmonisation of the relevant legislation in the countries of the region, along with monitoring of its enforcement.

69.        The Council of Europe should encourage the setting up of a regional centre to assess and monitor the pollution of transboundary rivers in the South Caucasus. The centre should ideally compile a database and ensure that there is a reliable communication system so that crisis situations can be quickly averted.

The Dojran, Prespa and OhridLakes

70.        The origin of this report was a motion for a resolution on the “Need for European support for protecting and saving Dojran, Prespa and Ohrid lakes”[16]. The Committee on the Environment, Agriculture and Local and Regional Affairs accordingly organised a colloquy[17] on the management of transboundary river and lake basins, held in Ohrid, at which emphasis was laid on the need for an integrated approach to save the three transboundary lakes of Ohrid, Prespa and Dojran.

71.        Suffering from a serious deterioration of their habitats, the three lakes have shrunk and the use of the water is far too extensive. The need for close co-operation between the countries sharing these lakes is a prerequisite for the sustainable management of water resources in the region and to ensure the international community’s support for their sustainable management. Human activity in the catchment areas of the lakes covers fishery, tourism, industry, agriculture, forestry, and intensive urbanisation: all of which means disruptive or polluting consequences for the three lakes. Monitoring of water quality is of the utmost priority. A sustainable monitoring system should be set up using the LakeOhrid model and extended to the Prespa and Dojran lakes.

72.        The Lake Ohrid Conservation Project (LOCP) is the first of its kind implemented in south-eastern Europe and is a successful example of bilateral management of a transboundary resource. Financed by the World Bank’s Global Environment Fund (investment of USD 1.8 million on the Albanian side and USD 2.26 million on the Macedonian side), the LOCP began in 1998 in Albania and in 1999 in “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” and was completed in December 2003. It sought to provide a transfrontier, comprehensive approach to the management of the LakeOhrid watershed, combining restoration, conservation and protection of the lake with sustainable use of its natural resources. The project increased collaboration across the border, fostering good relations between the two countries. The Albanian and Macedonian Ministries of the Environment shared the leading role in this project.

73.        The LOCP represents a strong political process for the management of natural resources in a transboundary dimension. Co-operation on the protection of natural resources (the environment as a vehicle) is viewed as the easiest way to establish political co-operation in transboundary regions, which is a good basis for sustainable development and for the prevention of a number of potential conflicts.

74.        “The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, Albania and Greece have also made progress in co-operating on the preservation of Lake Prespa, an example that is to be followed for the protection of Lake Dojran, which needs joint efforts to save it from an ecological disaster. On 2 February 2000, the Prime Ministers of Albania, Greece, and � the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia � declared the creation of "PrespaPark", consisting of the areas around the PrespaLakes, as the first transboundary protected area in South-Eastern Europe. This declaration was followed by enhanced cooperation among the competent authorities on environmental matters, including joint action “to maintain and protect the unique ecological values of ‘Prespa Park’, prevent and/or reverse the causes of its habitat degradation, explore appropriate management methods for the sustainable use of the Prespa Lakes water, and to spare no efforts so that ’Prespa Park’ become and remain a model of its kind as well as an additional reference to the peaceful collaboration among our countries”.

75.        As a follow-up to the Declaration of Prespa Park, the three states have established an interim “Co-ordination Committee for the PrespaPark” (PPCC) which includes representatives from the environmental authorities, local government and NGOs in each country, as well as the Ramsar Convention Bureau/MedWet as observer. The main responsibility of the Co-ordination Committee is to ensure co-ordination among the three countries and concerned stakeholders to facilitate the establishment of the PrespaPark, the protection of its ecosystems and the sustainable development of the region. The Committee became the formal body responsible for the implementation of the proposed transboundary, trilateral environmental and sustainable development programme benefiting the lake region. In 2002, the three countries agreed to establish a common monitoring system.

76.        In June 2003, the PPCC was granted initial funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) in order to undertake preparatory activities. This will enable the development of a full GEF project for the execution of a multi-annual programme entitled “Integrated Ecosystem Management in the Transboundary Prespa Park Region”, thus giving flesh to the expressed will of the three countries’ governments to preserve the region’s biodiversity and provide for its sustainable development. Moreover, a euro-region Prespa Ohrid between Albania, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” and Greece is being created and need active co-operation between the countries to actual take shape, hopefully within this year. 

77.        The situation of the Dojran lake remains more precarious. The Dojran lake covers 43,1km2 from which 27,3km2 belong to “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” and 15,8km2 to Greece. It is the smallest in “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” with a maximum depth of 10m. The lake is filled with water through underground wells as well as from Golema, Toplec and other rivers and flows through the river Gjolaja that is on the Greek territory.

78.        During the colloquy on management of transboundary river and lake basins held by the Committee on the Environment, Agriculture and Local and Regional Affairs in Ohrid in October 2003, local elected representatives from the area of the Dojran lake and representatives of the Ministry of the environment of “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, expressed their concern about the decrease in the Dojran lake’s level, which suffered from overexploitation. According the Macedonian authorities, the Dojran lake’s survival was endangered due to the enormous quantity of water used for agricultural needs. The lake’s level has dropped from 4 meters during the last decade and is today 2.5 meters below the minimum water level stipulated in the 1956 bilateral agreement with Greece. In 2002, the government of “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” took a very positive unilateral initiative allowing the level of the lake to be raised of about 1 meter thanks to the setting up of underground wells and pipelines supplying water to the lake. This very expensive measure was an important contribution and step toward the saving of the lake.

79.        Moreover, the local authorities and the government of “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” had designed a project for water treatment and collective system, implemented in 1986-87, for catching all waste waters for the three settlements which were located on the lake shore. However, the maintenance of the system was deficient today. Despite the continuous loss of water in the Dojran lake since the 1980’, no joint agreement had been signed between the Greek and Macedonian governments. Several meetings at local and state level had taken place but without concrete results.

80.        The rapporteur made an information visit to Athens (22 March 2004)[18] to meet representatives of the competent ministries of Greece who could not attend the colloquy in Ohrid.

81.        According to representatives of the Ministry on the Environment and Public works and the Ministry of Development of Greece, the Greek government preferred to address the problem of the Dojran through the integrated management of the Vardar/Axios river basin, as they depend on the same hydrographical basin, as required by EU legislation (Water Framework Directive). Scientific research in the framework of the Interreg III Programme was currently underway to try and find a scientific explanation for the drying out of the lake.

82.        The problem of the DojranLake was probably due to changes in the hydrological and hydrogeological conditions in the area, presumably influenced by the 1989-1993 drought period (also including earthquakes that might have geologically influenced the bottom of the lake). The overuse of the underground waters through wells around the lake had also been put forward as an hypothesis to explain the sudden decrease in the lake’s water level, but the Greek authorities stated that no formal link between the wells and the level of the lake had been identified yet. In the end, the Greek authorities believed there was no definitive explanation for the sudden decrease in the level of the lake. It was expected that the results of the scientific research to analyse the whole catchment area would give a solution enabling prevention and inversion of the decrease in the water level of the lake.

83.        Beside, the Greek Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food was not competent on the issue of the DojranLake, since no agricultural use of the lake was carried out on the Greek side. Moreover, according to the Ministry on Environment, there was no monitoring network in the area of Dojran since the lake was not used for agriculture, irrigation or drainage. However, there is an indirect way of monitoring the water level when issuing licences for drilling wells in the area.

84.        The significant decrease in the water level of the lake has serious consequences for the flora and fauna of the lake. There is a clear need for co-operation between Greece and “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, at central and local level, to prevent the lake form drying out definitively. The two countries need to co-operate closely and exchange all information and scientific data gathered on the situation of the lake and set up together a common plan of action to save it, within the management of the water basin of the Vardar/Axios River, and take appropriate urgent measures to save the lake. Financially speaking, to implement such an action plan, the two countries could appeal to Interreg programmes.

85.        Moreover one should encourage initiatives such as the recent creation of Euroregion Belasica (February 2003) in Kilkis, as a unity of three non-profit cross border organisations which are in fact networks of Local Authorities, Entrepreneurial and Social Partners of the common border between Bulgaria, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” and Greece. It is a good example of growing co-operation at local level.  The euro-region represents one of the very few euroregion in the Balkan area and one of the very few euroregions consisting of European – member and non-member countries.

4.         Conclusions and proposals

86.        The rapporteur believes that integrated water resource management deserves strong support because it ties in with some of the Council of Europe’s main objectives for the European continent. Indeed, river basin organisations facilitate good governance, sustainable development, decentralisation and the prevention and resolution of conflicts.

87.        While water managers generally understand and advocate the inherent power of the concept of a watershed as a unit of management, where surface and groundwater, quantity and quality, are all inextricably interlinked, it has been the exception rather than the rule for the institutions which have been set up to manage this resource to heed these precepts.

88.        The transboundary nature of water basins is synonymous with co-operation and institutionalised structures. It requires common data and monitoring to promote global action and attain environmental objectives through formal transboundary management of water resources.

89.        EU enlargement will bring the western and eastern states and regions sharing international water basins closer together, and remove problems caused by differing water policies and priorities across borders as every state is bound by the same requirements and general principles of management - the most important being recognition of the basin as the logical unit of management and planning for water resources. The main instruments in the battle for regaining water quality come from the EU and primarily from its Water Framework Directive which sets out main objectives, instruments, a basin management plan and an action programme with a 15-year timetable. Even the countries which are not candidates for accession to the EU have undertaken to comply with the EU Water Directive as the framework for the management of transboundary water basins.

90.        The case studies presented in this report underline the need for further action in the field of integrated water management in Europe.

91.        The rapporteur is convinced that the member states concerned should recognise the need for regional co-operation on water management and take advantage of the framework for co-operation offered by the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly.

92.        While acknowledging the value of global frameworks and the importance of Conventions seeking to modernise water legislation and management and recognising the concept of management by basin, governments at local, national and international levels need to work on adapting instruments and creating relevant and competent bodies at basin level. All parties dealing with the management and utilisation of water resources, users, public authorities, NGOs and civil society, must participate in the water resource management process.

93.        There is a great need for co-operation in this area among NGOs in south-eastern Europe and in the three South Caucasus countries.

94.        Governments have a major role to play in drawing up political instruments while Parliaments need to draft coherent legislation and promote dialogue among the parties involved. Basin management needs a proper legal framework, efficient mechanisms for enforcement and adequate funding for actions

95.        The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has a crucial role to play in promoting dialogue among Europeans which is a basic requirement for successful co-operation between countries and for stability in Europe.

96.        For example, Albania, Greece, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” and Bulgaria should step up their dialogue to discuss problems associated with the integrated management at regional level of transboundary lakes and rivers.  Furthermore, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia should set up and pursue a similar dialogue within the Caucasus region.

97.        The governments of Albania, Greece and “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” should also draw up a common action plan and jointly take urgent measures to solve the problems of the Ohrid, Prespa and Dojran lakes.

98.        The Council of Europe should, in addition, develop partnerships with other international organisations to ensure co-ordination and co-operation in this area between the Council, the European Union, the OSCE, the World Bank and UN agencies, and with representatives of civil society.

Appendix 1

Programme of the Colloquy on the Management of Transborder River and Lake Basins Ohrid (“the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”)

13-14 October 2003

Monday 13 October

9.00                  Opening of the colloquy

                        Welcoming addresses:

9.45                 Sitting 1Management of waterbasins and transborder co-operation

Chair: Mr Borislav VELIKOV (Bulgaria), Chairman of the ad hoc Sub-Committee on International Year of Fresh Water 2003, Committee on the Environment, Agriculture and Local and Regional Affairs of the PACE

“International basins and the need for shared management”

“Management of transboundary rivers and lakes – the European dimension”

Exchange of views

14.00                Sitting 2: Situation of the Dojran, Prespa and Ohridlakes

The three lakes and action undertaken for their preservation:

“State of the three lakes - general overview”

                        Exchange of views

17.00                Sitting 3: The role of local and regional authorities

Chair: Mr Keith WHITMORE (United Kingdom), Chair of the Committee on Sustainable Development, Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe

“Local Authorities working together in the DanubeRiver Basin”:

                        Exchange of views

Tuesday 14 October

9.30                  Sitting 4: Instruments for international co-operation

Chair: Mr Latchezar TOSHEV(Bulgaria), Rapporteur on the management of transborder water basins and lakes of the PACE

Round table with the participation of :

Study visit to PrespaLake

13.30                Departure for Prespa

14.30                Meeting with Mr Dimko TOSKOVSKI, Mayor of the City of Resen and other representatives of local authorities.

                        Presentation of an international project for the protection of Prespa lake

16.00                Return to Ohrid and conclusion of the colloquy

18.00                Pressconference

Appendix 2

Programme of the Information visit to Athens (22 March 2004) by:

Mr Latchezar TOSHEV
Rapporteur of the Committee on the Environment, Agriculture and Local and Regional Affairs,
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

Mr Peter TORKLER
Rapporteur of the Committee on Sustainable Development,
Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe

09.00 am          Ministries of the Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works

10.30 am          Ministry of Development

12.30 pm          Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food


Reporting committee: Committee on the Environment, Agriculture and Local and Regional Affairs

Reference to committee: Doc. 9366, Reference no. 2743 of 29 May 2002

Draft recommendation adopted by the committee on 1 April 2004

Members of the committee: MM. Martinez Casa� (Chairman), Meale, Gubert, Schmied (Vice-Chairmen), MM. A�ikg�z, Mrs Agudo, MM. Akselsen, Andov, Annemans, Mrs Anttila, MM. Banac, Baura, Bruce, �avusoglu, Sir Sydney Chapman (Alternate: Mr Flynn), Mrs Ciemniak, MM. Coifan, Cosarciuc, Dedja, Deittert, Delattre, Donabauer (Alternate: Grissemann), Duivesteijn, Duka-Z�lyomi, Ekes, Etherington (Alternate: O’Hara), Frunda, Giovanelli, G�tz, Graas, Grabowski, Grachev, Gunnarsson, Mrs Hajiyeva, Ms Herczog, MM. Hladiy, H�gmark, Ilascu, Mrs J�ger, MM. Jakovljev, Jevtic, Mrs Kanelli, MM. Karapetyan, Klympush, Kortenhorst, Kužvart, Libicki, Livaneli, Lobkowicz, Loncle, Maissen (Alternate: Gentil), Masseret, Mauro (Alternate: Nessa), Mrs Mesquita, MM. Meyer (Alternate: Goulet), Milojevic, Mrs Muizniece, Mr Nazar� Pereira, Mrs Ohlsson, MM. Oliverio, Opmann, Popov, Pullicino Orlando, Rattini, Salaridze, Mrs Schicker, MM. Sfyriou, Sizopoulos, Steenblock, Ms St�jberg, Mrs Stoyanova, MM. Timmermans, Tulaev, Txueka Isasti (Alternate: de Puig), Vakilov, Velikov (Alternate: Toshev), Wright, Zhevago,

N.B. The names of those members present at the meeting are printed in italics.

Secretariat to the committee: Mr Sixto, Mr Torcatoriu and Ms Tr�visan


[1] Charter on European Water Resources, adopted on 17 October 2001.

[2] Motion for a Resolution tabled by Mr Azis Pollozhani and others (Doc. 9366, 5 February 2002).

[3]Albania, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Kazakhstan, Hungary, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine and the United Kingdom (as well as the European Community).

[4] “Transboundary impact” means any significant adverse effect on the environment resulting from a change in the conditions of transboundary waters caused by a human activity, the physical origin of which is situated wholly or in part within an area under the jurisdiction of another Party (such effects include effects on human health and safety, flora, fauna, air, climate, etc).

[5] “Transboundary waters” means any surface or ground waters which mark, cross or are located on boundaries between two or more states; wherever transboundary waters flow directly into the sea, they end at a straight line across their respective mouths between points on the low-water line of their banks.

[6] “Hazardous substances” means substances which are toxic, carcinogenic, mutagenic, teratogenic, or bio-accumulative, especially when they are persistent.

[7] “Riparian Parties” means the Parties bordering the same transboundary waters.

[8] Armenia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Moldova, Romania, Sweden, Ukraine and the  United Kingdom.

[9] Armenia, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Norway, Portugal, Moldova, Romania, Sweden, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.

[10] The Rapporteur wishes to thank MM. Eduard INTERWIES and Thomas DWORAK from Ecologic Institute for their contribution to this part of the report [Background paper on Management of transboundary rivers and lakes – The European Dimension (AS/ENA (2003)47)]

[11] Communication of the Commission of 21.2.1996: European Water Policy, COM (96) 59 final Clause 9, Brussels, European Commission.

[12] The European Parliament and the Council (2000): Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning establishing a framework for community action in the field of water policy (2000/60/EC), preamble (1).

[13] A Mesta-Nestos Euroregion was also set up in 1997.  Both Greece and Bulgaria undertook to develop co-operation in line with the provisions of the Greek-Bulgarian friendship agreement.  Both parties, the Mesta border region association and the Nestos border region association, agreed to step up co-operation and identify a number of common factors underpinning the friendship between the respective populations of the regions.

[14] Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Switzerland, Ukraine, Hungary and Serbia and Montenegro. 

[15] See Congress Resolution 163 (2003) on the role of territorial authorities in the management of the river basins, proposing the setting up of a centre for local and regional authorities in the DanubeRiver basin with the aim of fostering co-operation between local and regional authorities for the integrated management of natural resources and sustainable development in the Danube basin. The centre would create a permanent database for local and regional authorities, and establish a network to facilitate co-operation between local and regional authorities and national and international structures responsible for the management of natural resources. The Resolution also proposed the setting up of a European environmental youth platform aimed at developing a culture of respect for the environment and raising awareness on environmental issues among young people from the Danube river basin.

[16] Motion for a Resolution tabled by Mr Azis Pollozhani and others (Doc. 9366, 5 February 2002).

[17] See programme in Appendix 1.

[18] See programme in Appendix 2.