10th anniversary of the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Sava River Basin

Press release

The Framework Agreement on the Sava River Basin (FASRB), signed on December 3, 2002, at Kranjska Gora (Slovenia), represents the first multiraleral, development-oriented agreement in the region, concluded after the Dayton Peace Agreement and Agreement on Succession. The FASRB provides the framework for cooperation of the Sava countries in the water sector, with the aim to produce conditions for sustainable development of the region within the Sava river basin.

Following the entering of the FASRB into force at the end of 2004, the implementation process officially started by the formation of the International Sava River Basin Commission (ISRBC) in June 2005 for coordination of the FASRB implementation and the establishment of the ISRBC Secretariat in January 2006.

In the past period, the FASRB has proven to be a good regional platform for intensified contacts and an improved cooperation among the Parties, providing opportunities for exchange of experiences and an additional training of the experts, for implementation of mutually agreed, regional projects, for harmonization of national legislation, methodologies and procedures, as well as for an improved inter-sectoral cooperation, especially among the competent authorities, within the Parties.

The FASRB is characterized by an integrated nature, which provides the ISRBC with the broadest scope of work among all international river or lake commissions in Europe, dealing both with the aspects of water and aquatic ecosystem protection, protection against harmful effects of water and the development of economic activities, such as navigation and river tourism. A great attention is paid to transparency of the process, through the involvement of a wide range of stakeholders from all sectors (governmental, non-governmental, academic and business) and through the enrichment of the “top-down” approach by a permanent strengthening of the “bottom-up” component. The actvities on the FASRB implementation are fully in accordance with relevant EU directives, UNECE conventions, as well as the EU Strategy for the Danube Region and the EU 2020 Strategy. The FASRB implementation, as a sub-regional process, enables more detailed analyses and the results complementary to those obtained from the regional process ongoing on the Danube basin level. The approach to the FASRB implementation is, also, pragmatic and practical, aiming to ensure concrete, useful products for the Parties (navigation and tourism infrastructure, strategic plans, information systems, data exchange systems, forecasting and early warning systems, etc.).

Since the beginning until now, the system of the FASRB implementation has reached a high degree of functionality, and the ISRBC has become a stable mechanism, identified in the Sava countries, and in a wider environment, as an efficient organization, a reliable partner and the coordinator of activities of a growing number of the activities of the Parties on the FASRB implementation. Although the project management is not its basic role, the existence and work of the ISRBC have also proven to be a successful way to implement a wide spectrum of projects in the water sector. So far, the amount of 12.55 million Euro has been ensured for implementation of the projects, 16% of which are contributions of the countries, and the rest 84% have come from external sources. It is likely that percentage of the externally funded projects will further increase in future, given the fact that practically all priority projects of the ISRBC have been granted a label or letter of recommendation of the EU Danube Strategy, which is encouraging from the viewpoint of the future implementation of projects.

During the FASRB implementation process, obstacles and difficulties have been identified, as well. These are primarily associated with a lack of human and financial resources of the Parties, ensuring funds for implementation of the priority projects, limited access to basic data needed for preparation of studies of common interest under the umbrella of the ISRBC, as well as lack of appropriate institutional arrangements and, in some countries, lack of harmonization of the legislation with the EU acquis. Additonally, it seems that the progress in the field of water management, where requirements toward the Parties are based on recommendations and conclusions of the ISRBC (unlike the ISRBC decisions in the field of navigation), is partly affected by a different perception of the requirements by the competent authorities of the Parties.

Today, 10 years after the signing of the FASRB, results of the regional cooperation are visible. Based on the experience gained in the process, the new Strategy on Implementation of the FASRB and the accompanying Action Plan for the Period 2011-2015 foresee concrete steps to overcome the obstacles, and thus are expected with optimism to enable, based on the remarkable achievements made so far, an efficient implementation of the FASRB in future years, as well.
For further information please contact:
Secretariat of the International Sava River Basin Commission
Tel. + 385 1 488 6960
E-mail: isrbc@savacommission.org