On 26 October 2023, Armenia conducted its 21ST meeting of the National Policy Dialogue on Water. This regular cross-sectoral dialogue is part of the country’s long-standing efforts to reform water policies and practices along with national goals and international commitments. This dialogue engages a broad representation of national and local government, academia and non-governmental stakeholders, as well as the international community.
Chaired by the Ministry of Environment and organised within the “European Union for Environment” Programme framework, the meeting focused on water resilience in the context of increasing pressures, including climate change. The participants discussed the progress made since the updated Water Code came into effect, including in conjunction with ongoing water projects, and defined emerging challenges and priorities. Also, lessons learnt from the joint monitoring of surface and groundwater resources with Georgia in the Khrami-Debed basin and the next steps were identified.
Lilit Abrhamyan, Head of the Water Policy Department of the Ministry of Environment, said: “The National Water Policy Dialogue, which has taken place in Armenia since 2006, is an important platform to discuss the priority issues in the water sector, ensure synergies and coordinate inter-sectoral policies. Currently, the reforms in the water sector are at a crucial and decisive stage, given that by 2026, Armenia must fulfil several principal obligations undertaken according to the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership agreement with the European Union. In this regard, National Water Policy Dialogues will continue to play a crucial role in Armenia in the coming years.”
Mr Frank Hess, Head of the Cooperation Section of the EU Delegation to Armenia, stated: “We are strongly committed to enhance EU-Armenia relations. Working for the benefit of people and the environment is our shared goal. We are happy to see that, with EU support, river basin management planning, water monitoring and economics, data management, and transboundary cooperation have all advanced. As we face a growing climate crisis, water resilience becomes ever more important for our societies and our economies. It cannot be achieved without meaningful stakeholder dialogue.”
The meeting was attended by the members of Armenia’s Steering Committee for the National Policy Dialogue on Water. The cross-sectoral Committee consists 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 partners working in the Armenian water sector are also invited to attend the Committee’s meetings.
Speaking on behalf of the EU4Environment implementing partners, Mr Alexander Zinke, Environment Agency Austria, highlighted the Government’s commitment and action: “With support from the European Union and other international partners, Armenia has made significant policy reforms to tackle its water management challenges and strengthened transboundary water cooperation with Georgia. While further advancements are needed, we believe Armenia will meet its environmental goals.”
Driven by overdemand, mismanagement and the impacts of the triple crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution, water stress is increasing worldwide. At the same time, water is essential for the resilience of both societies and the environment.
In Armenia, water is a truly cross-sectoral issue touching all areas of the economy and the lives of citizens. Effectively handling water resources in a sustainable manner is thus crucial for the country's socio-economic progress. The revisions to the Water Code, which were adopted in July 2022, have set a strong foundation for continuing the water sector reforms.
Armenia has committed to reform water policies and practices as part of the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with the European Union. This includes alignment with the EU water law, in particular, the Water Framework Directive (WFD).
For over a decade, the European Union has provided comprehensive support for reforming the water sector in Armenia. Both investment and technical support projects are ongoing.