GEF Drin Project

Coordinated action at the Drin Basin level was absent until the development of the Shared Vision for the sustainable management of the Drin Basin and the signing of a related Memorandum of Understanding (Tirana, 25 November 2011) by the Ministers of the water and environment management competent ministries of the Drin Riparians i.e. Albania, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Greece, Kosovo* and Montenegro. This was the outcome of the Drin Dialogue supported by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency and coordinated by UNECE and Global Water Partnership Mediterranean (GWP-Med).

The ultimate goal of the work in the Drin Basin was to reach a point where the scale of management lifted from single water bodies to the hydrological interconnected system of the Drin Basin, eventually leading from the sharing of waters among Riparians and conflicting uses, to the sharing of benefits among stakeholders in an area that is physically, culturally and historically interconnected.

The main objective of the Drin MoU was the attainment of the Shared Vision: “Promote joint action for the coordinated integrated management of the shared water resources in the Drin Basin, as a means to safeguard and restore, to the extent possible, the ecosystems and the services they provide, and to promote sustainable development across the Drin Basin”.

The Drin MoU provided the political framework for and defined the context of cooperation among the Drin Riparians.

The Drin MoU identified short-, medium- and long-term actions to address problems identified as affecting sustainable development in the entire Drin Basin and in one or more of its sub-basins. The preparation of an Integrated Drin Basin Management Plan wass the long-term objective. To achieve that, a process called the Drin Coordinated Action was put in place, succeeding the Drin Dialogue.

The Drin Coordinated Action

While the process is on-going, a number of activities were implemented under the Drin Coordinated Action for the implementation of the Drin MoU.

Following the provisions of the MoU an institutional structure was established in 2012. It includes:

  • The Meeting of the Parties.
  • The Drin Core Group (DCG). This body is given the mandate to coordinate actions for the implementation of the MoU.
  • Three Expert Working Groups (EWG) to assist the DCG in its work:

- Water Framework Directive implementation EWG.

- Monitoring and Information exchange EWG.

- Biodiversity and Ecosystem EWG.

The DCG Secretariat provides technical and administrative support to the DCG; Global Water Partnership – Mediterranean (GWP-Med) serves by appointment of the Parties through the MoU as the Secretariat.

The Drin Action Plan[1] (DAP) was prepared to facilitate implementation of the Drin MoU and operationalize the Drin Coordinated Action. This is considered as an ‘evolving document’ and was subject to updates and amendments in accordance with the decisions of the Meeting of the Parties to the Drin MoU and the DCG. The DCG and its Secretariat guides the implementation of the DAP. The DAP was implemented using resources made available by various donors active in the basin. 

The GEF Drin Project

The Global Environment Facility (GEF)[2] supported Full Size Project “Enabling transboundary cooperation and integrated water resources management in the extended Drin River Basin” [3] was aligned in content, aims and objectives with the DAP and the activities under the Drin Coordinated Action.

The objective of the project was to promote joint management of the shared water resources of the transboundary Drin River Basin, including coordination mechanisms among the various sub-basin joint commissions and committees. Albania, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Montenegro were the Project beneficiaries.

The same goal was fostered by the GEF supported Medium Size Project “Enabling transboundary cooperation and integrated water resources management in the White Drin and the extended Drin Basin”. Kosovo is the beneficiary of that Project.

The duration of the two Projects was four years.

The Projects (from herewith forward referred to as the GEF Drin Project) shared the same set of activities constituting the means to achieve the goal mentioned above, through: (i) building consensus among countries on key transboundary concerns and drivers of change, including climate variability and change, reached through joint fact finding; (ii) facilitating the agreement on a shared vision and on a program of priority actions deemed necessary to achieve the vision; (iii) strengthening technical and institutional capacities.

Greece was not eligible for financing, and used its own resources for financing activities in its part of the “extended” Drin Basin i.e. the Prespa sub-basin.

The GEF Drin Project assisted in the operationalization of the institutional structure of the Drin Coordinated Action, rendering it capable of undertaking its coordinative and executive role. It also further enhanced scientific knowledge in the basin to assist the Riparians to make informed decisions for selecting priority transboundary issues to be addressed through related management options. A set of agreed measures was developed and formed a Strategic Action Plan. The systematic involvement of stakeholders, including civil society was enhanced.

The Project was implemented by UNDP and executed by the Global Water Partnership (GWP) through GWP-Mediterranean (GWP-Med) in cooperation with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE); GWP-Med was responsible for the realization of the Project. The Drin Core Group was the Steering Committee (SC) of the Project.

It was managed by a Project Coordination Unit (PCU), based in Tirana, Albania; staff were also stationed in Podgorica, Montenegro; Ohrid, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia; Pristina, Kosovo; and Athens, Greece.

[1] Approved by the 6th DCG meeting (Ohrid, 30 May 2012) and endorsed by the 1st Meeting of the Parties (Ministerial meeting in Tirana, 28 May 2013). The project was structured around six actions:

1. Enhancement of coordination mechanisms among the parties.

2. Enhancement of the knowledge basis about the Drin Basin.

3. Improvement of information exchange through the establishment of a system for regular exchange of relevant information among the competent authorities of each party.

4. Enhancement of cooperation in the field of flood risk preparedness, management and mutual support.

5. Institutional strengthening in the field of integrated water resources management.

6. Promotion of public participation and stakeholders’ engagement.


[3] The project proposal, endorsed by the Drin Core Group, was approved by the GEF and endorsed by the GEF CEO on 17 October 2014. The GEF Drin project was structured around five components:

- Component 1: Consolidating a common knowledge base

- Component 2: Building the foundation for multi-country cooperation

- Component 3: Institutional strengthening for Integrated River Basin Management (IRBM)

- Component 4: Demonstration of technologies and practices for IWRM and ecosystem management

- Component 5: Stakeholder Involvement, Gender Mainstreaming and Communication Strategies