Safeguarding the intrinsic value of the Drin River Basin: progress-to-date

Posted on Nov 16, 2018

The Drin River Basin is beyond any doubt one of the most important freshwater biodiversity hotspots of Europe; its intrinsic value is priceless. The Drin River Basin is full of life, providing important habitats for an exceptional wealth of biodiversity. The interconnected watershed bodies and the ecosystems and communities they house deliver a steady stream of benefits to its residents. All Drin riparian counties rely on the extended Drin River Basin waters and their robust state as an economic resource.

Sadly, diverse and often conflicting uses and unsustainable management practices exert severe pressures and put the basin at risk. In reaction to this, a decade ago the Drin Dialogue – a structured consultation process- was setup in order to establish a shared vision for the coordinated and integrated management of the shared water resources in the basin. The outcome of the Drin Dialogue was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding by the Drin riparian counties (Tirana, November 2011), paving the way for joint actions to safeguard the intrinsic value of Drin River Basin and promote sustainable development. Currently, a follow-up process called the Drin Coordinated Action is ongoing with the goal to ensure the implementation of the aforementioned Memorandum of Understanding.

Within this context, more than 120 stakeholders from the Drin riparian countries came together at Lake Ohrid from the 14th to the 15th of November 2018 to discuss the main pressures and threats in the extended Drin River Basin and take stock of how these are being tackled. MIO-ECSDE participated in this sixth stakeholders’ conference and was proud to launch the second edition of the MIO-ECSDE publication ‘The Natural Wealth and Legacy of the Drin River Basin: Inspiring our Collective Actions’ which was produced under the Drin CORDA – Coordinated Action for a Sustainable Future with the support of the GEF Drin Project, executed by Global Water Partnership – Mediterranean / GWP-Med. The new publication can be found here.

Under the Drin Coordinated Action, over the last two years a comprehensive transboundary diagnostic analysis is being carried out in order to facilitate informed, effective and strategic management actions. Six thematic reports have been elaborated and were presented at the conference shedding light on different issues affecting the Drin River Basin and addressing the following themes: biodiversity, pollution, hydrology, institutional and legal settings, socio-economic aspects, and the water-food-energy-ecosystems nexus. The findings of the thematic reports identify as key transboundary issues affecting the Drin River Basin: the deterioration of water quality; biodiversity degradation; variability of the hydrological regime; sediment transport and climate variability and change.

MIO-ECSDE also participated in the ‘Drin Core Group’ meeting organized back-to-back to the conference contributing actively to the discussions and the planning of the next steps.