Tisza Basin Cooperation


Article in Danube Watch 02/2006

Danube Watch 2 2006

Tisza Basin Cooperation

Five states share territory in the largest sub-basin of the Danube River Basin, and they are finding that success in addressing regional problems comes through sub-basin cooperation.

a tree next to a body of water

The Szamos River is one of the tributaries of the Tisza River Basin, which drains an area of 157,186 square kilometres and is the largest sub-basin in the Danube River Basin.

Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovakia and Ukraine share not just the beauties of the Tisza, but also the problems relating to water supply, severe flooding, droughts, landslides and erosion in the uplands, and pollution from agriculture as well as accidental pollution from mining activities.

There is a relatively long history of cooperation in the Tisza River Basin. Older treaties dealing with specific issues of transboundary cooperation have formed the basis for the transboundary water agreements in place today.

International focus on sub-basin cooperation and attention on the Tisza River Basin as a whole has increased since 2000, after heavy floods and pollution events in the basin, as well as the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive. Shortly thereafter the Tisza Water Forum was established by the Budapest Ministerial Declaration in 2001 to harmonise national flood control programmes and led to the development of the Tisza River Basin Flood Control Concept.


Project title: Establishment of Mechanisms for Integrated Land and Water Management in the Tisza River Basin
Countries: Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro Slovakia, Ukraine
Partners: UNDP, national governments, EU, UNEP, ICPDR
Duration: 36 months
Start date: Mid 2006 (planned)
Objective: This project will address the issues of flooding, pollution, loss of biodiversity, adaptation to climate change, and the need for sustainable development in the Tisza River Basin. A major product will be the development of a regionally owned Integrated Tisza River Basin Management Programme.
The project will be closely linked to the activities of ICPDR ad hoc Tisza Group.

The guidance of the ICPDR. Recently the ICPDR has taken an active role in sub-basin planning – supporting and encouraging the processes and assisting in stakeholder involvement as well as providing additional information to local and regional planners. At the first Ministerial Meeting of the ICPDR, held in December 2004, ministers and high-level representatives of the five Tisza countries signed the Memorandum of Understanding on International Integrated Tisza River Basin Coordination Development. At the same time the ICPDR established the Tisza Group for coordination. The Tisza Group is a platform for strengthening coordination and the exchange of information related to international and regional activities in the Tisza River Basin to ensure harmonisation and effectiveness.

The Tisza countries currently face the challenge of producing a sub-basin-level Tisza River Basin Management Plan by 2009 to meet requirements of the EU Water Framework Directive. The first step towards this objective is the preparation by 2007 of the Tisza Analysis Report – including an overall characterisation of the basin, an analysis of anthropogenic pressures and impacts, and flood risk mapping.

Recent events such as the floods this spring stress the necessity of a common understanding and emphasise the importance of the Tisza Sub-basin initiative – supporting strengthened flood protection and environmental safety in the region.


Project title: Transboundary River Basin Management of the Körös/ Crisuri River
Countries: Hungary, Romania
Duration: 36 months
Start date: Mid 2005
Objective: This project will support Hungary and Romania in the process of developing a River Basin Management Plan, which will address issues like sustainable development and integrated management of natural resources, flooding as well as water pollution. The project is closely linked to the objectives and activities of the ICPDR RBM EG and to the ad hoc Tisza Expert Group.

The Tisza Analysis Report, the first step towards producing the Tisza Basin Management Plan, will include a map of the sub-basin. Click here to see the Tisza River Basin Map.

Diana Heilmann is an environmental management and agricultural engineer working as an intern at the ICPDR, contributing to the work of the Tisza Group.