Lake Peipsi/Chudskoe is situated on the border between Estonia and Russia and is the fourth largest lake and the biggest transboundary lake in Europe. It forms part of the basin of the Gulf of Finland and is connected with the latter via the River Narva (77km long). The lake basin covers an area of 47,800 km² and is shared by Russia, Estonia and Latvia.
There are about 240 inlets around the lake. Lake Peipsi is unique in its natural characteristics – it is shallow, eutrophic and biologically productive, with substantial fish resources and wetlands of international importance (Ramsar sites). About 1 million people live in the catchment.
In 1997, five years after the border between Estonia and Russia was re-established, the riparian governments signed an Agreement on the Protection and Sustainable Use of Transboundary Water Bodies. An intergovernmental commission was established to co-ordinate the implementation of this agreement.
Along with the existing formal framework for co-operation in the Lake Peipsi region, a network of regional and local authorities, universities, NGOs and businesses is emerging, providing a good basis for implementing IWRM principles in this region. Co-operative research and educational projects play an increasingly important role in building a water knowledge base about the lake region as well as in developing the capacity of water and development experts.
- Importance of riparian countries sharing transboundary waters having the political will to implement changes;
- Importance of the development of formal frameworks for co-operation to successfully implement policies relating to water resources;
- Importance of international financial and technical assistance to implement national policies dealing with water resources as well as intergovernmental transboundary water agreements;
- Research and educational projects play an increasingly important role in generating a water knowledge base about the region as well as in developing the capacity of water and development experts in the region;
- Practical issues, such as different working languages, different statistical and data collection norms can hinder co-operative activities and
- Ensuring effective involvement of civil society is difficult. Even though formal mechanisms for developing co-operation with local authorities, NGOs and stakeholders were set up, only a few regional NGOs are actually involved in the work of the Transboundary Water Commission. The capacity of most local NGOs and stakeholder groups is low and external financial support is necessary to improve this situation.
Importance of the case for IWRM
Co-operation over Lake Peipsi demonstrates how integrated water resource management tools can be applied to transboundary waters shared by countries in transition. The case shows how a range of tools need to be used together to incorporate IWRM principles into managing the transboundary waters of the Lake Peipsi Basin.
In addition, it demonstrates that developing co-operative approaches to water management enables the ecologically sustainable use of natural resources while improving the social and economic conditions and quality of life of people in the region.
A network of regional and local authorities, universities, NGOs and businesses isemerging which is a good basis for implementing integrated water resourcemanagement principles in the lake basin.
Photo credit: Priit Tammets