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Clean Air Day Regional Webinar: "How Municipalities Take Action and Talk About Air Quality"

Country: Regional
Component: Environmental Data

More than 100 participants took part to the regional webinar co-organised by the Covenant of Mayors East and the EU4Environment Water and Data programme. The aim was to raise awareness of municipalities about the impact of air pollution, and to showcase good practice examples to reduce Particulate Matters emissions from major sources.

National workshops building on this regional webinar will follow in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine at the end of September.

Air pollution is the main environmental threat to human health. The World Health Organization (WHO) assumes that around 7 million premature deaths are globally related to air pollution. The pollutant with the most severe health impacts is fine particulate matter, PM2.5.

The main sources of PM2.5 are domestic heating with biomass or coal, diesel vehicles, open burning of waste and agricultural waste, industry and power plants. A number of good practice examples are available that can be implemented to reduce emissions of PM2.5 from these sources. In most cases, these measures contribute to further environmental topics such as climate change and noise as well as improving energy security and mobility.



Shared knowledge on wastewater-based epidemiology: high-level workshop on 3rd July

Country: Regional
Component: Water resources, Environmental Data

Wastewater is a mirror of our civilization and an effective early warning system for the spreading of contagious diseases. Through the EU4Environment Water and Data program, the European Union supports its Eastern Partner countries in the further development of wastewater monitoring and in institutionalizing this new powerful tool for public health protection.

On 3 July 2023, upfront the WHO Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health in Budapest, a high-level workshop brings together ministers and other decision-makers of the Eastern Partner countries with EU representatives to address the need for a national wastewater-based epidemiology policy and regulation in the region. Aim of the workshop is to review the power and benefits of this tool and to initiate the relevant policy processes in the partner countries to formally establish a surveillance that can easily coordinate with the EU and other global actors. Austrian experts will highlight progress and further needs at the workshop and in a side event at the WHO Ministerial Conference on July 5.

Together, the European Union and our Eastern partners were able to overcome enormous challenges posed by the pandemic”, explains Lawrence Meredith, director of the EU Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations. “The next step will be to set up routine wastewater epidemiological testing as soon as possible. The European Union is ready to make this next step together with the Eastern Partner countries.

In order to ensure establishment, sustainability and reliability of national wastewater-based epidemiology programmes, it is essential to define procedures with allocated responsibilities at the health and environment sectors. Countries need to arrange formal commitment from relevant national actors and ensure adequate resourcing. Our program has laid the foundation for this”, states Alexander Zinke, project leader of EU4Environment Water and Data.

We are keen to share the EU experience and strengthen regular coordination with key actors at EU and the global level” says Bernd Gawlik from the EU Joint Research Centre, stressing the global dimension of wastewater-based epidemiology.

Wastewater-based epidemiology has been established since 2021 throughout Europe as a cost-effective, rapid and reliable source of epidemiologic information for national health authorities, local health care and national disease control centers, public and private wastewater operators, and water and environment agencies. Triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic, wastewater surveillance of the spread of infections is becoming a global standard that has clear advantages compared for instance to clinical testings. The EU4Environment Water and Data program initiated in April 2022 the introduction of wastewater-based epidemiology to Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Republic of Moldova, supports Ukraine and keeps on transferring the EU and Austrian experience and know how on this topic in close coordination with the European Commission.

Latest updates (May-June 2023)

Country: Regional
Component: Water resources, Environmental Data

On May 13th, the EU4Environment Water and Data Programme celebrated Europe Day in Chisinau.

Water resources

Water monitoring

Several water surveys took place in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia over the months of May and June. In Armenia, surface and groundwater surveys took place mid June. In Azerbaijan, a surface water survey took place early May, and a coastal and transitional water survey aimed to examine the eutrophication in the Baku Bay caused by wastewater. In Georgia, following a surface water and coastal and transitional water survey in May, experts conducted in June a comprehensive groundwater assessment training and a groundwater sampling audit to assess the respect of the ISO  standards and the EU Water Framework and Groundwater Directives to monitor groundwater. Still in Georgia, a workshop on ecological monitoring took place early May.

River Basin Management Plans

In Armenia, a consultation on the Qasakh quantitative management plan was held.

National Policy Dialogues and international cooperation

Ukraine held its 7th meeting of the national policy dialogue. Participants discussed the next steps in the actualisation of Ukraine’s water governance policies in order to better put the European Union objectives in practice.

Several UNECE working groups took place in May and June (working group on water and sanitation, on integrated water resources management).


Environmental data

The 25th session of the UNECE Working Group on Environmental Monitoring and Assessment was held and gathered representatives from all of the Eastern Partner Countries.

Water accounts

A workshop to introduce water accounts to decision-makers took place on June 13th in Armenia.

Air quality

Region-wide activities were organized concerning air quality monitoring. One regional training on statistics and indicators on air quality and emissions to air took place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. This will help countries to provide robust information for evidence-based policies, following the SEIS principles.

The Regional Training was preceded by the 25th session of the Working Group on Environmental Monitoring and Assessment which was held from 2-3 May 2023 in Geneva and online and with financial support from the European Union.An indepth review of air emission inventories submitted by the partner countries under the Air convention took place in Vienna at the end of May.

Environmental data collection

The previous progress on open data collection for environmental information online portals continued in Armenia and Georgia. These portals will collect data submitted by various stakeholders and analyze it, in order to present it to a large audience on their websites.

Nature-Based Solutions revitalizing River Basins in Eastern Partner Countries: Insights of the EU4Environment Water and Data regional online workshop on July 6th

Country: Regional
Component: Water resources

On July 6th, 2023, the EU4Environment Water and Data programme organised an online regional workshop focusing on nature-based solutions in Eastern Partner countries. The workshop gathered over 100 participants, including experts from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. Their shared experiences centered around the implementation of nature-based solutions to combat soil erosion, mitigate floods, and address biodiversity loss.

The workshop's primary objective is to foster a deeper understanding and acceptance of nature-based solutions among Eastern Partner countries. This understanding is essential for integrating nature-based solutions into the programmes of measures of River Basin Management Plans. Currently, such plans are being developed in Armenia (Northern river basin), Georgia (Enguri and Rioni river basins), and Ukraine (Dnipro river basin). Nature-based solutions are seen as relevant measures within these plans because they address societal challenges while simultaneously preserving biodiversity and natural resources.

The insights shared during the workshop will play a valuable role in the development of a comprehensive catalogue on nature-based solutions. This catalogue is being developed by the International Office for Water as part of the programme. Its aim is to facilitate the incorporation of practical and effective nature-based solutions into the river basin management plans of Eastern Partner countries.

The importance of nature-based solutions lies in their cost-effectiveness and sustainability, particularly when driven by local leadership. Implementing successful nature-based solutions requires understanding the local context and involving various partners who may not typically collaborate. Additionally, traditional cost-benefit analyses need to be adapted to fully capture the positive impacts of nature-based solutions on the environment, but also contribute to reducing the effects of climate change while promoting social and economic development in the countries.

Finally, the participants stressed the significance of preserving existing natural ecosystems as the best form of nature-based solutions. By protecting and conserving these ecosystems, it becomes possible to enhance their natural functions and benefits.

Agenda of the workshop

Presentations and useful resources

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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