Dniester River Basin subject of international meeting

Dniester River Basin subject of international meeting

1 January 2004

Moldova, Ukraine, and Poland discuss Dniester cooperation

Integrated Management of Natural Resources in the Transboundary Dniester River Basin was the title of an international conference held on 16-17 September in Chisinau, the capital of the Republic of Moldova, organised by "Eco-Tiras" (the International Environmental Association of River Keepers) and the Moldovian Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources. The two-day conference attracted nearly 200 participants from Moldova, Ukraine and Poland, the three countries sharing the Dniester river from the Carpathian mountains to the Black Sea, covering a catchment basin of 70,000 km2 with five million inhabitants.

Eco-Tiras comprises a number of NGOs and local groups in the Dniester river basin that advise and help local and national authorities to manage the river, its water and resources in a sustainable way (cf. www.eco-tiras.org). Scientists, legal experts and locally elected people participated in the conference and addressed legal, institutional and economic instruments to manage the natural resources of the transboundary river and to restore a cleaner environment. Strengthening local international networks, with the help of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UN-ECE), both participating in the conference, can significantly increase transborder confidence, prevent conflicts, and fight poverty in one of the poorest regions of Europe. The Ramsar Convention contributed its guidelines on river basin management and water allocation, with a specific focus on transboundary river basin management. The many presentations in Russian, Moldovian or English can be downloaded from the website or obtained in hard copy from Eco-Tiras.

In conjunction with the international conference, a bilateral group composed of representatives from the Ukrainian and Moldovian national water authorities and Environment Ministries, local authorities, and river basin experts discussed the possibility of adopting a Dniester Treaty for transborder cooperation. Furthermore, European know-how transfer is currently taking place through a twinning project between the Oder river (shared between Germany and Poland) and the Dniester basin, with Dutch funding.

Currently, five Ramsar Sites exist along the Dniester river -- upstream in Ukraine the newly designated Bakotska Bay and the Lower Smotrych River at its confluence with the Dniester; downstream in the transborder zone between Moldova and Ukraine the Lower Dniester designated by Moldova and the Dniester-Turunchuk Crossriver Area and the Northern Part of the Dniester Liman near the Black Sea in Ukraine. With increased cooperation for the natural environment and sustainable development, several additional Ramsar Sites could be added, eventually to form an important chain of natural resource areas.

-- Tobias Salathé
Senior Advisor for Europe

Opening of the conference, from left to right: ambassadors of Poland and Ukraine to Moldova; Constantin Mihailescu, Environment Minister of the Republic of Moldova; Ilya Trombitsky, Eco-Tiras director and organisor of the meeting; and Bo Libert, environment adviser of UN-ECE

A richly decorated buffet, including products dependent upon irrigation with waters from the Dniester and its tributaries, concluded the highly successful conference.