Strategic Program for the Nistru River for 2021-2035 contains many omissions, IPP analyst

The Strategic Action Program for the Nistru River Basin for 2021-2035 was signed in a hurry as this contains omissions and inconsistencies that will cost Moldova a high social and economic price if the slips are not put right in the near future, said Ion Efros, associated energy, climate and environmental policy analyst of the Institute for Public Policy (IPP). 

In a news conference at IPN, the expert said the signing of such a document should be a good lesson for the Moldovan diplomatic service and for the Government as to how such a program should be negotiated and validated, taking into account the importance of the Nistru for the Republic of Moldova. “Metaphorically speaking, the Nistru represents the backbone of the Republic of Moldova, which is now not an ecological, but a national security issue. The importance of the given Program is at least similar to that of the Agreement on the Functioning of the Nistru Hydropower Complex that has been negotiated for many years.

Ion Efros said the Program was signed on March 31, 2021. Even if such a program was necessary as it represents an ordinary practice in the management of hydrographic basins at European level, especially after Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy was adopted, the Moldovan authorities allowed a number of omissions. The program focuses on one international project, of GEF/OSCE, and eliminates practically any other analytical input on the part of relevant international projects implemented in parallel. The European Directives included in the program were added formally, selectively and insufficiently for fully covering the water bodies and the ecosystems on which these depend.

Also, Ukraine’s commitments concerning afforestation are not proportional to those of Moldova. Ukraine’s commitment to cooperate and exchange relevant hydraulic information, provided by the Moldovan side on time and to the necessary extent, is absent, while investments in green infrastructure are not clearly stipulated in the program, while the damage compensation mechanisms are fully absent.

“If they are not removed swiftly, these limitations will only compromise this program from the very beginning. This will no way stop the continuous degradation of surface water, groundwater, biodiversity, ecosystems and communities from the Nistru River Basin until 2035, as the Program aims to do,” stated the expert. According to him, the period until 2035 is rather long for such programs that usually cover a period of five years.

The program authors used the conclusions of the Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis for Nistru River that was carried out by OSCE in 2017 - 2020. Ion Efros reminded that a number of projects were implemented in the Nistru River Basin, but these weren’t taken into account in the analyzed documents. Besides the Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis and a small component of this that centered on the impact of associated accumulation lakes and hydropower stations on the Nistru, financed by GEF and implemented by OSCE, there were conducted two more studies that focused exclusively on his subject: the Nistru Hydropower Complex Social and Environmental Impact Study, implemented by UNDP Moldova with the support of the Government of Sweden, and the HydroEcoNex project implemented by a consortium of four academic and research institutions of Ukraine, Moldova and Romania within the EU-funded Black Sea Cross Border Cooperation Project.

The neglecting of these projects favored Ukraine and disfavored Moldova when agreeing the final version of the Strategic Action Program for the Nistru River Basin for 2021-2035, considers Ion Efros.

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