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World Water Day: In Armenia, students conduct water and air monitoring

Date: 11/04/2023
Country: Armenia
Component: Water resources, Environmental Data

On March 22, the international community celebrated World Water Day. Each year, a specific theme highlights one particular issue linked to the management and use of water resources ; this year’s theme was "Be the change", which underlined the fact that one must take action at their own level to change the way they use and consume water resources.

In order to achieve such a goal, Armenian NGO "Environment and Health" organised a national public monitoring campaign under the "EU4Environment - Water Resources and Environmental Data" programme, with the financial assistance of the European Union.

The campaign gathered 150 schoolchildren, students, and active young people coming from different regions of Armenia; with the support of appropriate guide-videos, the participants sampled and tested water from nearby rivers and lakes, and from snow and rainwater, they assessed dust contents in the air. The young students’ actions have been relayed by the Armenian Ministry of Nature Protection, and broadcasted on the Armenian public television (ARMTV Channel).

The results of their actions were compiled by Environment and Health and used to create a story map, which can be found here.

A video documenting the monitoring campaign can also be found here.

Armenia adopts a cross-sectoral approach to tackling its water management challenges at the 20th meeting of the National Policy Dialogue on water

Country: Armenia
Component: Water resources

Sustainable management of precious water resources will play a key role in the continued socio-economic development of Armenia. Around 80% of the country’s crops are irrigated, with agriculture accounting for 12% of GDP, while hydropower accounts for 40% of total electricity production. Water is a truly cross-sectoral issue touching all areas of the economy and the lives of citizens. On 3-4 October 2022, Armenia hosted the 20th meeting of the National Policy Dialogue on Water. This dialogue marks an important milestone, with the recent revision of the Water Code of Armenia, which brought the country closer to the EU water legislative framework. To prepare for this meeting, by official Decree No 304-L of September 6, 2022 of the Minister of Environment, Armenia has reformed its cross-sector Steering Committee on National Policy Dialogue on Water to engage a broad representation from national and local government, academia and the NGO community to drive the water policy reform.

Chaired by the Ministry of Environment and organised within the frame of the new EU4Environment Water Resources and Environmental Data Programme, the meeting aims to build upon the momentum created by the updated Water Code, identify priorities for water management and the environment, assess progress with recent policy reforms in the water sector and to brief steering committee members on the latest developments with ongoing national and international water projects in Armenia. 

Ms Gayane Gabrielyan, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Environment of the Republic of Armenia said: “Armenia is the regional leader in democracy index, as confirmed by the recently published 2021 democracy index. In the area of water sector management, Armenia also applies democratic governance approaches. The inter-sectoral Steering Committee of the National Policy Dialogue on water issues, which includes national and local-level representatives of the state agencies, scientific-educational institutions and non-governmental organisations, supports the implementation of the Government of Armenia programs in the water sector, as well as international obligations undertaken by the country. The National Policy Dialogue is an important platform for coordinating, supplementing and ensuring result-oriented outcomes of the international organisations and initiatives in the water sector, with an overall aim to promote sustainable management of water resources, and their rational use within the climate change context.” 

Mr Frank Hess, Head of Cooperation Section of the EU Delegation to Armenia said that “The EU is delighted to partner with Armenia in its water policy reform journey. Water is key to any national economy and working in partnership is crucial to gain support for reforms. Armenia’s commitment to the National Policy Dialogue provides a sustainable platform for change” 

The meeting was attended by Armenia’s Steering Committee for the National Policy Dialogue on Water. It was chaired by the Deputy Minister Gayane Gabrielyan and the cross-sectoral Committee consisted of 35 members from the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Territorial Administration and Infrastructures, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Economy, Public Services Regulatory Commission, Regional Administrations and Universities, Institutes and NGOs. Representatives of the EU Delegation to Armenia and international projects and donors working in the Armenian water sector were also present.

Speaking on behalf of the Programme’s implementing partners, Mr Alexander Zinke, Environment Agency Austria, values the Government’s commitment to tackle existing water management and environmental challenges: “Like other countries of the European Union’s Eastern Partnership, Armenia faces challenges with water pollution and exploitation of water resources that are need of better protection. This EU programme continues strengthening the country’s capacities in river basin planning, monitoring and sustainable water use, as well as in collecting and publishing further data on land use, waste and air pollution. Overall, we are really pleased with progress being made.”




Armenia kicks off the planning process for the Northern river basin

Country: Armenia
Component: Water resources

On February 16, 2023, Armenia kicked off the development of a River Basin Management Plan (RBMP) for the Northern River Basin District (RBD) in Dzoraget (Lori marz).

The aim of the meeting was to present the approach and timeline for the development of RBMP for the Northern RBD of Armenia, introduce the team of Armenian experts involved in the development, and initiate dialogue with the local stakeholders in order to insure a participative development of the plan.

The meeting was attended by 35 representatives of the beneficiary organisations, regional administrations, local self-governance authorities, local subcontractor, water sector experts, as well as by the EU Delegation to Armenia and the “EU4Environment Water and Data” project.

Opening remarks were made by Lilit Abrhamyan, Head of Water Policy Department of the Ministry of Environment of Armenia and Andrea Baggioli, Programme Managemer of the Cooperation Section of the EU Delegation to Armenia.

The Armenian team leader for the development of the RBMP chapters, the Director of the Institute of Chemical Physics of the National Academy of Science of Armenia, presented the timeline and methodology of the RBMP development. The work to develop the RBMP chapters started in December 2022, the RBMP is expected to be finalised by June 2024.

Each Armenian expert responsible for a specific part of the RBMP presented the approach and methodologies to follow: hydrological analysis and water balance calculation, hydrogeological analysis and groundwater resources monitoring, assessment of vulnerability of water resources within the climate change context, identification of significant pressures and their impacts, and water quality aspects. Participants to the workshop gave feedbacks on the proposed approaches.

Approach for communication and stakeholder engagement in the basin was also presented by the expert of the local contractor, and the role of corresponding Basin Management Organization was specifically highlighted in that context. Two plenary consultation meetings (multi stakeholder meetings) are foreseen at different development stages of the plan.

The last session of the workshop was dedicated to the identification of data and information, to on-going projects and initiatives in the basin, as well as to a preliminary identification of the main issues in the basin, according to local stakeholders. The identified issues ranged from site-specific pressures to general problem concerning the whole Northern river basin, as well as to institutional and global issues, requiring intervention at national level.

Many of the workshop participants stressed the importance of continuing such dialogues and the Armenian experts team solicited the feedbacks from local stakeholders in the process of RBMP development.

New Water Code Adopted: legal reforms in Armenia progress towards preservation of water resources

Country: Armenia
Component: Water resources

Armenia takes a step further with the harmonisation of its fundamental legislative documents with the EU water acquis

On 7 July, Armenia adopted a package of amendments to its Water Code, which has been developed with the support of the European Union. The Water Code aims to ensure the sustainable management of water resources and its preservation for future Armenian generations*. The amended Water Code now takes greater account of the natural water cycle and of the limits of water as a finite resource.  

A shift in the management of water resources: taking into account water’s cross-sectorial nature

The amended Water Code clarifies the principle of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), a concept that calls for better cooperation between all water-user sectors - mainly the agricultural, water supply, energy, industrial, and health sectors - to preserve water resources. To this end, the amendments incorporate the main principles of the European Union Water Framework Directive, such as the necessity to manage water resources at the scale of the river basin and in close cooperation with all water users.

A shift in the perception of rivers, lakes and aquifers:  bringing knowledge up to another level

By adopting EU terminologies such as “water bodies”, “water status” or “biological monitoring”, the amended Water Code lays the ground for a more holistic and comprehensive view of how rivers, lakes and aquatic ecosystems of Armenia work. This will subsequently improve the quality of knowledge, making it more relevant for decision-makers, water users and every Armenian citizen.

EU continuous support towards Armenia’s green transformation: there is no green without blue

The EU4Environment – Water and Data programme welcomes this adoption that makes Armenia even closer to the EU water acquis. The programme is supporting Armenia for the next two years with capacity building and experience sharing between the EU partner country and a consortium consisting of two EU Member States (Austria and France) and two international organisations (UNECE and OECD). The programme has two main objectives: support a more sustainable use of water resources and improve the use of sound environmental data and their availability for policy-makers and citizens.

*Three legislative documents provide the foundation for the management of water resources in Armenia: the Water Code, the National Water Policy and National Water Programme. The government approved the package of amendments for all three legislative documents earlier in June, and the Parliament adopted the amendments package in the second and final reading on July 7, 2022. The amendments were prepared pursuant to the requirements of the Road Map of Implementation of the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement with the European Union in the area of water quality and resources management.

Armenia: promotion of Nature Based Solutions and their positive applications for the water sector

Country: Armenia
Component: Water resources

A workshop on Nature-Based Solutions and potential applications for the water sector in Armenia took place on Tuesday 4th October, in the aftermath of the 20th meeting of the National Policy Dialogue on water. In the afternoon, participants visited the Khor Virap Ramsar site to see how wetlands strengthen ecosystem services and what could be the benefits for water users.

Armenia: online kick-off for EU4Environment – Water Resources and Environmental Data

Country: Armenia
Component: Water resources, Environmental Data

The official launching of the EU4Environment – Water Resources and Environmental Data  programme in Armenia was held in an online format on 28 February 2022. The programme will further support the country in the preservation of its natural resources in line with the European Green Deal and a post-COVID-19 green recovery. It aims to improve the health and wellbeing of Armenian citizens, as well as the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The programme is part of the Team Europe Initiative on Water and Zero Pollution, which aims at moving towards a toxic-free environment for all citizens.

EU4Environment – Water Resources and Environmental Data reinforces the on-going EU4Environment Action in Armenia. It aims i) to support existing and new environmental policies and their implementation at local levels through decentralized management of water resources, and ii) to improve access to reliable data and information on water resources, but also on air quality, land use and waste to decision-makers and Armenian citizens. To this end, the new programme builds upon the success of previous projects like the European WaterInitiative Plus (EUWI+) and the Shared Environmental Information System Phase II (ENIS SEIS II East).

River Basin Management Plans for the Lake Sevan and Hrazdan River Basins were developed under EU WaterInitiaitve + and are now ready for adoption (respectively 4,700 and 4,000km2, 200,000 and 1,6 Million inhabitants). Under this project, knowledge of water resources was reinforced through relocation and refurbishment of theNational Laboratory with new high-end analytical equipment, upgrade of monitoring sites for rivers and groundwater, and more than 140 sites were covered by field surveys. Additional work on water data integration, laws and regulations enforcement and financing mechanisms were also undertaken.

The implementation of principles of the Shared Environmental Information System (SEIS) to strengthen the production of environmental data and indicators in biodiversity, water, land, waste and air in Armenia was supported by the ENI SEIS II East project. The project developed Armenia’s institutional capacity in environmental assessment and accounting, and as an example introduced new tools for improving the accessibility to air quality monitoring data based on the EU Air Quality Directives and the Air Quality Index published by the European Environment Agency. As a result, Armenian organizations now publish weekly and monthly air pollution distribution graphs, quarterly and annual reports about air quality monitoring and interactive maps on current air quality levels.

The European Commission and the implementing partners look forward to continuing their engagement with Armenia under this new European Union support. Together they will strengthen the management of water resources and environmental data to benefit the environment and wellbeing of citizens in Armenia.

Frank Hess, Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation to Armenia said “The EU and Armenia are investing in environmental and climate resilience for keeping both people and the environment healthy. Under the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement we made important steps to that end. Building on EU Water Initiative +, the EU continues to support, through the new “Water Resources and Environmental Data” regional programme, sound management of water resources in Armenia and helps reduce the adverse impact of human activities on water quality and ecosystems. In particular, the programme reinforces the on-going EU4Environment Action in Armenia and improves access to reliable environmental information (including on air quality) to Armenian decision-makers and citizens.”

The EU-funded “EU4Environment – Water Resources and Environmental Data” Programme, launched in 2021, aims at supporting a more sustainable use of water resources and improving the use of sound environmental data ... Read more




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