3. Policy responses

Globally, water resources are under pressure, with demand increasing six-fold over the last century. By 2025, the agriculture and energy sectors are expected to consume 60% and 80% more than current levels, respectively. As a result of climate change, water systems are becoming less predictable and reliable. Economic activity continues to compromise the quality of water resources due to pollution from industrial wastewater and runoff from agricultural facilities and human settlements. Water is inherently connected to various sectors, notably through the food-water-energy nexus; poor water infrastructure can impair the delivery of other key infrastructure services (Strelkovskii et al., 2019[1]). As demographic pressures increase and the effects of climate change become more apparent, governments need a robust, comprehensive water strategy to confront these mounting, interconnected challenges and ensure water security for all.

As part of the European Union Water Initiative Plus for the Eastern Partnership (EUWI+) project, two capacity building workshops were organised for the Republic of Belarus (hereafter “Belarus”) on strategic and mid-term planning for water management. The first took place in October 2017 as a side event at the International Water Forum in Minsk, while the second occurred in April 2018. To complement these activities, the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in co-operation with the OECD held a training workshop in 2018. Supported by the government of Norway, the workshop explored innovative methods and tools based on systems analysis. Through a participatory approach, attendees learned to develop a “no regret” national water strategy in the context of high risks, uncertainty and conflicting interests of water users. Representatives of ministries and agencies from Belarus took part in this well-received event, along with colleagues from Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine (Strelkovskii et al., 2019[1]).

This training complemented other efforts under EUWI+ to support the development and implementation of Belarus’s Strategy of Water Resource Management in the Context of Climate Change for the Period until 2030 (hereafter “Water Strategy 2030”). Belarus recognised the importance of strategic environmental assessment (SEA) for the comprehensive integration of environmental and health concerns into the legislative process. For that reason, it joined the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Protocol on SEA. Consequently, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection asked UNECE to support a pilot application of SEA. The SEA process for the draft Water Strategy 2030 was implemented according to international requirements, including comprehensive public consultation, and has already resulted in significant improvements of the draft Water Strategy.

The SEA process was organised in two steps. First, a scoping SEA report was compiled and distributed for comments. This consultation took place online due to restrictions on physical meetings related to COVID-19. Second, a full SEA report was published and opened for public consultation. Comments received helped significantly improve the final SEA report, and also helped formulate valuable recommendations for the draft Water Strategy 2030.

The developers of the Water Strategy 2030 adopted several SEA recommendations from this process. These pertained to more robust sections on wetlands; the role of the protected area system in safeguarding valuable water ecosystems; expansion of protected areas and forecasts of seasonal changes in river flow; and consequences for water-dependent economic sectors and natural ecosystems.

The final SEA report concluded that the draft Water Strategy 2030 is well-linked to other strategic documents at the national level related to the use and protection of water resources. The goals in the draft Water Strategy 2030 are generally consistent with the environmental and social goals identified for each thematic component.

Overall, the Water Strategy 2030 was expected to lead to positive changes in the natural and socio-ecological environments. Potential risks are associated mostly with the planned development of water transport systems (e.g. the reconstruction of the inland waterway known as E-40), hydroelectric power, the development of centralised water supply systems and recreational activities. These risks can be mitigated or minimised through the adoption and strict application of corresponding environmental standards and mitigation measures.

The following measures were identified to reduce or prevent possible negative consequences for the environment, including some transboundary effects, during implementation of Water Strategy 2030:

  • Improve water management and ensure rational use of water resources through the use of recycled water, maintaining level regime in the area of collective water withdrawals.

  • Develop local monitoring systems for measuring changes in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

  • Develop and apply methods for classification and valuation of water-related ecosystem services.

  • Consider the vulnerability of soils to droughts, especially under changing climatic conditions, when planning measures for the protection of water resources and their rational use.

  • Develop a methodology for monitoring pollution of water bodies caused by application of fertilisers, plant protection products and other chemicals used for agricultural production.

  • Strengthen the monitoring system with assessment of ecosystem dynamics, invasive species of plants and animals, dynamics of forest areas and monitoring of hydrophilic species populations.

To minimise negative environmental consequences of planned hydroelectric power plants, particular attention should be given to protected areas, Ramsar sites, key ornithological territories and other territories and water bodies important for biodiversity conservation.

The implementing partners of EUWI+ helped the government of Belarus ensure the new strategy was aligned with relevant national legislation and planning documents. These included the Water Code and the National Strategy for Sustainable Socio-economic Development. They also sought to align the strategy with international commitments.1 The resulting draft strategy is a robust, comprehensive document, satisfying most of the criteria highlighted by a key study (Strelkovskii et al., 2019[1]) for national water strategies (Table 3.1).

Water Strategy 2030’s primary objectives echo the targets for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are noted in brackets after the relevant objective below:

  1. 1. Supply 100% of Belarus’s population with drinking water and water disposal services in line with safety standards (SDG 6.1 & SDG 6.2).

  2. 2. Improve the quality of Belarus’s water bodies (SDG 6.3).

  3. 3. Increase the efficiency of water use (SDG 6.4).

  4. 4. Implement integrated water resources management (SDG 6.5).

  5. 5. Protect Belarus’s aquatic ecosystems (SDG 6.6).

  6. 6. Exploit untapped water use potential (e.g. for water transport, HEPPs, bottled mineral water) (Minprirody, 2018[3]).

By ensuring water security, Water Strategy 2030 is a means to achieve SDG 6.

In terms of SDGs 6.1 (“By 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all”) and 6.2 (“By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation…”), Belarus has already made considerable progress. It has extended safe water and sanitation services to its population. The percentage of citizens benefiting from access to clean drinking water increased from 77.7% to 95.4% over 2000-18 (Figure 3.1). As discussed in Section 2.2.4, however, rural populations are significantly less likely to have a universal access to safe drinking water supply, water disposal and sanitation services as envisaged by SDG 6.1 and 6.2. Water Strategy 2030 recognises the particular challenges facing rural communities.

For SDGs 6.3-6.5, EUWI+, together with the government of Belarus, has supported nationalisation of the indicators for specific tasks under the goals and the development and adoption of national indicator monitoring framework for measuring progress towards these targets. “Nationalisation” refers to the definitions of indicators (or nationally adopted proxy indicators) and formation of national methodologies for calculating indicators. In the case of Belarus, these indicators are those associated with SDG targets 6.3, 6.4 and 6.5: 6.3.1, 6.3.2, 6.4.1, 6.4.2, 6.5.1 and 6.5.2. These methodologies were agreed upon with the National Statistical Committee of the Republic of Belarus and other stakeholders of the bodies of state administration and organisations. They were subsequently discussed at the meeting of the Inter-departmental Expert Group on Environmental Guidelines for Achieving Sustainable Development Goals in October 2019. They were approved by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the Republic of Belarus in November 2019. As shown in Table 3.2, indicators 6.4.2 and 6.5.1 have been fully nationalised, while the remaining indicators (and particularly 6.3.2) require further development. Table 3.3 presents the status of indicator nationalisation achieved by Belarus’s neighbouring countries.

Access to accurate, reliable datasets is a prerequisite for effective water resource management. Belarus, like many countries, always collects, manages and processes relevant datasets. However, many different institutions are involved. This makes good inter-institutional co-operation on data management essential to ensure efficient access for decision makers. An effective policy is needed to reinforce synergies by sharing roles and responsibilities between the actors for data production, management, processing and use in the water sector.

Some of the main domains requiring access to water-related data include:

  • sectoral water management (e.g. drinking water supply, irrigation, energy, health and transportation)

  • integrated water sector planning (e.g. local level, basin level, national level, transboundary basins, regional level)

  • climate change adaptation

  • disaster risk reduction (e.g. floods, water shortages, droughts)

  • reporting (e.g. global, for SDGs; regional, for EU; national)

  • specific decision making (e.g. operational management, territorial management, emergency situations)

  • other water sector activities (e.g. regulatory aspects, public information).

The EUWI + project’s work has supported implementation of integrated data management in applying the principles of the Shared Environmental Information System (Box 3.1). To this end, the EUWI+ project is supporting implementation of a platform and plan to facilitate automatic exchanges and integration of datasets produced and managed at the level of various institutions. It will do this through online “extract, transform, load” processes using new technologies (e.g. geographic web services and application programming interfaces).

River basin management planning is a holistic and integrated approach to water resource management and aquatic ecosystems. It is used to improve human health and the quality of water resources and ecosystems, as well as foster economic development and consistency between sectoral policies. The output is a non-technical, clear planning document: the river basin management plan (RBMP). It is developed with an established methodology and public participation to enhance awareness and inform decision makers. The RBMP typically contains successive chapters describing characterisation of the river basin (drivers, pressures, status, impacts); diagnosis and main issues; trends and objectives; programme of measures and dashboard (see Box 3.2).

The Dnieper is the third longest river in Europe with a length of 2 201 km and a river basin area of 504 000 km². The Dnieper river basin is a cross-border system: 20% of its territory is in the Russian Federation, 23% in Belarus and 57% in Ukraine. Two sub-basins of the Dnieper river basin are in Belarus: Dnieper and Pripyat (Figure 3.2 and Table 3.4). The Pripyat river basin is transboundary as well, with 42% of its area in Belarus and 58% in Ukraine. The Pripyat river joins the Dnieper in Ukraine, in the Kyiv reservoir. These two basin districts (upper Dnieper and Pripyat) were selected for work under EUWI+ to develop and improve RBMPs. Following these experiences, Belarus improved its regulation concerning the content of future RBMPs.

The Dnieper RBMP, which deals with the upper Dnieper basin located within the territory of Belarus, is the first one approved in Belarus. On 25 October 2018, during the first Belarus-Ukraine Forum, the second Dnieper Basin Council held in Gomel approved the Dnieper RBMP and launched the decentralised approval process. A Ukrainian delegation participated in the Basin Council, led by the deputy-president of State Agency for Water Resources of Ukraine, accompanied by the presidents of all four sub-basin authorities of Dnipro (downstream Dnieper) river basin. Oblast-level executive committees and the Minsk city executive committee approved the Dnieper RBMP on 31 December 2019.

A previous project funded by the European Union (EU), the Environmental Protection of International River Basins (EPIRB), had produced a draft of the Dnieper RBMP. The draft was further refined in the framework of EUWI+ through a new regulation concerning RBMP content published on 1 June 2017 that brought its content closer to WFD requirements.

Following these improvements, the validity period of the RBMP and implementation periods of the programme of measures were clarified. The improved plan took stock of human activities and pressures on the river basin, especially point and diffuse pollution sources. As a complementary output, a new guideline for estimating the pollution load from diffuse sources in Belarus drew on the experience of the Dnieper and Pripyat RBMPs.

The first implementation cycle of the Dnieper RBMP (2020-25) proposed 36 priority measures. It costs approximately EU 233 million, of which EUR 168 million (more than 70%) concerns the Minsk Wastewater Treatment Plan. This amount represents around 1% of the Dnieper basin’s annual gross domestic product (GDP) and less than EUR 10 per inhabitant per year. For the second implementation cycle (2025-31), the additional 27 proposed measures (EUR 26 million) represent around 0.1% of the basin’s annual GDP.

The Pripyat RBMP is closer to WFD requirements than the earlier Dnieper RBMP since it includes water bodies delineation and economic analysis, among other things. Furthermore, it expanded environmental objectives to SDGs.

The Pripyat RBMP development has delineated 636 river water bodies, 79 lakes and reservoirs and 11 groundwater bodies. Of these bodies, only 48 have relevant monitoring results. Overall, the quality of water in the basin’s water bodies is classified as “good,” but most have been heavily modified (see Section 2.3.3). The high ecological importance of Pripyat river basin (e.g. biodiversity, wetlands) is recognised through more than 6 000 km² of protected areas and the numerous areas designated under the Emerald Network.2 To safeguard the basin’s ecological wealth, the impacts of future projects must be rigorously and comprehensively studied. The Pripyat river basin abstracts 366 million m3 per year, 63% from surface water and 37% from groundwater.

Table 3.5 briefly analyses strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) to summarise the river basin diagnostic.

The Pripyat RBMP’s programme of measures will be implemented during 2021-30 for an estimated cost of EUR 456 million. This amount includes EUR 101 million for climate change adaptation, leaving EUR 355 million to improve surface bodies. Figure 3.4 shows the proposed budget breakdown. A major challenge is to organise the funding mechanisms and the financing between the national and oblast-level budgets from national and foreign sources, both public and private.

The Pripyat RBMP initiated a consultation process. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and local stakeholders have taken part in two meetings in Minsk and Gomel oblasts. The comments received helped experts improve the draft RBMP.

In 2014, the new Water Code of the Republic of Belarus established the procedure for creating basin councils and outlined the main requirements for developing RBMPs. By law, development of RBMPs for the five largest river basins was envisaged: for the Dnieper, Daugava/West Dvina, West Bug, Neman and Pripyat basins. In 2016-18, three basin councils were created (Dnieper, West Bug and Pripyat). Their members are representatives of local executive bodies from administrative units located in the basin, as well as several ministries (the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, the Ministry of Housing and Communal Services, the Ministry of Transport) and representatives of major water users, academia and civil society organisations. The draft Water Strategy 2030 foresaw the creation of two more river basin management councils for the Neman basin (by 2022) and the West Dvina/Daugava basin (by 2024) (Minprirody, 2018[3]).

UNECE and the World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe jointly service the Protocol on Water and Health. Belarus, which has been a Party to the Protocol since 2009, considers it a key instrument for international co-operation in the area of water and sanitation. Global objectives of the Protocol are to be achieved by establishing national and local target indicators under each main area covered by the Protocol (20 areas in total), along with target dates and measures required to achieve the targets. Thanks to its effective target setting and reporting mechanism well tested over the past 15 years, the Protocol is being promoted in Europe as an effective tool for achieving the SDGs on water, sanitation and water resources protection. Parties to the Protocol have the obligation to monitor progress towards the set targets and revise targets once achieved. They must also report on their implementation at the national and international level.

In November 2019, Belarus was elected as the Chair of the Bureau of the Meeting of the Parties to the Protocol.

Belarus adopted its first set of national targets and measures to achieve them in 2013. Five years later, it launched the National Policy Dialogues process under EUWI+. The country identified revision of the Protocol targets on water and sanitation in line with key regional and global policies as a priority area for support.

Following endorsement by the EUWI+ Inter-agency Steering Committee, the process started in December 2018 with a baseline analysis. This looked at the legal framework, environment and health, institutional and financial arrangements and public participation aspects. In so doing, it sought to identify priorities and needs for action and recommend establishing targets in the Protocol target-setting areas (art. 6.2 of the Protocol). This inter-sectoral analysis was carried out by the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, Ministry of Housing and Communal Services, other professionals, NGO representatives and international experts. It set the basis for 27 new targets covering 17 target areas of the Protocol. The Steering Committee discussed the draft targets and action with the measures to achieve them on several occasions. An internal inter-ministerial consultation involved the above authorities, as well as the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Emergency Situations and the National Statistics Committee (Belstat). The final set of targets (available in Russian and English) was expected to be adopted through a joint decree by the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment Protection in June 2020.

The new targets set with support of EUWI+ are aligned with the objectives and principles of the SDGs. They also reflect the EU policy goals related to prevention, safety, risk-based approaches, equity of access and attention to hygiene in institutional settings.

EUWI+ has supported Belarusian experts through capacity building in the form of technical meetings, workshops, trainings, field surveys, videoconferences and training materials. Beyond RBMP development and strengthened skills, outputs include guidelines concerning diffuse sources pollution, RBMP delineation and monitoring, which can feed into secondary legislation.

As was already mentioned in section 2.2.4 above, the Kopyl rayon in Belarus’s central Minsk oblast is predominantly rural. Due in part to its low population density, the rayon is peculiar for the involvement of non-traditional operators in its centralised water supply services. Of Kopyl rayon’s 208 settlements, only 56 have access to centralised piped water supply. Of these 56, only 26 receive their water supply exclusively from Kopyl Housing and Municipal Utilities (Копыльское ЖКХ), a communal unitary enterprise established to provide such services. Agricultural firms supply water to 27 rural settlements (4 of which are also connected to the utility company’s services). State education facilities provide water to four settlements (three in conjunction with the utility company, and one together with agricultural firms). Half of the 208 settlements in Kopyl rayon have no more than 30 residents and 58 have no more than 10. With such low population sizes, it is not economically viable to provide centralised drinking water supply (CRICUWR, 2019[13]).

Unlike Kopyl Housing and Public Utilities which supplies water as part of its business model, agricultural firms and education facilities supply water informally to local residents. Since the service is free and without contracts, there is no cost recovery. These firms and facilities also lack qualified experts. Consequently, the water supply does not benefit from oversight to ensure its suitability for human consumption, reliability of service or speed of flow. Legislation has been adopted to resolve this problem, but secondary legislation and implementation are lacking (CRICUWR, 2019[13]).

Recommendations for a future master plan on potable water supply in Koply rayon were developed with support from EUWI+ to address the challenge of potable water supply in rural settlements (Section 2.2.4 for more information on these challenges).

The status of water resources is assessed through monitoring and data. Subsequently, measures should be based on the assigned status of water bodies. To further improve water management, water use and wastewater discharge norms are described in the examples below about the most four water-intensive enterprises in Kopyl rayon:

  • Kopyl Housing and Public Utilities (Копыльское ЖКХ), a communal unitary enterprise

  • the Kopyl branch of the Slutsk Cheese Factory (ОАО Слуцкий сыродельный комбинат), an open joint-stock company

  • “Kopylskoye” (ОАО «Копыльское») and Staritsa-Agro (ОАО «Старица-Агро), agricultural open joint-stock companies that raise livestock, produce milk and cultivate crops.

These four firms were selected following an evaluation of water resources in Kopyl rayon and a resulting list of 27 water users because they alone accounted for 64% of water abstractions in Kopyl rayon in 2016 (CRICUWR, 2018[14]).

Kopyl has underdeveloped wastewater infrastructure. The main sinks for wastewater flows in the district are bodies of water, infiltration fields, earthen storage pits and cesspools. The vast majority (81.1% of wastewater) discharges directly into the environment (CRICUWR, 2018[14]).

In accordance with the Water Code, firms must develop and implement “technological” standards of water use and wastewater disposal. Water use by enterprises falls into three categories: for use directly in production; for use indirectly in the production process; and use for household and drinking water needs. EUWI+ analysed Kopyl rayon’s four largest water users and calculated normative volumes of water use for each one to help optimise water use.

For the Slutsk Cheese Factory, for example, EUWI+ calculated technological norms for water use and wastewater discharge to produce a tonne of milk. This allows the firm to plan its activities and calculate its water-use volumes. Further analysis compared the company’s production techniques to the industry’s best available techniques. It then designed measures to improve freshwater savings and reduce pollution released in wastewater by modernising local purification facilities. This reduces the burden on Kopyl city’s facilities and, as a result, on the Mazha river into which wastewaters from Kopyl town are finally discharged (CRICUWR, 2018[14]).

For Staritsa-Agro and Kopylskoe, EUWI+ established balances of water usage and discharge for each plot of land with centralised water supply and sanitation. These show the maximum volume of water the firm can extract in each plot under current conditions of water use. Exceeding this volume would qualify as irrational water use. As part of this work, recommendations were provided on water accounting, the use of artesian wells, and the preservation and rational use of water resources (CRICUWR, 2018[14]).

Kopyl Housing and Public Utilities is tasked with the provision of quality drinking water to population and firms. EUWI+ calculated the normative losses and unaccounted-for water consumption from systems of water supply, as well as norms for technological water consumption. The standard losses and unaccounted-for water consumption in general for the city of Kopyl and other settlements in Kopyl rayon amounted to 47.18% (38.56% in Kopyl city, 63.85% in other settlements) (CRICUWR, 2018[14]).

These high figures are largely due to the age and composition of the distribution network. Most of the water supply networks in Kopyl rayon are old (69% are at least 20-years-old), particularly in the city of Kopyl (86% of its network is at least 20-years-old), making them susceptible to leaks (Figure 3.5). Another contributing factor to the high loss rates through leakage is the prevalence of cast iron pipes. These pipes have twice the standard leak rate (2.4 litre/minute per km) as steel pipes (1.2 litre/minute per km). The leak rate is much higher than with polyethylene pipes. In all, 79.1% of Kopyl city’s pipes are cast iron, while polyethylene (18.65%) and steel (2.25%) make up the remainder. In other settlements, cast iron (47.22%) and polyethylene (46.34%) are nearly equally common, with steel accounting for the remaining 6.44% (CRICUWR, 2019[13]). The phased replacement of deteriorated parts/segments of the Kopyl rayon’s water distribution network could help reduce loss rates and increase efficiency of water use.

Redundant infrastructure may have potential to increase strategic storage of water at times of plenty and support water demand in low flow periods during growing seasons. Given its seasonal water shortages and the significance of agriculture to the local economy, Gomel oblast was identified as a pilot region that might benefit from the rehabilitation of irrigation infrastructure. This exercise would aim to support water security objectives and increase agricultural productivity. In 2020, EUWI+ supported an assessment of the economic feasibility and water security impacts and trade-offs of rehabilitating or adapting the region’s irrigation infrastructure. In parallel, discussions on changing land use for agricultural and general purposes in response to the impact of changing climate conditions on water resources will inform the policy debate.

EUWI+ developed sub-basin management plans to solve local issues identified during Dnieper RBMP refinement (Section A sub-basin management plan is a tool to implement a programme of measures. This activity is organised at a hydrographic scale closer to the field and local issues. It is consistent with the RBMP as a nested process. EUWI+ supported the development of two sub-basin management plans i/n Dnieper river basin; in the Uza river basin; and for the urban watercourses in the town of Mogilev to improve their ecological status.

A sub-basin management plan includes the characterisation of the sub-basins through specific monitoring, field surveys (in accordance with EUWI+ trainings), census, diagnosis, objectives, programme of measures with costs and planning, and results of consultations with local stakeholders.

Uza is a small river in Gomel oblast and a tributary of Sozh river. The length of the river is 76 km and its catchment area is 944 km². Uza sub-basin is in the territory of Gomel, Buda-Koshelevo and Vetka rayons (administrative districts). The hydrographic network of Uza river contains the following watercourses: Zhurbitsa, Khochemlya, Belichanka, Ivolka and Randovka rivers; Rogovskoi, Milchanskiyi and Krasnaya canals; and a number of drainage canals. The river valley of Uza river has a width from 600-800 m; the width of the river channel is only 5-8 m upstream. Up to 15 m downstream, annual discharge in the mouth is 3.4 m3/s.

In recent years, the ecological status of the Uza river and its downstream tributaries has been classified as “bad” (4th class). The main reason for this classification is the substantial impact of Gomel, the second largest city in the country, on the watershed area, the watercourse and its tributaries. Many local industries including Gomelvodokanal (a water utility) discharge significant amounts of wastewater, while the city’s territory is a large source of diffuse pollution (e.g. transported by storm waters).

Therefore, Uza river is considered as one of the most polluted in the upper Dnieper river basin, as well as in Belarus.. As Uza river flows into the transboundary Sozh river, restoration and enhancement of ecological status of Uza river and its tributaries is a priority for Dnieper RBMP implementation in Belarus.

In recent decades, with rainfall intensification during the summer, Mogilev – the third largest city of Belarus after Minsk and Gomel - has regularly experienced submergence. When developing a rainwater collection network for new facilities, designers do not organise a separate release of surface wastewater into a water body. Instead, they seek to connect to the existing rainwater drainage network to avoid the need to build wastewater treatment plants. In the situation of active new housing construction in the city and reducing the size of watershed area with permeable subsoil, this practice aggravates the submergence problems.

There are a number of small water courses in the city of Mogilev: Dubrovenka river with its tributaries Strushnya and Kazimirovsky streams; and Debrya river. They receive significant discharges of untreated surface wastewater from the city (there are more than 60 outfalls of rainwater sewers). Both the volumes and quality of the discharges impact the environmental status of the river segment located within the city’s territory.

The ecological status of Debrya stream was assessed in 2016/17 as “very bad”. The environmental status of the aforementioned watercourses and the state of the rain drainage network in the catchments of small watercourses of Mogilev should be assessed, and main sources of water pollution identified. Key challenges related to the rainwater sewage network in the city and a set of measures to reduce the impact on watercourses should be identified. This work will help achieve a greater level of protection of small watercourses in Mogilev and then reduce the anthropogenic effects on the Dnieper river.

As of September 2020, sub-basin management plans were still in development.

Belarus attaches considerable importance to enhancing transboundary water co-operation with neighbouring states. Within the country workplan of Belarus under the EUWI+, UNECE facilitated activities on transboundary water co-operation with Latvia and Lithuania.

In January 2018, with the support of the EUWI+ project, Belarus and Latvia delegations met to prepare an agreement on the protection and use of transboundary waters in the West Dvina/Daugava basin. The two countries considered further options in later communication. Belarus and Latvia were expected to sign an inter-agency agreement on the transboundary West Dvina/Daugava basin by the end of 2020.

Under EUWI+, with support of the EU, UNECE also facilitated the continuation of technical co-operation between Belarus and Lithuania in the Neman river basin. The Belarus-Lithuania expert group on enhancing bilateral co-operation in the Neman river basin held a third meeting in Minsk on 15 May 2018. It involved the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of Belarus, Ministry of Environment of Lithuania and other concerned stakeholders. The meeting completed the final report of the second phase of the elaboration of the priority components of the joint RBMP for the Neman basin to enhance transboundary co-operation. The findings and data of the report, in turn, laid a solid foundation for completion of a joint RBMP for the Neman basin. This could happen within an upcoming Global Environment Facility project, expected to start by the end of 2020.

In another important achievement, Belarus signed an intergovernmental agreement on transboundary water protection with Poland on 7 February 2020. Once ratified by both Parties, the agreement foresees the establishment of a joint body, which will oversee implementation.


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[4] Belstat (2019), С.5. Вода, поставляемая отраслью водоснабжения, и доступ населения к этой воде [C.5. Water Provided by the Water Supply Industry and Access of the Population to that Water], (database), https://www.belstat.gov.by/ofitsialnaya-statistika/makroekonomika-i-okruzhayushchaya-sreda/okruzhayuschaya-sreda/sovmestnaya-sistema-ekologicheskoi-informatsii2/c-vodnye-resursy/s-5-voda-postavlyaemaya-otraslyu-vodosnabzheniya-i-dostup-naseleniya-k-etoi-v

[5] Belstat (2019), С.6. Доступ населения к централизованному водоснабжению [C.6. Access of the Population to Centralised Water Supply], (database), https://www.belstat.gov.by/ofitsialnaya-statistika/makroekonomika-i-okruzhayushchaya-sreda/okruzhayuschaya-sreda/sovmestnaya-sistema-ekologicheskoi-informatsii2/c-vodnye-resursy/s-6-dostup-naseleniya-k-tsentralizovannomu-vodosnabzheniyu/

[12] CRICUWR (2019), Государственный водный кадастр: Водные ресурсы, их использование и качество вод (за 2018 год) [State Water Cadastre: Water Resources, Their Use and Water Quality (in 2018)], Central Research Institute for Complex Use of Water Resources, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the Republic of Belarus, Minsk.

[13] CRICUWR (2019), Разработка рекомендаций по развитию систем хозяйственно-питьевого водоснабжения в Копыльском районе Минской области Беларуси [Elaboration of Recommendations on the Development of Domestic Drinking Water Supply], Central Research Institute for Complex Use of Water Resources, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the Republic of Belarus, Minsk.

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[7] CRICUWR (2018), Помощь правительству Беларуси в национализации индикаторов для мониторинга прогресса в реализации SDG 6.3 – 6.5 [Assistance to the Government of Belarus in the Nationalisation of Indicators for the Monitoring of Progress Towards Achieving SDG 6.3-6.5], Dubianok, S (ed.), Central Research Institute for Complex Use of Water Resources, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the Republic of Belarus, Minsk.

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[15] EUWI+ (2018), Infographics: River Basin Management Plan (Инфографики: план управления речными бассейнами), https://www.euwipluseast.eu/en/component/k2/item/430-infographics-river-basin-management-plan-en?fromsearch=1 (accessed on 10 августа 2020 г.).

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[9] Pegram, G. et al. (2013), River Basin Planning: Principles, Procedures and Approaches for Strategic Basin Planning, UNESCO, Paris, https://www.gwp.org/globalassets/global/toolbox/references/river-basin-planning.pdf.

[1] Strelkovskii, N. et al. (2019), Navigating through Deep Waters of Uncertainty: Systems Analysis Approach to Strategic Planning of Water Resources and Water Infrastructure under High Uncertainties and Conflicting Interests, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria and OECD Publishing, Paris.


← 1. Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement, the Water Convention, the Protocol on Water and Health (in support of implementation and monitoring of SDG 6.1, 6.2, 6.3 and 3.9), Espoo Convention, the SEA Protocol, EU directives on strategic environmental assessment and environmental impact assessment, and relevant bilateral agreements on transboundary water bodies.

← 2. The Emerald Network of Areas of Special Conservation Interest is a set of protected nature sites established through the Council of Europe’s Bern Convention to conserve biodiversity. For more information, see www.coe.int/en/web/bern-convention/emerald-network.

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