Regional Cooperation within the Sava Commission for Sustainable Development of B&H – Conclusion

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Author: MSc Biljana Savić, Senior Associate, Main bank of RS, Central bank of B&H, e-mail: bsavic@bl.cbbh.ba

this is the concluding part of the series; see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

Concluding Remarks

The Sava River Basin represents a major drainage basin in the South Eastern Europe and one of the most important sub-basins in the Danube River Basin, with a high potential for development activities such as the waterway transport, tourism and recreation. The Sava River represents a unique ecosystem with high a biodiversity providing habitat for the most diverse fauna and flora. In the Sava River Basin occur 167 protected area including Natura 2000 sites and six Wetlands of International Importance, so-called Ramsar Sites. Wetlands provide a vast array of ecosystem services that contribute to human well-being and play an important role in the regulation of global climate change and in the diminishing the destructive nature of flooding. At the same time, wetlands offer a wide range of opportunities for tourism and recreation that could generate considerable income. As defined by the Ramsar Convention, wise use of wetlands involves

their sustainable utilization for the benefit of the humankind in a way compatible with the maintenance of the natural properties of the ecosystem.1

The conservation and management of inland wetlands requires arrangements for integrated river basin-scale management.

Once the biggest river of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, after the great political, economic and social changes that have taken place in this region, the Sava has become international river which connects a new countries on its way from its origin in Slovenia to the Danube in Serbia. The Stability Pact for South–Eastern Europe provided a basis for the creation of a new integrated approach to the water resources management in the Sava River Basin. Taking into the account the significance of the Sava River as a backbone of cooperation, the Sava countries have concluded a Framework agreement for an integrated approach to water resources management in the Sava River Basin. The agreement is being implemented by Republic of Slovenia, Republic of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republic of Serbia. Montenegro is expected to become the Party to the FASRB in due time. The trans-boundary cooperation under the FASRB is built on basis of principles of equal rights, territorial integrity, State sovereignty, ”No-harm” rule, mutual respect of national legislation, organizations and institutions and reduction of the transboundary impacts caused by economic and other activities of the Parties. Therefore, this agreement serves as an instrument of common regional stability in the Sava River Basin in economic and in political terms.

The FASRB represents the first development-oriented multilateral agreement concluded in the region in the post-conflict period after the Dayton Peace Agreement and the Agreement on Succession. This is the unique international agreement, which integrates all aspects of water resource management such as rehabilitation and development of navigation, flood protection, utilization of potentials for tourism and recreation development as well as energy production and maintenance of water quality and quantity. The FASRB involves the whole water resources management linking the navigation development and the environmental protection. Implementation of the Agreement is faced with many difficulties, such as different level of economic development and organizational structures in the decision making process of the countries, lack of harmonization of the legislation with EU acquis communautaire and lack of appropriate institutional arrangements, and especially lack of human and financial resources as well as the provision of funds for priority projects2

For the implementation of the FASRB, the International Sava River Commission has been established as the joint institution with international legal capacity necessary for the exercise of its functions. The ISRBC is a relevant body in the Danube Region and it has involved in the process of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region. Bearing in mind that the main objectives of the Danube Strategy and the FASRB are the same, sustainable development of the region, therefore the implementation of the projects related to the FASRB could contribute to the implementation of the EU Danube Strategy as well. Potential impact of the cooperation under Framework Agreement extends beyond the Sava River Basin and it could become a raw model for the other international river basin in the region.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is faced with numerous challenges especially the challenges of high rate of unemployment, excessive public spending, the sustainability of current account deficit, slow forming of authorities and weak innovation potential that threaten the prospects of growth and its stability. Moreover, B&H needs to strengthen its environmental protection institutions and to integrate environmental concerns in other sectors and to raise both individual and society environmental awareness. Therefore, the regional cooperation within the framework of the Sava Commission for the B&H is very important. It could speed up the ecologization of the country and facilitate its EU accession. By unlocking the growth potential within the basin, the trans-boundary linkage could contribute to increase know-how and experience transfer, increase of competitiveness of the region, and in the attractiveness for the foreign direct investments. It may be concluded that the regional cooperation under framework of the Sava Commission could contribute to the sustainable development of Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as of the Sava River Basin Area.

Bridge over Sava at Brčko

Acronyms and abbreviations

AL Albania
BA Bosnia and Herzegovina
EC European Commission
EU European Union
EUSDR EU Strategy for the Danube Region
FASRB Framework Agreement on the Sava River Basin
GIS Geographical Information System
HR Croatia
ICPDR International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River
ME Montenegro
RBM River Basin Management
RIS River Information Services
RS Serbia
SI Slovenia
UNECE United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
WANDA Waste Management for Inland Navigation on the Danube
WFD Water Framework Directive

References

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  1. Ramsar COP3, 1987, Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, Ecosystem and Human Well-Being: Wetlands and Water Synthesis,World Resources Institute, Washington, DC, 2005. p. V 

  2. Komatina Dejan, Integrated Water Resources Management as a Basis for Sustainable Development – The Case of the Sava River Basin, Current Issues of Water Management, Uli Uhlig (Ed.), ISBN: 978-953-307-413-9, InTech, 2011, p. 39. 

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