Transboundary Water Management in the Western Balkans: Challenges of the Land-Water Nexus in the Drin River Basin
Annual Review of Territorial Governance in the Western Balkans, II, 2020, 118-139 Journal
Francesca Vanelli, Besmira Dyca, Paul Rabé
Water basins experience huge pressure from urban growth, tourism, energy, and food demands, exacerbated by the pressing challenges of climate change. The competition for limited resources calls for efforts from riparian countries to define criteria for transboundary water management (TWM) to contribute to resilient environments. This paper explores the efficacy of TWM policies with respect to the Drin River basin in the Western Balkans, focusing on the Albanian territorial coverage of this basin area. To assess water governance effectiveness and efficiency, the paper uses the OECD’s water governance indicator framework (2018). More broadly, it applies a ‘land-water nexus’ frame to assess the extent to which relevant landbased activities are included and effectively monitored in the Drin River TWM. A healthy and resilient river basin environment depends not only on good water governance but also on appropriate land uses and land development policies in the basin. Data was collected through desk research, supported by interviews with key stakeholders. The paper explores the Drin River TWM agreements based on: i) existing transboundary and national legal frameworks; ii) institutional and financial capacities for data collection and enforcement; and iii) the presence of a land-water nexus vision to support TWM. Research findings point towards the need to understand policy gaps between riparian countries and to develop an integrated cross-sectoral framework for resource management, such as a River Basin Management Plan, as the basis for a better land-water nexus and more sustainable and resilient development. Lastly, the authors present policy-oriented conclusions and recommendations at the transboundary, national, and local levels, focused on institutional, financial, and informational gaps.