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Managing water: the big picture, lecture at UFAZ University, Baku

Country: Azerbaijan
Component: Water resources

On 4 December, at the French-Azerbaijani University (UFAZ) in Baku, Azerbaijan, the International Office for Water (OiEau, one of the implementing partners of the EU4Environment Water and Data Programme) gave a lecture on the holistic vision of water management to 25 students of different levels, mainly in Masters students (8 women, 17 men) and 3 teachers.

The lecture was an opportunity to broaden the scope of the water issue for students following a mainly technical curriculum. Some questions were asked about the promotion of such an integrated approach to water resources management (which organisation(s) promote this vision), and about transboundary issues.

The UFAZ is preparing a new Master's programme dedicated to water resources, which will open in the next academic year.

Download the presentation:  "Water management, a big-picture issue" - Philippe Seguin, Engineer and Project Manager at the International Office for Water (OiEau).

EU supports Azerbaijan in applying a cross-sectoral approach for tackling water management challenges

Country: Azerbaijan
Component: Water resources

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.

Regional Laboratory Trainings in Azerbaijan

Country: Azerbaijan
Component: Water resources

World Water Day: in Azerbaijan, a comprehensive way to help the Khojasan Lake recover

Date: 23/03/2023
Country: Azerbaijan
Component: Water resources

The Khojasan Lake lies near Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. Due to the quantity of people living nearby, the lake was subjected to high levels of water pollution, which endangered its ecosystem. On World Water Day 2023, we celebrate change in the way we consider water for our future. Change starts by reconsidering the lakes and rivers as “living bodies”, with their own ecosystems and biodiversity, and by respecting how they function.

In Azerbaijan, the Khojasan Lake near Baku (Azerbaijan) was subjected to high levels of water pollution. The solution to restore the lake was to implement Integrated Lake Management.

Integrated Lake Management is a comprehensive way to help the lake recover. It does not include any direct human intervention on the lake or its waters; the lake is indeed able to clean itself through its capacity of self-purification. The lake can do so, provided that it does not receive more pollution than it can handle.

The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of Azerbaijan already helped to clean solid waste around the Khojasan Lake. A waste water treatment plant will be built to treat the polluted urban water before it is released into the lake, and natural self-purification will gradually clean the remaining wastewater discharged into the lake, without damaging its ecosystem.

The other human intervention around the Khojasan Lake consists in helping to protect the lake’s ecosystem; for example, trees that will limit erosion around the lake were planted with the support of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources.

This is a quick project to initiate, which respects the environment and its self-preserving capacity, and will have many long-lasting positive impacts on local biodiversity and on the health and well-being of the people who live near the Khojasan Lake.

The European Union encourages similar initiatives all around Azerbaijan; through long-lasting cooperation, we can bring positive changes and sustainable solutions to the people and environment of Azerbaijan.


Coastal & Transitional water survey on June 12th-16th in Azerbaijan

Country: Azerbaijan
Component: Water resources, Environmental Data

The survey aimed to assess the impact of human pressures on Coastal and Transitional waters in Azerbaijan. It was organised from 12 to 16 June 2023 and followed a previous one organised in October 2022. Both surveys were organised in the frame of the EU4Environment Water and Data programme.

Coastal and transitional are at the interface between land (freshwater) and the ocean (or the sea). Coastal and Transitional waters belong to the most productive ecosystems of the world, and they are also the sites of major cities and ports. For this reason, pollution and deterioration of marine habitats are very common.

For 5 days, samples of water were taken in several locations in areas where the Kura river meets the Caspian Sea: Shurabad, Turkan, Baku Bay, and the Kura Delta.

The survey aimed to examine the eutrophication in the Baku Bay caused by wastewater. The survey also aimed to set up specific thresholds (high/good/moderate) for parameters investigated. Such thresholds are essentials to develop reliable indicators in order to assess the ecological status of the coastal and transitional waters.

Different parameters were measured in water. Temperature, salt levels and turbidity were measured in situ at 24 stations. And 36 probes in total were taken to measure dissolved oxygen, nutrients (nitrate, nitrite, ammonia, and orthophosphate) and phytoplankton in a laboratory.

Physical measurements (temperature, salt levels, etc) are very important for the evaluation of chemical results. For example, a high nutrient concentration established in freshwater where salinity is low can be absolutely normal while the same concentration of nutrients found in the Caspian seawater with a higher salinity can be a strong indicator of eutrophication.

With the support of a Croatian expert, Azerbaijani experts could investigate five coastal, one transitional, and one artificial water body. The water body is a coherent sub-unit in the river basin to which the environmental objectives of the EU Water Framework Directive must apply.

The EU Water Framework Directive (WFD), adopted in 2000, takes a pioneering approach to protecting water based on natural geographical formations (river basins). To achieve a good status of water, water monitoring methods should not only assess chemical and physical parameters, but also biological and other parameters. Assessing the ecological status of water is a first step towards taking better account of ecosystem needs. 



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

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

Country: Azerbaijan
Component: Water resources, Environmental Data

The official launching of the EU4Environment – Water Resources and Environmental Data programme in Azerbaijan was held in an online format on 2 March 2022. This European Union funded 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 Azerbaijani 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 Azerbaijan. It aims i) to support the implementation of existing and new policies and regulations at local levels through decentralized management of water resources, and ii) to give access to reliable data and information on water resources, but also on air quality, land use and waste to decision-makers and Azerbaijani citizens. To this end, EU4Environment – Water Resources and Environmental Data builds upon the success of previous operational projects like the European Water Initiative Plus (EUWI+) and the Shared Environmental Information System Phase II (ENIS SEIS II East).

The EUWI+ project has helped Azerbaijan implement the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with the EU and gradually adopt EU water management practices. River Basin Management Plan for the Kura – upstream of the Mingachevir dam is now ready for adoption (15,000km2, 1.5 Million inhabitant). To reinforce knowledge of water resources, three water laboratories were refurbished with new high-end analytical equipment. Monitoring sites for rivers and groundwater were upgraded, and field surveys covering around 130 sites including coastal waters were held. Additional work on water data integration, laws and regulations enforcement, transboundary cooperation with Georgia and financing mechanisms were also undertaken during the project.

The ENI SEIS II East project supported implementation of the principles and practices of the Shared Environmental Information System (SEIS) to strengthen the production of environmental data and indicators in biodiversity, water, land, waste and air. The project developed Azerbaijan’s institutional capacity in environmental assessment and accounting, and as an example introduced new tools for improving the accessibility of air quality measurement data based on the EU Air Quality Directives and the European Air Quality Index. Information on key indicators of the shared environmental information system is available on the webpage of the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources. An Air Quality Analysis Center was also established in June 2019, at the Khazar University.

The European Commission and the implementing partners look forward to continuing and strengthening their engagement with Azerbaijan 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 Azerbaijani citizens.

Mr Rainer Freud, Programme Manager at the Delegation of the European Union to Azerbaijan said: "A healthy environment is crucial for functioning of ecosystems and human wellbeing. In particular, the recent dry years and the COVID-19 pandemic have demonstrated the importance of water in the times of crisis. In the European Union, environmental and water policies are part of the main building blocks of the European Green Deal. Since 2016, the European Union through the EUWI+ and ENI SEIS II EAST programmes has supported Azerbaijan in strengthening its water sector as well as in developing concrete information systems.  The adoption of the National Water Strategy and the sharing of produced data with the public are two crucial next steps for Azerbaijan. This project is also supporting the Government of Azerbaijan Action Plan on rational use of water resources in 2020-2022 and can help with prioritization of investment opportunities under the European Investment Plan for Azerbaijan".  

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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