Slovenia presented its water diplomacy priorities and good pratices
Statement by Ambassador Barbara Žvokelj, Permanent Representative of Slovenia to the International Organizations in Vienna, at the thematic meeting of the OSCE Economic and Environmental Committee “Promoting good governance in water management", Vienna, 30 September 2020
Slovenia is a country rich with water resources but we take sustainable water management, both on national and international level, very seriously. This is why we appreciate that you recognize the importance of addressing water-related issues also within the OSCE.
Slovenian water diplomacy agenda consists of four priority areas: 1) water, peace and security, 2) water-climate change nexus, 3) implementation of the Agenda 2030 (SDG 6 – clean water and sanitation) and 4) transboundary management. In this regard, our actions focus on leveraging the potential of transboundary water cooperation and integrated water resource management as a tool for development as well as for conflict prevention and peace building.
This year, Slovenia took over Chairpersonship of the Group of Friends on Water and Peace in Geneva. We welcome that the OSCE and the OSCE Chairpersonship provided an opportunity to present the activities of the Geneva Water Hub, that acts as the secretariat of the Global High-Level Panel on Water and Peace, chaired by the former Slovenian president dr. Danilo Türk.
In 2017, the Global Panel conducted a report, titled "A Matter of Survival", which recognizes that the global water challenge is about not only development and human rights but it is also, as mentioned by the panelists, about peace and security. This confirms that the OSCE is an important platform for cooperation and exchange of best water management practices that lead to enhanced security.
Slovenia recognizes the nexus between security and water management and with that the importance of its own contribution to the post-conflict reconstruction and peace among the countries involved. In this regard, we are also deeply aware of the need for bilateral, sub-regional and regional cooperation in this field. Good examples of that are the Danube River Basin and as already mentioned Sava River Basin Commission, both of which we are members of.
As a response to the great floods in May 2014 within the basin, which resulted in several deaths and economic damage, the countries of the Sava river basin developed an early warning system with support of the World Bank and the World Meteorological Organization.
The Flood Forecasting and Warning System (FFWS) is a special project because the Sava river basin spreads over 97,000 km2, encompassing five countries: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia. The principal aim of the project is to deliver support that will allow balanced decisions to be taken during floods and droughts.
For such a system to be effective, one has to bridge the differences and support collaboration in the field of water management, keeping the countries’ own autonomy in monitoring, modelling and forecasting, and remain open to developing its own models and supplementary forecasting initiatives. With this system, responsible institutions will be better prepared for emergencies.
The project has been well received by the international community and represents a great example of a successful regional confidence-building measure. Another great example, where we pay particular attention to working with young generations is the Sava Youth Parliament.
Sustainable water management and development require cross-sectoral approach, taking into account interdependence between different uses of water. Like climate resolutions, water governance therefore also depends on cooperation between key stakeholders, including international organizations and agencies, national governments and local authorities, science, business, and civil society. The social dimension of water is also essential: water is important for community building, while empowering local communities is necessary for efficient water use.
In closing, let me emphasize that the comprehensive approach to water and good water management will remain an important part of Slovenian water diplomacy and will be one of the priorities of our Presidency of the Council of the EU in 2021.
Thank you Chair.