National Nexus consultation meeting in Albania brings together stakeholders from all related sectors

An online consultation on the Nexus in Albania held online on 14 December brought together more than 50 stakeholders and experts to discuss how to overcome barriers and coordinate actions to apply the Water-Energy-Food-Ecosystems Nexus approach, achieving cross-sectoral benefits for all. The meeting, which gathered representatives from key institutions from related sectors, was convened by GWP-Med and UNECE in the frame of the SEE Nexus project, which is supported by the Austrian Development Agency.

Economic and social development in Albania crucially depends on the availability and good quality of natural resources, which are, however, under increasing pressure. In order to assist towards an optimised overall security of resources, the Nexus SEE project is promoting an integrated Water-Energy-Food-Ecosystems Nexus approach that aims at reconciling potentially conflicting interests of different sectors as they compete for the same scarce resources, while capturing existing opportunities for synergies and exploring emerging ones.

In the context of the project’s activities in Albania, an online Nexus consultation meeting was convened on 14 December 2020, in order to gather sectoral perspectives on cross-sectoral interlinkages and inform the preparation of the Nexus Assessment. Representatives from the Ministry of Tourism and Environment, the Water Resources Management Agency, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Energy, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the National Environment Agency shared the latest developments in policymaking in the fields of water resources, water supply and sanitation, energy, irrigation and drainage, forestry and biomass, and environmental protection.

Experts and representatives of organisations presented related insights and experiences, feeding into discussions on interlinkages and potential solutions. Participants discussed the practical prioritization of identified interlinkages and mapped out potential steps for enhancing cross-sectoral integration and cooperation at institutional, policy and management levels. Among other points, it was stressed that better cross-sectoral coordination and planning can lead to more effective management in the areas of power production, irrigation and flood risk reduction. Participants considered that the drive to reach climate and energy targets would benefit from increasing the share of non-hydro renewables and upscaling energy efficiency measures, and offered some practical solutions, such as improving water efficiency and recovering energy from wastewater treatment processes. It was noted that such measures would bring mutual benefits for the sectors concerned, not only the environment protection and water management and services, but also the energy sector as the water utilities are a major consumer of energy in Albania.

Insights from the discussion will feed into the Nexus Assessment for Albania, a Technical report under preparation, which will look in detail into the sectoral strategies and policies to identify key interlinkages and assess how they are addressed in the current institutional and policy frameworks.

The meeting also involved a dedicated session on available options to finance Nexus-related interventions. As the project seeks to identify concrete investment options, linking different sectors, the UNECE’s Framework for Nexus solutions and Investments was presented, as well as EIB’s financing instruments and Albania’s Country Programme for the Green Climate Fund (GCF).

A dedicated presentation was also given on Women’s role in the sustainable management of natural resources.

Visual Summaries

A panel of high-level officials opened the meeting, consisting of:

-        Ms. Simone Ungersböck, Head of Tirana Office, Austrian Development Agency

-        Ms. Ornela Çuçi, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Tourism and Environment

-        Ms. Gerta Lubonja, General Director, Water Resources Management Agency

-        Ms. Fioralba Shkodra, Head of the UN Resident Coordinator's Office in Albania

-        Mr. Vangelis Constantianos, Executive Secretary, GWP-Med

The 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).