Gender dimensions in the sustainable management of natural resources through a Nexus approach in the Drina River Basin

A workshop “Gender dimensions in the sustainable management of natural resources through a Nexus approach in the Drina River Basin” was held online on June 23 2021. Approximately 80 stakeholders from Ministries, local NGOs, Nexus related institutions and agencies and academia from the Drina River Basin joined the workshop that focused on the interplay between sustainable management of natural resources and gender in the three countries of the region: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Serbia.


The first part of the Workshop, consisted of presentations on key aspects of the gender dimension in the management of natural resources in the Drina River Basin. After a short break, two case studies from the region were analysed that demonstrated the linkages between economy, gender and environment in the Basin and it finished with a panel discussion on the role of women in promoting the Nexus approach in the Drina River Basin.

The present text gives an overall view of the workshop, its main objectives, the speakers’ key points and their presentations and sums up the two case studies’ and the interactive panel’s main take outs. The two case studies and the detailed report of the Workshop, including its agenda and the concept note can be found under "Material" on the right hand side of the page. 


  • to introduce the concepts of Nexus and gender, including the notions of gender equality, women’s empowerment, and gender mainstreaming as key components of sustainable development
  • to provide a platform for women from the region to discuss specific barriers, challenges, and opportunities for the sustainable development of the Drina River Βasin and the Nexus: water management, agriculture-land use, energy, environmental protection, climate change, tourism, and economy
  • to present, share and discuss success stories and case studies from the region to demonstrate how to treat gender issues in the context of sustainable development.
  • and identify the opportunities for networking and coordination; and discuss next steps.


Tassos Krommydas, Senior Programme Officer of GWP-Med, introduced the Nexus approach and the Nexus Assessment process in the Drina River Basin, as part of SEE Nexus project funded by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) and implemented by GWP-Med together with UNECE. GWP-Med is preparing three technical assessments to identify and explore interlinkages among sectors, with concrete suggestions of priority interventions. The activities focus on transboundary basins of the Drin and the Drina rivers. In the Drina Basin GWP-Med is finalizing a quantitative Nexus assessment covering three dimensions: integrated water-energy model, flow regulation in the Basin, and developing a Nexus roadmap for the Basin.

The presentation of Mr. Krommydas: 

Branislava Jovičić, of the Balkan Green Energy News and WISE SEE, presented the results of a survey, undertaken for the purposes of this workshop, that explored the attitudes of women in the Drina River Basin towards the links between gender and the management of the Nexus sectors such as energy, climate change, and natural resources. In all three Drina countries, there are a number of projects under development that may impact the environment and in some cases citizens organized themselves to protect the natural resources such as a river from undesirable development. 

Dr. Liza Debevec, GWP Senior Gender and Social Inclusions Specialist, discussed gender transformative policies, the role of gender mainstreaming, and the overall perspective of GWP on gender, water management and Nexus process. GWP focuses on promoting gender equality and inclusion in water management in the context of the four Dublin principles. According to Dr. Debevec, the definition of a gender transformative approach is when programmes and interventions create opportunities for individuals to actively challenge gender norms, promote position of social and political influence for women in communities and address gender inequalities.  

Fiorela Shalsi, GWP-Med Senior Gender Advisor, presented the gender dimensions of sustainable management of natural resources (SMNR). Men and women have different needs and priorities, and different access and control over the natural resources. When it comes to environmental factors such as biodiversity loss, climate change mitigation, natural disaster management, or energy, women and men are impacted differently. Environmental degradation can sometimes lead to increased gender-based violence. Women’s participation can help accelerate action on the climate and environmental protection fronts. Ms Shalsi stressed that for good policy making having gender segregated data and statistics is critically important.

Case study 1: Gender, economy, environment – the Jadar lithium mine project: an opportunity or a threat for local people

The case study: “Gender, economy, environment – the Jadar lithium mine project: an opportunity or a threat for local people?” explored the proposed lithium mine greenfield project development in the Jadar valley and its possible implications on the local communities in the valley and beyond. The case study inspected the proposed development through a Nexus and gender lenses by inviting interested parties to share their views. The primary questions explored were the impact on livelihood of women, men and children in the immediate area, the need to relocate, the effect on those who opt to stay near it, the impact on agricultural production, the long-term effects of boron toxicity, water management, and the gender structure of created or lost jobs.

A discussion followed whereby participants presented the dangers of lithium production as the proposed mine lies in a populated area whereby extensive agriculture is practised but also possible incident from the mines could lead to contamination of the water supply on the Drina-Sava aquifer. Moreover, they stressed that in the case of the Jadar lithium mine project, the affected population did not receive any compensation for their land and property. It was made clear that the project could produce enormous environmental damages and pointed to the demographic aspects of the project stemming from the relocation of families and the loss of jobs from the degradation of land and economic activities such as tourism, all of which affect to a large extent women. The cases of eco-tourism and organic agriculture were presented as alternative economic activities to the lithium production, that could ensure socio-economic but also environmental benefits for all. 

For an analytical presentation of the case study, see here. 

Case study 2: Gender and waste management: The plastics on the Drina

The case study: “Gender and waste management: “The fridge on the Drina”” explored challenges in waste management in the Drina River Basin, and their impact on the environment and the social fabric of the local communities and the well-being of their inhabitants. The primary questions explored were the role of women in finding a path towards more sustainable solutions in waste management through sharing  good practices in education about waste management and recycling, applications of advanced technologies, connecting communities along the rivers through peer-to-peer learning, networking and social media.

During the discussion, a representative from the Municipality presented improvements made by the local municipality in waste management as well as several steps undertaken to improve the situation.  A presentation followed by UNDP in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sector for Energy and Environment Programme who described the general goals of the Sector, that are to change, through technical assistance, public perceptions of the need to protect the environment and develop sustainable energy, as drivers of sustainable development and also by UNDP Serbia presented a project on the use of artificial intelligence in waste management in the Drina River Basin. 

For the presentations of UNDP Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia see here and here respectively.  

For an analytical presentation of the case study, see here


An interactive panel on the role of women in promoting the Nexus approach in the Drina River Basin followed. All participants conceded that reconciling economic development with environmental sustainability can be very challenging. On the issue of gender equality and resources management in the Drina River Basin, participants stressed that the participation of women in decision making political processes is still inadequate, gave examples of female activism such as the group “Zene Kruscice” (a citizen action group that successfully lobbied against the building of small- scale hydro power plants), argued that women should be more actively involved in political processes and decision-making while also highlighting the fact that members of EC bodies dealing with environmental protection and assessment are women. This is very important for the transboundary context of EC work, e.g., in river management and hydro power projects, such as the mentioned Buk Bijela project under development.


  1. The environment is under threat by uncontrolled investment projects and inappropriate waste management, it was agreed by attendees of diverse backgrounds (the political sphere, scientists, activists, and other professionals).
  2. An increasing number of women from different spheres are becoming active in efforts to protect the environment. They possess the enthusiasm and energy to combine their strengths to create models for sustainable development with a particular focus on gender issues and sustainable economic development.

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).