The REC is continually exploring innovative ways to focus attention on water-related issues, embracing a broad selection of stakeholder concerns in the interests of social and economic development and environmental protection. The REC's work in this area of expertise, implemented in the context of an integrated approach to water resources management, contributes to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and the World Summit for Sustainable Development targets on drinking water and sanitation.
The REC's objectives within this area of expertise are to:
- promote improved water governance;
- implement capacity-building and awareness-raising activities;
- strengthen coordination by promoting the river basin management approach;
- assist countries to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of water management through multi-stakeholder dialogue and coordination;
- encourage the design and improvement of mechanisms to mitigate the effects of climate change in relation to water scarcity, droughts and floods; and
- reinforce the integration of water resources management in other relevant sectors such as energy, transport, agriculture, fisheries, regional policy and tourism.
Activities are implemented with a sensitivity to the specific conditions and needs of each beneficiary. The REC focuses on all aspects of water-efficient systems and training, and provides concrete services in the effective use and management of water resources. The main problems and challenges in South Eastern European (SEE) countries fall into three categories:
Water governance, capacity building and awareness raising
- Harmonising national policy and regulations with EU water policy.
- Strengthening and implementing the legal and regulatory framework.
- Addressing institutional issues and providing capacity-building support.
- Improving access to information and public participation.
- Providing leadership, management and coordination of water programmes.
Transboundary water issues
- Introducing river basin management approaches.
- Identifying significant concerns in relation to the management of watercourses that flow through one or more SEE countries and neighbouring states.
- Coordinating the activities of relevant regional and state agencies, local authorities and other institutions.
- Helping to produce analyses and reports on whether SEE countries and neighbouring states are in compliance with the requirements of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and other water-related directives.
- Strengthening water resources monitoring and assessments.
- Introducing measures to facilitate adaptation to climate change impacts.
- Facilitating multi-stakeholder dialogue and coordination.
- Reinforcing the incorporation of integrated water resources management into other relevant sectoral policies.
- Helping to collect, process and analyse highly technical data.
- Preparing manuals, guidelines and protocols in line with the requirements of the WFD and other water-related directives.
- Developing action plans for the introduction of remediation and mitigation measures.
- Reviewing procedural documents to confirm their harmonisation with the rules and regulations required by the new EU water policy.
- Providing technical assistance to authorities, local communities and the public in administrative hearings and in intensive water-use/pollution control area hearings.