Joint Commitment in Tisza River Basin - Good Water Quality for all Tisza Countries

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Uzhgorod, 11 April 2011. The five Tisza River Basin countries Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine entered a new stage in joint water management to ensure good water quality. In the course of a Ministerial Meeting held in Uzhgorod (Ukraine), a management plan was signed that commits the five countries to further cooperation in their efforts to protect the valuable environment of the basin. What used to be a matter of individual countries is now an international endeavour.

A river running through a body of water

The ministers and high-level representatives signed a Memorandum of Understanding and endorsed the implementation of the Integrated Tisza River Basin Management Plan (ITRBM Plan), which has been proposed in full compliance with the EU Water Framework Directive.

This is important, as Hungary, Romania and Slovakia are EU member states, whereas Serbia and Ukraine are not. Pollution, however, does not stop at borders – an internationally orchestrated management of the Tisza River Basin is therefore crucial for ensuring good water quality.

The Tisza cooperation is also an important flagship project for the EU Danube Strategy. It will help to tie the entire region into this set of measures and policies, dedicated to sustainable development in the entire Danube River Basin.

The Tisza River Basin and the Tisza Group

The Tisza River is the longest tributary of the Danube. Its basin is the largest sub-basin of the Danube Basin and the home to 14 million people in five countries. It is an area rich in biodiversity, providing habitats for many species no longer found in other parts of Europe. Many areas of the region, including nature reserves and national parks, are important ecological assets.

The Tisza Group comprises of the five Tisza Basin countries: Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine. It was created under the umbrella of the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR) to prepare and coordinate all activities for the preparation of the ITRBM Plan. All countries of the Tisza Group are also contracting parties of ICPDR, which hosts the Ministerial Meeting under its current Ukrainian presidency. Since 1998, the ICPDR has played a key-role as a platform to coordinate international responses to environmental pressures. The development of the ITRBMP was supported by a three-year UNDP/GEF project to encourage improved land and water management throughout the Tisza River Basin. This followed a UNDP and GEF tradition to support the countries of the wider Danube River Basin that lasts for more than 20 years.


“… experts have been heavily involved in data collection and its analytical processing, needed for the preparation of the Integrated Tisza River Basin Management Plan. This work has been shared among experts from the Tisza countries – the Slovak Republic, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Ukraine – all participating fairly in multilateral international cooperation.”

Mykola Melenevskyi, ICPDR President 2011 on the international efforts that allowed the Tisza River Basin Management Plan to be developed over the course of several years.

“The Tisza cooperation is important for the entire region, as it will become a flagship project for the EU Danube Strategy. This strategy will set the framework for developments in the Danube River Basin, and the Tisza countries now take the opportunity to act at its forefront. The Tisza cooperation carries EU policies and funding beyond the borders of the EU, to the benefit of all countries involved.”

Philip Weller, ICPDR Executive Secretary on the importance of the Tisza cooperation in the light of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region, which will be adopted this summer

The Integrated Tisza River Basin Management Plan

The ITRBM Plan includes an analysis that outlines the pressures from pollution, river engineering works, floods and droughts. Furthermore, it gives an overview of the status waters and identifies the measures needed to be implemented to reach the objectives of the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) by 2015. Serbia and Ukraine, which are not EU member states, have committed themselves voluntarily to comply with the targets set by the WFD.

The principles of Integrated Water Resources Management promote the coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources. The aim is to maximise the economic and social welfare without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems.

Water quantity management, such as flood and drought protection or climate change adaptation strategies, and development processes such as land use management, have a crucial role in reaching good water quality and quantity.