Danube Watch 1/2020 - Presidency 2020

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Presidency 2020: Cooperation, Collaboration and New Perspectives in Times of Crisis

Moldova has taken over the ICPDR Presidency for 2020 only to be immediately met with the COVID-19 crisis and the need to completely alter the way in which the ICPDR operates on a daily basis. Luckily, one of the goals of this presidency is to pursue deeper cooperation and new approaches, especially to looming future crises like the effects of climate change.

Danube Watch: Welcome to the ICPDR from Danube Watch! How does it feel to be stepping into the role of President?
It is a great honour, pleasure and responsibility to step into the role of President. During the previous Moldovan presidency, implementation of the Water Framework Directive was in its initial stages and there was a long time until the 1st Danube River Basin District Management Plan. Since then, through the joint efforts of the ICPDR, all Danube countries, the EU and funding organisations, a great step forward was made. Currently, the ICPDR is facing a lot of new challenging tasks - implying stronger consolidation and cooperation. Hopefully, in the position of President, I will contribute to the strengthening of these processes with the aim of achieving our common goals including the integration of water and environmental policy into other policy areas, particularly agriculture.

Danube Watch: You have a wealth of experience that you are bringing to the ICPDR as its new President, what specific experiences do you think will help you most to achieve the goals you have set for your presidency?
I graduated from the Academy of Economic Studies and International Management Institute in Moldova, and have also gained additional professional knowledge in the fields of environment, public policy and regional development. Before taking over the position of the State Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Regional Development and Environment, I worked as State Secretary of the Ministry of Regional Development and Construction and as Head of the Directorate of Political and Regional Cooperation. In addition, I have consulted on the development of the national adaptation process to climate change and the improvement of regional statistics, among others. I also earned a Master’s degree in European policies and public administration.

My past experience in the field of regional development and environment, plus my understanding when it comes to facing challenges, gives me the hope that we will successfully overcome some during my presidency. I also hope this experience will allow us to outline new perspectives to achieve the further goals of improving the state of our environment and water, and enhance the resilience of the Danube countries’ population against current and future climate change impacts.

Danube Watch: One of the many goals of your presidency is to increase cooperation and collaboration between ICPDR members with an increased focus on non-EU member states. What do you see as concrete examples of how to achieve this?
These would be the successful implementation of the 2015 Danube River Management Plan; the joint elaboration of the 2021 Danube River Basin Management plans and other strategic documents, which undoubtedly contribute to the strengthening of national capacity building; technical and financial support in the development and implementation of the national river basin management plans, other projects aimed at improving trans-national cooperation - particularly, in flood risk and drought management -, providing and guiding know-how, as well as the application of innovative technologies, analytical methods, laboratory skill, etc.

Danube Watch: Another aim of your presidency is to further develop a response to water-scarcity due to droughts within the region. What initiatives and/or steps would you like to see taken during your time as president?
Among the initiatives, I would like to mention the elaboration of a Danube-wide water-balance paper that can significantly contribute to the development of national and trans-national Drought Management Plans, the promotion of strengthening cooperation between national and local water authorities, the development of relevant water profiles and broad public involvement in the discussion of climate change impacts and their consequences. Public awareness and involvement is extremely important because the effects of climate change are often experienced more intensely on a local scale. Risks and uncertainties create challenges to people’s livelihoods and local development progress, and respectively, require a mix of top-down and bottom-up approaches, recognising that much of the implementation of adaptation occurs at the local level. In addition, there is a strong need for the practical implementation of structural adaptation measures to properly respond to water related adaptation challenges to ensure population and ecosystems health and sustainable socio-economic development. I would also like to see further implementation of the ground water management measures to enhance resilience to the climate change risks.

Danube Watch: You have stated that securing more investments for key ICPDR projects is vital and that strengthening cooperation between the ICPDR and financial institutions could be an important way to do this. What, if any, challenges do you foresee in fostering such cooperation?
In the current conditions of a continuing pandemic, to be followed by setting investment priorities other than those related to water, e.g. overcoming of economic crisis, recovering and strengthening of health systems, recovery for small and medium business, etc., it is extremely important to continuously promote the importance of water issues in front of funding organisations and it is a strong necessity to support their solution as water issues are fundamental for meeting environmental, social and economic goals. Therefore, raising both available financial instruments from the EU and other funding institutions, and ensuring better alignment of funds to be used for the implementation needs of the Danube countries – in particular non-EU member states – seem to be among the main challenges in ensuring the implementation of the Water Framework Directive throughout the Danube Basin, as well as Danube River Basin Management Plan and national river basin management plans.

Danube Watch: Finally, what do you hope to have achieved by the end of your Presidency?
I like to hope that by the end of my presidency, water governance and, particularly, the state of the water in the Danube Basin will have been improved, the first draft of the 3rd Danube River Basin District Management Plan will have been completed and we will then move forward on solutions to other significant water management issues.

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