The first meeting under the recently launched project "Lepenec River Protection via the Introduction of Integrated Water Management" was held on May 29, 2014, in the Macedonian capital Skopje. The project is funded by Finland and implemented in the framework of the Environment and Security Initiative (ENVSEC) as part of its South East Europe Programme "Transforming Environmental Risks into Cooperation, 2009-2014". The bilateral meeting between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Kosovo* was attended by high-level officials responsible for environment and physical planning, as well as representatives from the ministries for agriculture, transportation and the economy, hydrometeorology institutes, health-care institutes, the business sector and non-governmental organisations.
Participants agreed on the content of the project and the timing of project activities. The next step will be the formal nomination of experts from the participating institutions, who will form a joint expert working group for the protection of the Lepenec River. This joint expert group will monitor the development of technical documentation, assess the current situation with respect to water supply and wastewater management, analyse the legal and institutional set-up and create a stakeholder map.
The next bilateral meeting is scheduled to take place in Pristina in the second half of September 2014, when the draft assessment will be discussed and adopted.
The project will focus on the management of shared natural resources, with an emphasis on cross-border cooperation and dialogue for the management of transboundary water resources. Its goal is in line with the overall objective of ENVSEC to contribute to the reduction of environment and security risks and to improve cooperation on environment and security issues between and within the countries of South Eastern Europe (SEE). It contributes directly to objectives under the second component of the ENVSEC programme for the SEE region regarding the improved management of natural resources.