Albania identifies key sustainability challenges and opportunities using UNECE’s Water-Food-Energy-Ecosystem Nexus approach
- An online consultation on the Water-Energy-Food-Ecosystems Nexus in Albania provided for broader engagement into a cross-sectoral assessment exercise.
Economic and social development in Albania crucially depends on the availability and good quality of water, land, forest and environmental resources, which are, however, under increasing pressure, including from climate change. An online consultation on the Water-Energy-Food-Ecosystems Nexus in Albania held on 14 December 2020, provided for broader engagement into a cross-sectoral assessment exercise.
More than 50 officials, stakeholders and experts discussed how to overcome barriers to sustainable development and coordinate actions, essentially discovering an integrated Nexus approach, to reduce trade-offs and to achieve cross-sectoral benefits for all. In Albania, UNECE’s Nexus assessment methodology is applied for the first time at national level as the use so far has been at transboundary river basin or aquifer level.
By pointing at opportunities for synergies in managing and using water and related resources, the South-Eastern Europe Nexus project is promoting the Nexus approach to assist countries in moving towards a better overall resource security. In the context of the project’s activities in Albania, the online consultation was convened by the Global Water Partnership Mediterranean in partnership with UNECE to inform the preparation of the Nexus Assessment.
In the opening statement delivered on behalf of the UN Resident Coordinator, Ms. Fiona McCluney, her Head of Office Ms. Fioralba Shkodra underlined the value of exploring opportunities how to maximize the impacts from work at different levels and by different sectors, mobilizing resources from local, national and international sources for sustainable development, mindful of the regional connectedness and need for cooperation. She stressed that “Designing, planning, and implementing nexus solutions and investments is in the interest of all sectors’ policy makers because these are associated to lower political risks, higher levels of coherence when it comes to cross-sectoral goals and broader benefits, than strictly sectorally developed solutions.”
Representatives from national authorities shared the latest developments in policymaking in the fields of water resources, water supply and sanitation, energy, irrigation and drainage, forestry and biomass, and environmental protection. Experts and representatives of organisations presented related insights and experiences, feeding into discussions on interlinkages and potential solutions. Participants discussed the practical prioritization of identified interlinkages and mapped out potential steps for enhancing cross-sectoral integration and cooperation at institutional, policy and management levels.
Among the points made was that better cross-sectoral coordination and planning can lead to more effective management in the areas of power production, irrigation and flood risk reduction. Participants considered that the drive to reach climate and energy targets would benefit from increasing the share of non-hydro renewables and upscaling energy efficiency measures, and offered some practical solutions, such as improving water efficiency and recovering energy from wastewater treatment processes. It was noted that such measures would bring mutual benefits for the sectors concerned, not only the environment protection and water management and services, but also the energy sector as the water utilities are a major consumer of energy in Albania.
The insights from the discussion will feed into the Nexus Assessment for Albania, a Technical report under preparation, which will look in detail into the sectoral strategies and policies to assess key interlinkages and assess how they are addressed in the current institutional and policy frameworks.
The meeting also involved a dedicated session on available options to finance Nexus-related interventions. As the project seeks to identify concrete investment options, linking different sectors, the UNECE’s Framework for Nexus solutions and Investments was presented, as well as the European Investment Bank’s financing instruments and Albania’s Country Programme for the Green Climate Fund (GCF). By bringing together key sectors and attention to their objectives, the Nexus approach was recognized to add value to strategic achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and climate action, also from the point of view of resource mobilization for greener economic recovery and development.
Note to editors
The project “Promoting the Sustainable Management of Natural Resources in Southeastern Europe, through the use of the Nexus Approach” is funded by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), the operational unit of Austrian Development Cooperation and is implemented by Global Water Partnership-Mediterranean (GWP-Med) in partnership with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).
Meeting documents are available at: https://www.gwp.org/en/GWP-Mediterranean/WE-ACT/Programmes-per-theme/Water-Food-Energy-Nexus/seenexus/nexus-consultation-meeting-in-albania
Applying the Nexus assessment methodology, developed in the framework of the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes, a number of assessments have been carried out, providing for joint identification of problematic intersectoral issues and diverse solutions in response, in close cooperation with the riparian countries.