The UNESCO‐affiliated Center for Water for Sustainable Development and Adaptation to Climate Change (WSDAC) and Jaroslav Černi Institute for the Development of Water Resources (JCI) organized a special session on the implementation of integrated water resources management in transition countries at the 7th World Water Forum held in April 2015 in Daegu, South Korea.
The aim of the session was to contribute to a further and deeper global discussion on water governance issues of transition countries. The process was initiated in 2014 in Belgrade, at the Conference on Water Management in Transition Countries, and was a result of an outcome of that conference, the so‐called Belgrade Statement of Water Sector Sustainability, which stresses the need to strengthen the ability of developing and transition countries to upgrade their water governance through financial, administrative and technical capacity building.
The session attracted a wide audience because of both its specific and highly topical subject matter, and outstanding presentations made by world‐renowned water management experts who shared their vast experience with the attendees:
- Professor Dr. Milan Dimkić (JCI and WSDAC): Water Management in Transition Countries;
- Professor Soontak Lee (IHES): The Significance of Water Management in Transition Countries for the Achievement of Global Water Management Goals
- Ivan Zavadsky (ICPDR): Experiences in Transition Countries in the Danube River Basin;
- Professor Prvoslav Marjanović (JCI and WSDAC): Challenges for Effective Water Governance in Transition Countries.
Apart from the above‐mentioned experts, Dr. Alireza Salamat (Regional Centre on Urban Water Management, RCUWM, headquartered in Teheran, Iran) and Dr. Hakan Tropp (Stockholm International Water Institute – SIWI) took part in the ensuing panel discussion.
At the end of the session, the key viewpoints, or the main principles of the Belgrade Declaration, were summarized in the following conclusions:
- Developing and transition countries often have poor water resources management (economy, expertise, capacity, etc.).
- The needs of these countries and the goals placed before them (Millennium Development Goals and even more stringent regional goals), compounded by climate change impact, impose additional challenges on already fragile water governance.
- To achieve water management objectives, water governance in developing and transition countries needs to be substantially strengthened. Water governance strengthening comprises upgrading of a country’s ability to further develop its financial, technical and
administrative capacities, which involves:
- Institutional strengthening and greater effectiveness of water governance;
- Effective and straightforward legislation;
- Dedicated water fund and adequate and independent financial accumulation;
- Dynamic and productive cooperation with all scientific and technical institutions;
- Suitable public private partnerships;
- Appropriate balance between centralized and decentralized water governance approaches; and
- Raising the level of science and strengthening of professional skills and the ability of developing and transition countries to improve skills on their own.
The organizers of the session emphasized that country‐specific solutions are needed, which must address financial, scientific, technical and organizational capacities in the field of water, and proposed a series of international conferences, workshops and other meetings aimed at developing global and local solutions to be discussed further and adopted at the 8th World Water Forum. They also called for a collaborative international project to examine specific problems of water governance in transition countries.
The final session of Theme 3.4 titled “SMART Implementation of IWRM”, was chaired by Prof. dr Milan Dimkić (WSDAC), Juichi Kamimura (NARBO), Torkil Jønch Clausen (GWP) and Prof. dr Soontak Lee (Yeungnam University, South Korea). The organizers emphasized that countries are in need of specific solutions, which must take into account relevant financial, scientific, technical and organizational capacities in the water sector, and have suggested that a
series of international conferences, workshops and specialist meetings should be held to formulate solutions on the global and local level, which will be addressed at the 8th World Water Forum. Also, a joint international project was proposed to address specific water management issues in transition countries.