1 Introduction

1         Introduction

The European Union (EU) has been strengthening its political and socio-economic relations with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine under the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI) with the aim of supporting political, economic and social reforms. The Eastern Partnership (EaP) is a joint initiative involving the EU, its Member States and six Eastern European Partners: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine (also referred to as the region in this Report).  Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine border the European Union on the East, where Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia lie on the Caucasus region between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea (Figure 1). The EU has association with the three Eastern Partnership countries (Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine) signed in June 2014.

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The Eastern Partnership countries are home to around 70 million people and are still in the transition period to market economies. Population dynamics show mixed trends, decreasing in some countries e.g. in Armenia and sharply increasing e.g. in Azerbaijan.  Ukraine has the largest population of 42 million, followed by Azerbaijan with 10 million. Belarus has a population of 9.46 million, Georgia 3.7 million, Moldova 3.5 million and Armenia 3.0 million.

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The Eastern Partnership countries are located on lands where freshwater ecosystems are very diverse with floodplains, rivers and lakes. Water resources are key to maintain major economic sectors in the countries, such as agriculture.

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Figure 1: Terrain and major rivers in Eastern Partnership Countries

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1.1       Purpose of this report


The ENI SEIS II East project ([1]) is supported by the EU under the European Neighbourhood Instrument to underpin knowledge-based policymaking towards sustainable development in the region. The EEA implemented the project in strong collaboration with a network of national agencies operating in various areas of environment. This report is one of the outputs of the ENI SEIS II East Project, aiming to provide a regional overview on the state of freshwater resources and water use. The report has been built upon a set of water quantity and quality indicators which have been jointly developed with national water experts of the Eastern Partnership countries.


The report also briefly touches upon the gap in regional data and knowledge on the water resources and need for future work in improving knowledge-based environmental policy and sustainable management of water resources.

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1.2       Structure of the report


The report has been organised in five chapters dedicated to various aspects of water resources management in the region. Chapter 2 describes the geographical setting and provides information on the policy background for water resources management with national and regional perspectives. Chapter 3 deals with assessments on renewable freshwater resources, pressures on water resources and water use efficiencies across all ENI East countries. Chapter 4 is dedicated to overall water quality issues, with a special focus on organic and nutrient pollution of waters and their drivers, while Chapter 5 addresses integrated water resources management, and provides an outlook for future work in the Region.

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1.3       Context of the report


In 2011, the Astana Water Action (UNECE, 2011a) addressed the status of  water  and  water-related  ecosystems as a key issue and set possible actions to improve it by ensuring the sustainable development in the UNECE region. Eastern Partnership countries, as part of the UNECE region ([2]), host large areas of freshwater ecosystems including rivers and floodplains. Water is regarded as a strategic natural resource for supplying water to around 70 million people; and supports the key economic sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing industries in the region. However, renewable freshwater resources in the region are either over-exploited by economic sectors or polluted with high level nitrate and phosphorus emissions, mainly from agriculture. A large portion of the population of the region still don’t have access to a public water supply, whereas direct discharge or insufficient treated waste water exacerbate the pollution of surface and groundwater resources. These problems, partly or entirely, are common in all Eastern Partnership countries and have already been addressed in several publications (EEA, 2011; UNECE-OECD, 2014; UNECE, 2010a;REC 2011; UN, 2007; UNEP, 2011; Organisation für Sicherheit und Zusammenarbeit in Europa, 2015; Koszta et al., 2016)

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Reports developed by the international organisations REC (2011), UNECE-OECD (2014) and UNECE (2011a) addressed the importance of data and information sharing on water resources at the regional level and emphasised the need for political attention and promoted the need for action.

Countries decided to develop a Shared Environmental Information System (SEIS) across the pan-European region at the Seventh Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference in Astana in 2011 (UNECE 2011b, 2020). The Joint Task Force on Environmental Indicators developed under the Working Group on Environmental Monitoring and Assessment has established a list of environmental indicators and guidelines (UNECE, 2020a) to support the national environmental monitoring efforts in the countries (UNECE, 2020c).

The context of this report has been defined by those UNECE water indicators selected by the Eastern Partnership countries for addressing common issues on renewable freshwater resources and water resources management, such as water pollution, water scarcity and resource efficiency.

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Table 1: Selected water environment indicators

Note: Individual indicators can be seen on the ENI SEIS II East project website: https://eni-seis.eionet.europa.eu/east/indicators


The suitability of indicators for individual countries was limited by their respective data provision. As the State Statistics Service of Ukraine doesn’t have a mandate for collecting water quantity data, Ukraine’s freshwaters are not covered by water quantity assessments. However, this report addresses water quantity in Ukraine to a limited extent, based on data available online in different national or international domains to ensure a proper regionally horizontal assessment.

The Drivers – Pressure – State – Impact – Response (DPSIR) framework is the main analytical approach applied in this report. The overall analytical approach of the report is also aligned with the UNECE guidelines for the preparation of indicator-based environment assessment reports (UNECE, 2007c).

([2]) The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) was set up in 1947 by ECOSOC and its Member States include the countries of Europe (also Eastern countries; Belarus, Republic of Moldova, Ukraine), the Caucasus countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia) but also countries in North America (Canada and United States), Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) and Western Asia (Israel)

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