Consultation meeting in Bosnia and Herzegovina highlights the need for Nexus solutions in the Drina river basin

A national consultation meeting in Bosnia and Herzegovina was held online on December 22, to discuss national perspectives and priorities on how to coordinate and advance cross-sectoral actions regarding the Water-Energy-Food-Ecosystems Nexus approach in the Drina river basin.

The meeting brought together 40 key stakeholders and experts, representatives from Institutions and Agencies relevant to water management, energy, rural development, economy, climate change, environment, investment and development. It was convened by GWP-Med and UNECE, in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the framework of the SEE Nexus project (“Promoting the Sustainable Management of Natural Resources in Southeastern Europe, through the use of the Nexus approach”) financed by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA).

Mr. Mirza Hujić, Assistant minister in the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of Bosnia and Herzegovina welcomed participants, highly acknowledging the overall process, continuing from regional UNECE supported nexus projects, and dedication that the implementing parties have invested in the ongoing Nexus work. Mr. Hujić noted: “Our mission should be to identify the main intersectoral issues, their possible solutions, and prepare realistic and feasible plans for their implementation. These actions have to be taken in coordination with all parties, including institutions from Bosnia and Herzegovina and neighboring countries”. Mr. Hujić went on to highlight the importance of understanding interactions between food, energy, water, and ecosystems for Western Balkan countries, facing environmental challenges and working to further strengthen regional cooperation in order to present a common front against climate change.

Participants were introduced to the project’s background, scope and focus, and the opportunities it presents, through presentations given by Ms. Annukka Lipponen, UNECE Environmental Affairs Officer, Mr. Tassos Krommydas, GWP-Med Senior Programme Officer and Mr. Emir Fejzić, KTH Research Engineer. More specifically, the background work for the Drina Nexus Assessment Phase II Concept Note was presented, including issues relating to sustainable energy deployment in the Drina and the integrated model of the Drina River Basin, flow regulation in the Drina, Nexus solutions and investments, priority interventions/projects, and next steps.

Participants discussed the ongoing activities in the basin, stressing among other points the importance of joint policy and comprehensive approaches, of maintaining consistency over time in high level directions. Scenario development, modelling, analysis and exchange of data between the countries were recognized as important for supporting management responses, including to flooding.  The SEE Nexus project’s analysis is set to make a case for more sustainable energy solutions which can help to move towards better flow regulation.

It was noted that while the share of renewable energy sources is currently small, the Drina basin has a great power generation potential, and that countries would benefit from modern power systems and related flexibility, which can allow for a substantial share of variable renewable energy sources. While the role of hydropower and related storage capacity, including for the above-mentioned flexibility, was recognized, environmental damage and control related issues even with small hydropower plants were also highlighted. It was stressed that flow regulation and management practices need to respect environmental considerations and sediment issues are important to take into account.

Key stakeholders made positive remarks regarding the approach, assessment potential, and the transboundary, intersectoral and cooperation opportunities within the SEE Nexus project. The value of a more integrated approach was recognized by a host Ministry representative as a means of fostering synergies, enabling cooperation and intersectoral work. It was noted by several speakers that climate and green financing opportunities may well be used to promote Nexus solutions.

The project team also mentioned further activities to be implemented under the Project, including the preparation of a Strategic document (Nexus Roadmap) on the promotion of the Nexus approach in the Drina basin, the preparation of a Concept Note / Project Document for a cross-sectoral priority intervention to be identified under the Assessment and the Dialogue process, and the implementation of capacity building workshops on integrated modelling and on gender dimensions of sustainable development in the basin.

The SEE Nexus Project (“Promoting the Sustainable Management of Natural Resources in Southeastern Europe, through the use of the Nexus Approach”) is funded by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), the operational unit of Austrian Development Cooperation and is implemented by Global Water Partnership-Mediterranean (GWP-Med) in partnership with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).