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.”