Discussion table between Institutions and Civil Society on the Integrated Management of the Vjosa River Basin

Tirana, November 20, 2023. Representatives from the Ministry of Tourism and Environment, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Water Resources Management Agency, the Agricultural and Rural Development Agency, EuroNatur, and EcoAlbania gathered at the Center for Openness and Dialogue (COD, Prime Minister’s Office) for a joint discussion on the integrated management of the Vjosa River Basin. Representatives of institutions and experts presented and exchanged information to coordinate activities among the responsible institutions for conservation, monitoring, water resource management, agricultural development, forestry, and tourism in the Vjosa River Basin.

The main focus of the discussions was on the development process of the Management Plan for the Vjosa River National Park and the Integrated Management Plan for the Vjosa River Basin, in accordance with the guidelines of the Water Framework Directive. Participants agreed that these plans should address all necessary aspects related to management, such as nature-based solutions to prevent the impact of floods and erosion instead of engineering interventions, land loss, water extraction to support irrigation, and providing drinking water for the community, as well as a list of permissible and prohibited activities based on scientific studies, etc.

Furthermore, it was emphasized that the roles of institutions should be clearly defined, and collaboration among them should be established to collectively acknowledge and work towards finding coordinated solutions to protect the environmental integrity and biodiversity of the Vjosa.

In conclusion, the discussions highlighted the importance of:

  • Harmonizing the two processes of developing the management plan for the Vjosa River Basin and the Vjosa River National Park.
  • The need for the involvement of all institutions in the planning phase.
  • Planning preventive/improvement interventions based on nature in flood risk management.
  • Implementing an inclusive approach in the planning phase by engaging all stakeholders and enabling well-informed decision-making.

The ESPID4Vjosa project is working on a technical report to provide additional guidance to authorities on various relevant topics tailored to the needs of the Vjosa River Basin Management Plan and the Integrated Management Plan. It will also offer suggestions for key concerns (partially raised in this meeting), information on EU requirements, and ideas in accordance with existing Albanian legislation. Furthermore, a guide for public participation will be developed to provide firsthand experiences and examples of best practices for authorities.

The ESPID4Vjosa project is funded by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) and implemented by the organizations Euronatur and EcoAlbania.