On 6-7 December 2022, Georgia hosted the 9th meeting of the National Policy Dialogue on Water followed by a technical workshop on Nature-based solutions in water sector. Chaired by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture and organised with the support of the European Union within the frame of the new EU4Environment Water Resources and Environmental Data Programme, the National Policy Dialogue meeting aims to identify priorities for water management and the environment, assess progress with recent policy reforms in the water and environment sectors and to brief participants on the latest developments with ongoing national and international water projects in Georgia.
The country is undertaking a major reform of its water sector to comply with the European Union Water Framework Directive (WFD) requirements, as set forth in its Association Agreement with the European Union. In this regard, the Draft Law on Water Resources developed by Georgia with EU support is a key element to pursue reforms in the water sector and ensure sustainable and qualitative water resources for all.
Sustainable management of precious water resources will play a key role in the continued socio-economic development of Georgia. Georgia relies on its water resources not only for domestic, agricultural and industrial use, but also for the vast majority of its power generation. Tensions between these competing uses have emerged. Water is a truly cross-sectoral issue touching all areas of the economy and the lives of citizens. Although water is abundant in Georgia, its quality varies widely. Over a third of wastewater discharged into rivers, lakes and aquifers is insufficiently treated.
Ms Nino Tandilashvili, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia said: “The Government of Georgia has taken important steps to get closer to the EU Water Resources Management Policy. We have developed a law to regulate water resources management, which has already been submitted to the Parliament of Georgia for consideration. The law aims to introduce river basin management system and ensure sustainable use of water resources in our country. Meanwhile, we started enhancing capacities of the National Environmental Agency for conducting research for the quantitative and qualitative indicators of water resources in the entire territory of Georgia in compliance with the internationally recognized standards adopted by EU countries. Moreover, we have developed a national program with the support of the European Union, which helps us to ensure the monitoring of quantitative and qualitative indicators of water resources across the country. The National Environmental Agency cooperates with the environmental sector specialists, the financing is annually increasing, thus enabling the state for the effective implementation and enforcement of Water Law. Our goal is to ensure the sustainable use of water resources in the face of climate change, encourage resource-saving and energy efficiency technologies, reduce water pollution in rivers and bring water quality closer to EU standards.”
Mr Alexander Darras, EU Delegation to Georgia said “Water is a key resource of Georgia, contributing to the beauty of the country and the equilibrium of its biodiversity. For these reasons, EU is providing extensive support to the water sector in Georgia. We strongly encourage Georgia to continue the legislative, institutional and governance reforms required to fully operationalise River Basin Management and to adopt as soon as possible the new Law on Water Resources which was prepared with EU assistance.”
The meeting will be attended by representatives from the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture, Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructures, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Displaced Persons, Labour and Health, Ministry of Economy, Regional Administrations and Universities, Institutes and NGOs. Representatives of the EU Delegation to Georgia and international organisations and donors working in the Georgian water sector will also be present.
Speaking on behalf of the Programme’s implementing partners, Mr Alexander Zinke, Environment Agency Austria said: “Like other countries of the European Union’s Eastern Partnership, Georgia faces challenges with water pollution and exploitation of water resources that are in need of better protection and sustainable use, also at transboundary level. In light of Georgia’s efforts to approach EU standards, 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, the adoption of the Water Law is urgently needed to allow the yet blocked progress towards EU compliance.”