In June 2017, Ukraine ratified the Treaty between the Government of the Republic of Moldova and the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine on Cooperation in the Field of Protection and Sustainable Development of the Dniester River Basin so that the Treaty can enter into force. The ratification law was passed by the Ukrainian Parliament on 7 June 2017 and signed by the President of Ukraine on 26 June 2017. The Republic of Moldova ratified the Treaty in January 2013.
This represents an important step for the implementation of the obligations of both countries under UNECE’s Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention). It also supports the implementation of target 6.5 of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 on integrated water resource management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation.
The agreement is set to further advance cooperation in response to the complex environmental and economic challenges linked to the management of one of the largest transboundary rivers in Eastern Europe. The 1,362-kilometre-long Dniester River starts in the Carpathian Mountains in Ukraine, flows through the Republic of Moldova and then re-enters Ukraine where it discharges into the Black Sea.
With a population of approximately 7 million people, the Dniester River basin is an essential source of water for industry, agriculture, energy and population centres in both countries, as well as beyond the limits of the basin itself. The Dniester River is expected to be significantly affected by climate change leading to warmer and wetter winters and hot, dry summers, including floods and droughts.
The Treaty identifies principles and provides a framework for cooperation on water pollution prevention and control, water flow regulation, conservation of biodiversity and protection of the Black Sea environment, as well as contributing to the sustainable development of the Dniester River Basin. It also addresses the monitoring of data exchange, public participation and cooperation in emergency situations. The Treaty significantly broadens the existing cooperation arrangements to cover the entire river basin and all sectors relevant to the management and protection of the shared waters. The treaty was signed in Rome on 29 November 2012 (pictured left) by the Ministers of Environment of both countries during the sixth Meeting of the Parties to the UNECE Water Convention.
The enhanced cooperation of the two countries, including through the Treaty, has been supported by the Environment and Security Initiative (ENVSEC) through a series of projects jointly managed by UNECE and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), most recently in 2013-2017 through the Dniester component of the project “Climate Change and Security in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus” supported by the EU Instrument for Stability and the Austrian Development Agency. The development of the Treaty was the result of the step-by-step development of cooperation since 2004 involving a broad range of stakeholders from both countries.
The Treaty’s entry into force will lead to the establishment of a Commission for the joint management of the Dniester River basin. A project funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) implemented by OSCE in cooperation with UNECE starting in autumn 2017 will support the Commission and other opportunities for cooperation in the basin.
The Treaty was further highlighted in the context of the Workshop on recent progress on Transboundary water cooperation: from getting cooperation started to its long-term sustainability, held on 4 July 2017, and the twelfth meeting of the Working Group on Integrated Water Resources Management under the Water Convention, held on 5-6 July 2017, which featured a celebration in honour of the Treaty’s ratification (pictured above).Note to Editors:
The UNECE Water Convention is an important legal framework for sustainable management of transboundary surface waters and ground waters. Currently, 40 countries (including the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine) and the European Union are Parties to the Convention.
The Dniester-I (2004–2006), Dniester-II (2006–2007) and Dniester-III (2009–2011) projects have supported the development of transboundary cooperation on the Dniester River Basin, including the involvement of institutions in the Transdniestria region of the Republic of Moldova. The projects assisted the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine in the development of a diagnostic study of the transboundary issues in the basin, in the establishment of a joint Action Programme, and the development and negotiations of the Dniester Treaty.
In addition to the Treaty, the achievements of the Dniester projects include improved cooperation and coordination between health authorities in the region responsible for the quality of drinking water; establishment of transboundary cooperation on biodiversity including the management of fish stocks; improved sharing and management of information on the basin; and increased awareness among stakeholders and the public about the value of the water resources in the Dniester Basin and the threats they face. A project implemented in 2010-2014 focused on reducing vulnerability to floods and climate change. The Dniester component of the last project “Climate Change and Security in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Southern Caucasus” (2013-2017) resulted in a Strategic Framework for Adaptation to Climate Change in the Dniester River Basin - one of the first transboundary basin climate change adaptation strategies in the world. The Dniester projects were jointly managed by the OSCE and UNECE, as well as the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in the early stages, as part of the ENVSEC, with financial support from the Governments of Finland, Sweden, Austria, and the European Commission for the most recent project.
ENVSEC (www.envsec.org) was established in 2003 and includes OSCE, the Regional Environmental Centre for Central and Eastern Europe, the United Nations Development Programme, UNECE and UNEP. ENVSEC works to assess and address environmental problems, which threaten or are perceived to threaten security, societal stability and peace, human health and/or sustainable livelihoods within and across national borders in conflict prone regions.