Although the region as a whole is well endowed in terms of water resources related to the population (more than 21 000 m3/inhabitant/year), their distribution varies from from 200 – 30,000 m3/year/inhabitant.
Although an improvement of water quality has been observed over the past decade, problems persist. Discharges of non-treated or insufficiently treated wastewater, municipal and industrial, still remains a major pressure factor.
Applying integrated approaches to water management is a key challenge, and the rationale for setting up the 12 Country Water Partnerships that form GWP Central and Eastern Europe.
European water polices
GWP Central and Eastern Europe works in the context of European water polices, in particular the EU Neighbourhood Polices and the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD).
GWP CEE wants to be an active partner to regional initiatives such as the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the International Water Assessment Centre (IWAC) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), as well as with regional NGOs such as the Coalition for a Clean Baltic, the European Water Partnership and Women in Europe for a Common Future.
Country Water Partnerships actively support the development of national polices by convening IWRM multi-stakeholder dialogues. These create a better understanding of IWRM in the context of the EU WFD implementation. Dialogues cover water supply and sanitation, an issue that cuts across all water sectors, environment and rural development, and the needs of the poor and small settlements. Promoting water as a part of national development will be a particular challenge in implementing the Danube Strategy.
Floods, drought and transboundary issues
GWP Central and Eastern Europe cooperates with the World Meteorological Organisation on flood and drought issues in the context of adapting to climate change. The effects of drought are due both to the physical nature of the hazard, and to society’s ability to manage the associated risks. Droughts have often been dealt with in a reactive manner rather than by applying a pre-emptive management approach that allows the effective use of all available information. GWP CEE wants to initiate and support countries in a development of drought early warning, consisting of monitoring and prediction and national drought combating policies.
Transboundary dialogues on water quality, hazardous substances and hydro-morphological impacts are facilitated by GWP Central and Eastern Europe in cooperation with the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR), as well as the Elbe, Oder, Sava and Tisza Commissions. In the case of Elbe, Oder and Tisza, cooperation is covered mainly by respective Country Water Partnerships (Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary). GWP Central and Eastern Europe has an observer status to ICPDR, Helsinki Commission and the International Sava River Basin Commission.
Knowledge sharing and capacity building
Communication, including knowledge sharing and capacity building, is done through publications and web-based activities such as the IWRM ToolBox. In order to secure financial sustainability, fund-raising activities target EU programmes, national development aid program schemes and international river basin commissions.
For the first time in 2011, GWP Central and Eastern Europe organized Danube Art Master competition in 14 countries of the Danube River Basin - Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Germany, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine. Danube Art Master 2011, held in frame of Danube Day (29 June) and supported by ICPDR, was opened to children aged 12-16 to create three dimensional artworks from material found near water.
In addition, national winners were invited for attractive three day winner’s trip to Budapest organized by GWP Hungary, GWP Central and Eastern Europe and ICPDR on 23-25 September 2011. Best artworks were awarded at a ceremony followed by a visit to Danube Museum, trips to Visegrad and Budapest ZOO.
Working with a youth is important element of CWPs; in addition to its education role, activities of CWP Slovenia (Water Detective campaigns), CWP Romania (Children Encyclopedia Fauna from Biosphere Danube Delta) and CWP Hungary (Danube Box for teachers) are traditionally popular among young people and their teachers and parents.