28 March 2006

Four Sava Countries to Develop First ever Sava Protection Plan

VIENNA, 28 March (UN Information Service) -- The four countries sharing the Sava River and its basin have agreed to develop the first ever plan for the protection of their joint water resources and the River Sava's environment, the United Nations Development Programme-Global Environment Facility (UNDP-GEF) Danube Regional Project (DRP) announced today.

As part of the agreement, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro and Slovenia will jointly develop a 'Sava River Basin Management Plan'. The Plan will include an assessment of the Sava River Basin environment and human pressures impacting on it. It will also include key trans-boundary issues shared by the countries and measures geared to solving joint environmental problems.

Potential trans-boundary issues will include pollution from agriculture, municipal wastewater and industry and alterations to the river from past and planned hydropower dams on the Sava, Vrbas and Drina rivers and dykes for flood control. Future development of navigation along the Sava may be another sensitive issue.

Measures to improve problems could include the building of new municipal wastewater treatment facilities, reducing the volume of fertilizers applied by farmers, and restoring wetlands.

"The DRP is helping the countries to start development of the Sava Plan," said DRP Technical Specialist Peter Whalley. "There will be some difficult questions ahead in terms of agreeing on trans-boundary environmental issues and solutions." 

DRP's technical assistance will go on until 2007 in partnership with the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR). With its Secretariat in Vienna, ICPDR coordinates all water management in the Danube basin. ICPDR will continue to guide Sava plan completion by 2009 - the deadline by which the European Union (EU) obliges countries to develop national and basin-wide plans to ensure the good quality of their waters by 2015.

All four Sava countries agreed to develop the Plan to meet the objectives of EU water protection law, namely the Water Framework Directive (WFD). They also agreed to develop separate national assessments of the waters within their countries. EU Member State Slovenia fulfilled its WFD obligation to develop a national report in 2005. Croatia may be obliged to as part of accession negotiations expected soon with the EU. Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia and Montenegro volunteered.

The Plan will be developed in close cooperation with the Sava River Protection Commission created in July 2005. The Commission's newly created Expert Group on River Basin Management is steering the Plan development and will benefit directly from DRP assistance.

Note to Editors:

What is the Danube Regional Project? The overall goal of the Danube Regional Project (DRP) is to improve the environment of the Danube River Basin, protect its waters and sustainably manage its natural resources for the benefit of nature and people. The DRP helps 13 Danube countries implement the Danube River Protection Convention primarily through reducing nutrient and toxic pollution and strengthening trans-boundary cooperation in the most international river basin in the world. Through its partnerships with Governments, industry, NGOs and local communities, the DRP provides both technical and financial support. It also ensures, through sophisticated public participation and communications activities, that all Danube stakeholders are aware of relevant issues and can put their concerns into action.

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For more information:

Paul Csagoly
Email: paul.csagoly@unvienna.org
(tel) +43 1 26060 4722
(mob) +43 664 561 2192