On 5-6 April 2023, Azerbaijan hosted the 10th meeting of the National Policy Dialogue (NPD) on Water. This dialogue engages a broad representation from national and local authorities, academic and NGO communities to discuss priorities and drive the water policy reform. Azerbaijan suffers from water scarcity and an uneven distribution of its water resources, which are extremely sensitive to climate change and pollution. A significant part of Azerbaijan’s water supply comes from sources that originate outside the national borders. Therefore, international water cooperation is critical. The new overarching Water Action Agenda, which is a key outcome of the UN 2023 Water Conference, aims at addressing the global water crisis. Both Azerbaijan and the European Union made voluntary commitments to accelerate progress in this area.
Chaired by the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources and organised with support from the European Union, the NPD meeting aims to take stock of 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 environment projects in Azerbaijan.
The Deputy Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources said: “Water is a key resource to Azerbaijan and is under increasing pressures from climate change and population growth. We are committed to ensuring sustainable water management use, in line with good international practices. The National Policy Dialogue is an important cross-sectoral platform for coordination with all water users and ensuring result-oriented outcomes of the water sector initiatives. Our overall aim is to promote sustainable management of natural resources, and their rational use within the context of climate change context. We are grateful for the support of the European Union as we progress on reforms in our water resources and environmental data.”
Peter Michalko, Ambassador of the European Union in Azerbaijan, said: “Water is vital to every human being, any national economy and a major contributor to human well-being. The European Union and its Member States as Team Europe are strongly engaged in water cooperation and committed to the Water Action Agenda. As part of the regional EU4Environment programme, the European Union is supporting Azerbaijan to achieve sustainable reforms in the water sector. Our Economic and Investment Plan also plays a role in assisting Azerbaijan and other Eastern Partnership countries in transforming their economies and making them more resilient. This cannot be achieved without a clear water strategy, modern water management tools and stakeholder engagement.”
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 issues: “Azerbaijan faces challenges with water pollution and exploitation of water resources that are in need of better protection. This European Union programme continues to strengthen the country’s capacity and help apply best practice in areas such as river basin planning, monitoring and sustainable water use, as well as in collecting and publishing further data on land use, waste and air pollution. We are committed to working with our Azerbaijani partners to further enable and speed up progress.”
Photo credits: Aghali Mirsadig