Volga Vocation: Today’s Problems, Tomorrow’s Challenges

Challenges and obstacles in the Volga Basin’s development are reviewed in a new report published February 2007 under the auspices of the CABRI-Volga project. Prepared by Wageningen University of the Netherlands in collaboration with the Cadastre Institute of Yaroslavl, Russia, this latest release builds on a wealth of data gathered mainly during the project’s second expert group forum of water management experts in Kazan in April 2006.

It reveals that the three major obstacles to achieving sustainable development within the Volga basin are: i) poor water quality; ii) weak basin management; and iii) low public awareness and participation in decisionmaking processes. The challenge in overcoming these is compounded by external “drivers” and “constraints,” such as the pace of economic development and globalisation, climate change, technological innovation, political and social processes.

A wealth of strategic responses are put forward that draw on the insights of the consulted experts. Recommendations range from changes in taxation for water use and wastewater discharge, to implementation of environmental regulation at the municipal level. In ensuring civil society involvement in river basin management, unification of the monitoring system, enhancing public access to and pro-active dissemination of information by the state are advocated.

The authors conclude by suggesting the development of enforceable water pollution standards, alongside the more effective enforcement of the “polluter-pays” principle. This would generate funds that could be channelled back into improving water quality.

Packed with additional information on the Volga basin’s environment and socio-economical situation concerning water usage, flood risk, freight transport and the respective institutional and governance frameworks, the report is now available for download at: http://cabri-volga.org/publications.html..

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