Nexus consultation meeting in Serbia highlights the need for cross sectoral cooperation in the Drina river basin

A Nexus national consultation meeting in Serbia was held online on February 17th. The meeting brought together representatives and experts from Ministries, Institutions and Agencies from the sectors of energy, environment, agriculture and water as well as representatives of civil society, to discuss national perspectives and priorities on how to coordinate and advance solutions and investments regarding the Water-Energy-Food-Ecosystems Nexus approach in the Drina river basin.

It was convened by GWP-Med and UNECE, in cooperation with the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the Ministry of Mining and Energy, and the Republic Water Directorate, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management, of Serbia in the framework of the SEE Nexus project financed by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA).

Representatives from the three Ministries steering the Nexus assessment in the basin made welcoming remarks and acknowledged the need for cross sectoral cooperation, also across the riparian countries. Ms. Jovanka Atanacković, State Secretary - Ministry of Mining and Energy announced that the new Law on renewable energy will be discussed in the Parliament, related regulatory reforms, and stated the need to work towards mutual harmonization and strengthening of transboundary regional cooperation. Mr. Ivan Karić, State Secretary Ministry of Environmental Protection mentioned that their efforts will focus on the protection of the Drina river basin’s environmental capital and recalled the Law on climate change coming to parliamentary discussion. Mr. Dušan Dobričić from the Water Directorate of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management mentioned the importance of cooperation for the basin and thanked the organizers for fostering inter-riparian and intersectoral cooperation.  

Mr. Tassos Krommydas, GWP-Med Senior Programme presented an overview of the Nexus project and explained the goals and activities that are being developed under Phase II of the Nexus assessment, leading towards the drafting of a Road Map for a political commitment to advance cooperation with the Nexus approach in the Drina basin. Ms. Annukka Lipponen UNECE’s Environmental Affairs Officer, presented the concept for the assessment and its component on flow regulation, and stressed how the project activities can attract investments in integrated projects with multiple benefits, for water management and beyond, for all Riparians. Mr. Emir Fejic from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology presented the water-energy scenarios that are being developed and the methodological approach applied to modelling them.

The meeting continued with participants sharing experiences and providing input from other initiatives and projects that have been implemented in the area. The importance of environmental protection, establishing real-time monitoring systems on environmental flow, the availability of water and the importance of coordinated flow regulation, bilateral and multi-country agreements, climate change adaptation, as well as trade-offs and cooperation needs across sectors related to developing the Drina river basin’s high potential for electricity generation were also some of the key issues that were considered and discussed.  

The project team referred to the ongoing process of identifying and eventually prioritising cross-sectoral solutions and investments, also exploring available financing sources and mechanisms.

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).