Saving the Black Sea
Official Newsletter of the Black Sea Environmental Programme
A joint Initiative by the Black Sea Commission and its Partners   UNDP - GEF and  TACIS
  
Issue 7 October 2002

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The beauty of the Black Sea and its coast: shall we destroy it or make every effort to save it for future generations

Editorial

This year marks two important 10th anniversaries -- adoption of the Rio Declaration and Agenda 21 at the World Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and the signing of the Convention on the Protection of the Black Sea against Pollution (also known as the Bucharest Convention) by the six Black Sea coastal states in Bucharest, on 21 April 1992. The Bucharest Convention includes a provision to establish the Black Sea Commission to promote implementation of the Convention. The Commission is to be assisted by a permanent Secretariat, located in Istanbul.

In the decade since then, worldwide awareness of the ecological problems of the Black Sea has grown significantly. The commitment of governments, international institutions, and non-governmental organisations to do something about these issues has also been growing, with the aim of reversing the Black Sea's environmental decline.

A year after the legal commitment made in Bucharest in 1992, there was a call for common policy action through the Odessa Ministerial Declaration. Initial support from the international community came through a project funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). This assisted the coastal states and the NGO community in developing regional-based action plans and capacities for better managing the Black Sea environment. The Trans-boundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA) carried out under the GEF project led to development of the Black Sea Strategic Action Plan (BS-SAP) adopted by the six coastal states in Istanbul in 1996.

The regional initiative was strengthened through a series of European Union and other donor interventions. The efforts of the countries of the region and the international community for implementing the Bucharest Convention, Odessa Declaration, and the BS-SAP were coordinated within a loose framework, termed since its launch in 1993, as the Black Sea Environmental Programme (BSEP). The BSEP 'label' serves the important function of making the various interventions coherent and comprehensible to the public and governments.

The BS-SAP highlighted common policy approaches and principles. It also identified 59 main policy actions, together with the institutional arrangements and financing mechanisms to implement them. National Black Sea Action Plans were also drafted under the supervision of the Black Sea Commission. In these, the coastal countries committed themselves to implement the policy actions described in the BS-SAP at the national and local level.

The BS-SAP and its technical annex, the Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis, also justified the need for action and called for implementation at the wider basin level. The Black Sea Commission was the institutional mechanism entrusted with implementation of the BS-SAP at the regional level. This was able to co-operate more effectively and gain more accountability across the region with the establishment of the Commission's Permanent Secretariat in October 2000.

The Commission has taken over full responsibility for overseeing the action programmes undertaken throughout the region by the Black Sea countries, as well as by multilateral and bilateral donors. It is also in charge of ensuring that these programmes comply with the objectives and actions jointly agreed upon by the coastal states.

Although only partially staffed, the Permanent Secretariat -- together with Advisory Groups and Regional Activity Centres -- has launched a number of technical studies, as well as beginning the administrative processes prescribed in the Convention and the BS-SAP. You will find a comprehensive summary of these studies and processes on page 8. The financial resources allocated to these tasks are modest, but it is worthwhile noting that almost all the countries involved have fulfilled their financial commitments to support implementation of the Commission's work-plan.
NGO action
Despite limited experience and funding, environmental NGOs have always been active in increasing public awareness regarding the problems of the Black Sea. It is a source of great satisfaction that these groups have continued to share experiences, work together, and attract donor funding during a period of economic difficulty.

In a process similar to the development of regional co-operation between the Black Sea's six governments, the NGO community in the region has also made an effort to co-operate at a regional level and to participate where possible. Starting out as an informal International Forum of Black Sea NGOs, this co-operation has evolved into a formalised regional organisation, the Black Sea NGO Network. Within this framework, the NGOs have been able to plan and implement common regional activities and gain representation for their communities in international programmes.

GEF and Strategic Partnership for the wider Black Sea basin

In May 2001, there was another encouraging development with endorsement of the Strategic Partnership Approach for the wider Black Sea basin by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council. This partnership consists of two regional capacity-building projects for the Black Sea and Danube river basin countries. It also includes an investment grant facility to finance practical measures to combat eutrophication. This condition is caused by the over-fertilisation of waters as a result of phosphorus and nitrogen nutrients being discharged into the sea, and results in the degradation of marine life.

Detailed information on the Strategic Partnership, the Black Sea regional project, and the Partnership Investment Facility, are available on pages 8, 9, and 10. For now, suffice to say that the Black Sea Ecosystem Recovery Project (BSERP) was launched in May 2002, and its Project Implementation Unit, located in the premises of the Black Sea Commission in Istanbul, is now fully staffed and has already initiated activities included in the Project's work-plan (see the website www.blacksea-environment.org for more details).

Wider European involvement

In recent years, European interest in the Black Sea environmental management process and support for its goals has also grown. Thanks to its role as a major political and financial actor in the wider Black Sea basin -- a role that has come about mainly through its policies on enlargement and relations with the NIS countries -- the European Commission endorsed a policy document (Communiqué). This Communiqué highlights the priority actions that need to be taken by the countries involved. It also represents a commitment by the EU and its member states to increase involvement in environmental co-operation within the region.

Previously, countries of the Black Sea and the Danube River Basin had established a technical co-operation platform, which operated between 1998-2000 through the Black Sea Commission (BSC) and the International Commission on the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR). A joint study of ecological conditions in the wider basin, financed by the GEF, indicated that priority should be given to reduction of eutrophication. The study determined that as an interim measure, the discharge of nutrients into the sea should not exceed 1997 levels. In line with this, a formal co-operation programme between the BCS & ICPDR was initiated, consisting of a series of prioritised actions.

As a follow up to the Communique, the European Commission facilitated an inter-regional dialogue. In November 2001, environment ministers of the countries in the wider basin convened in Brussels to adopt the Declaration on Water and Water-related Ecosystems in the Wider Black Sea Region. A Memorandum of Understanding on Common Strategic Goals was signed between the BSC and the ICPDR, and the DABLAS (Danube and Black Sea) Task Force was established to facilitate its implementation. With the aim of rehabilitating the region's waters, this Task Force will undertake a series of concrete activities that include developing a list of prioritised projects for investment, and suitable financing mechanisms. The European Commission's Environment Directorate has taken a facilitating role, and the task force has already begun work on the elaboration of an updated regional portfolio of investment projects.

The European Commission's new Tacis project

A more recent development concerning EU support for the Black Sea region was the launching of its Tacis Phase III project in support of the Black Sea Strategic Action Plan in 2002. Like previous Tacis interventions, this project will provide technical assistance in implementing the BS-SAP by the three NIS countries, that is Georgia, Russian Federation, and Ukraine. This assistance also incorporates mechanisms to aid the Permanent Secretariat in promoting better co-ordination of project activities in the beneficiary countries contributing to the enhancement of regional capacity.

The management mechanism of the new Tacis project consists of a co-ordinating unit within the premises of the BSC, together with units in the territories of the respective beneficiary countries. This is an indication of the project's regional perspective, and that action is to be taken at the national and local levels. The article on page 11 gives more information on this important new development.

A commitment to the future

In June 2002, environment ministers of the Black Sea coastal states met in Sofia and looked back over the ten years since the signing of the Bucharest Convention. This review of the state of the regional environment and implementation of the BS-SAP showed that much is still to be done.
Establishment of the Permanent Secretariat, which administers the joint implementation of the Commission's work plan, was a major breakthrough. It demonstrated that the process of protecting the environment and promoting sustainable development of the Black Sea belongs to coastal states of the region. It also marked a new phase in the Black Sea Environmental Programme, launched a decade ago, ensuring that important actors rejoined the regional initiative.
We have full confidence that the Programme, under the attentive guidance of the Black Sea Commission and with the active participation of the region's civil organisations and emerging private sector, together with support of the international community, will live up to the expectations of the Contracting Parties when they signed the Bucharest Convention ten years ago. Today, the prospects for creating real change in the Black Sea and for its people are probably greater than ever.

Plamen Dzhadzhev, Permanent Secretariat
Sema Acar, BSERP
Ties van Kempen, Tacis technical assistance to BSEP

The Black Sea Commission - now fully operational

The Black Sea, our sea, is the region’s greatest natural inheritance. For most of the people living around its shores, it is an important source of livelihood, as well as the main connection to the oceans of the world. The sea has also had a major role in the spread of human civilisation, dating back to prehistoric times. During its dramatic, millennia long history, it has also been at the centre of battles and invasions -- but has still remained a place of intensive, cross-cultural communication.

However, our sea is also suffering from a deep environmental crisis. During the last few decades, it has become one of the most environmentally degraded regional seas on our planet. Today, almost 87 percent of the Black Sea’s total volume is anoxic -- without oxygen. Its huge catchment area and almost landlocked nature have made it highly sensitive to a variety of problems caused by human behaviour. Every year, about 350 cubic kilometres of river water pours into the Black Sea. This brings with it many of the products created by the activity of more than 170 million people, who live in some of the most populated areas of the 17 different countries arranged along these river banks.

The sea now suffers from a long list of ailments. Pollution by land-based sources, the loss of biodiversity as a consequence of pollution and the destruction of habitats, over-exploitation of marine living resources leading to a collapse of fisheries -- all these have made a significant impact. In addition, there is coastal degradation, health problems caused by water borne diseases, the introduction of opportunistic exotic species, and maritime pollution caused by the transportation of oil and other hazardous substances. All these have led to an almost total breakdown of the sea’s ecosystems and have hampered the social and economic development of the coastal countries.

Introducing the Commission

Concerned about the transboundary nature of the environmental problems of the Black Sea, in 1988 the coastal states agreed to negotiate a regional convention. This was the Convention on the Protection of the Black Sea against Pollution and its three protocols on prevention of land-based pollution, dumping into the sea and co-operation in emergency situations caused by oil spills. The document was signed in Bucharest in 1992 by the environment ministers of six coastal states -- Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, the Russian Federation, Turkey and Ukraine. The Convention was ratified by the country’s six parliaments in a relatively short time and came into force in 1994.

The Commission on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution (BSC) was established in May 1995 in Varna, Bulgaria, following the provisions of the Convention on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution. The contracting parties are represented on the Commission by a person appointed by a resolution of the respective government. Back then, it was expected that the Commission’s executive body, the Permanent Secretariat, would be established in 1996 and located in Istanbul, but unfortunately, the countries were not ready to start the complete implementation of the Convention at that time.

After the Ministerial Meeting in Istanbul in October 1996, the BSC took on overall co-ordination of the implementation of the Strategic Action Plan on the Rehabilitation and Protection of the Black Sea, a comprehensive document which set out the essential policies, measures and modalities of implementation in this area.

A delay in the negotiations between the coastal states and in the signing of some of the basic working documents of the Commission held back the implementation of virtually all the measures to protect the sea and improve its environmental status that had been envisaged. However, in recent years the situation has changed completely.

Establishment of the Permanent Secretariat and its institutional strengthening

An enormous step forward was the setting up of the executive body of the Commission in autumn 2000. With this, for the first time, the efforts of the coastal states to recover the Black Sea were put on sound institutional and financially sustainable ground. Funded by the governments of the contracting parties to the Convention, the new organisation is also attracting substantial technical and financial assistance from international donors. It is also bridging the gaps between the programmes and projects funded by the major donors.

Revitalisation of the Black Sea experts and the institutional network

One of the greatest achievements of the Black Sea Environment Programme has been the renewal of links between environmental administrations and the academia of the Black Sea states. These links had been disrupted at the beginning of the political and economic transition period in the late 1980s. There are now a number of national Focal Points, integrated with the Commission’s advisory groups and co-ordinated by regional activity centres located in each of the countries.

Although the up keep of this network is considered to be an in-kind contribution by the Black Sea states, they have still been dependant on project-based funding. Based on the Commission’s funding, in recent years the activities of the advisory groups have been placed on a regular basis. The network was also extended with the creation of the new Advisory Group on Information Management and the Ad Hoc Group on the EC Water Framework Directive.

Relations with partner organisations

The BSC co-operates with numerous organisations which share the objectives of the Convention and/or conduct significant activities on the fields of human health and marine and coastal environment. This covers areas such as industry, transportation, agriculture, fisheries and tourism. Memoranda of understanding have been signed or are being negotiated with a number of these groups. The BSC has granted observer status to its most important partners and participates in their activities as well.

Co-operation in the wider Black Sea basin

There is widespread recognition that input from rivers into the Black Sea is of great importance to its environmental status. Close co-operation between river basin management bodies on this issue is an important requirement. For this reason, the years of practice and experience gained have been formalised by the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the BSC and the International Commission on the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR).

Stressing that contamination by nutrients is the main problem for water quality in the Black Sea, the MoU sets out the framework for the implementation of common strategic goals. A Joint Black Sea/Danube Working Group has been established, supported by the two commissions, which is assisting them in the implementation of the Memorandum.

Towards investment solutions - the DABLAS Task Force

At this stage, the consolidation of a region-wide investment strategy appears to be of basic importance. Co-ordinating governmental efforts within the wider Black Sea basin with donors’ activities will create the possibility of reaching an appropriate balance between national and regional priorities in the process of project selection, and of sharing out the funds available internationally. The newly established DABLAS Task Force provides the forum where, under the auspices of the EC, the contracting parties to the conventions on the protection of the Black Sea and the Danube River will work out and implement a joint investment strategy with multilateral and bilateral donors.

The establishment of a system of criteria and a database for the prioritisation of proposals for investments in the wider Black Sea region is in progress. The first list of priority projects will be approved by the Task Force in mid-February 2003.

Wider authorisations and responsibilities - ACCOBAMS, the draft of the new fisheries related convention

The role of the Commission as an institutional instrument of the coastal states for resolving environment related issues and problems has been widely recognised by the international community. This fact has led to a significant increase in the responsibilities of the Commission, which was being asked to perform important functions for which the Convention had not provided. In 2002, the Commission agreed to act through the Permanent Secretariat as a Sub-regional Co-ordinating Unit for the Black Sea for the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and the Contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS). A special MoU on this issue was signed between the Black Sea Commission Permanent Secretariat and the Secretariat of ACCOBAMS.
The Sixth Meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Black Sea Economic Co-operation Member States, which met in Kiev on 25 April 2002, also assigned the Commission another important task. This was the overall co-ordination of the preparation of the draft for a new convention on fisheries in the Black Sea.

New protocols and a more realistic reconfirmation of commitments

The protection of the Black Sea against pollution is not the only thing that needs to be done in order to improve its unique ecosystem. The protection of biodiversity is becoming more and more important for the coastal states -- and the BSC. A new protocol on the protection of biodiversity was signed at the Ministerial Meeting in Sofia (June 2002), thus widening the scope of the Convention and transforming it into a contemporary instrument of international environmental protection .

The meeting in Sofia also made a full review of the implementation of the Black Sea Strategic Action Plan. A detailed analysis was carried out and the implementation timeframe was revised in order to present more realistic deadlines for the measures to be taken. At the same time, the Sofia Declaration on the Protection of the Black Sea Ecosystem is a strong reconfirmation of the commitment of the coastal states to save our sea.

BSEP - a new concept for a popular group

The Black Sea Environmental Programme is the well known popular name of the first UNDP/GEF project for technical assistance to the Black Sea countries, which ran from 1993-1996. This ended up with the formulation of the Black Sea Strategic Action Plan and was undoubtedly a great success for both the coastal states and the international environmental community. Many other partner organisations and multilateral and bilateral donors joined the effort to improve the sea’s unique ecosystem.

Little by little, perceptions of the BSEP have grown. Now, by the BSEP we perceive all concerted action taken towards saving the Black Sea. In this process, the importance of the consolidating and streamlining role of the Commission, as a sustainable and permanent body, has also grown and is a guarantee of the continuity of the Black Sea process.

What we should never forget

Until recently, the question of whether it was possible to save the Black Sea, or whether its ecosystem could develop in a sustainable way, was widely in doubt. Today though, looking at the results of routine monitoring of the marine environment as well as of numerous specific scientific studies, we are deeply convinced that a steady trend towards improvement is a real fact. Regardless of whether the main reason for this is the ongoing economic crisis in the region, there is now a better opportunity to make this tendency irreversible.

The experience of contemporary environmental management gained by the BSC, including its participation in many other international conventions and agreements, is that co-operation between relevant international organisations has increased the region’s capacity to tackle the problem enormously.

In most of the Black Sea countries, new environmental legislation is directly transposing the environmental directives of the EU. This is a solid guarantee that when it comes, the expected new economic development of the region will head in a different direction -- one that is resource saving and environmentally friendly. Today, society is beginning to realise the importance of the environmental concerns of the sea. Our common task is to take this message to everyone.

The GEF supports control of eutrophication in the Black Sea

Composite satellite image showing high concentration of chlorophyll in the sea of Azov and the North Black Sea - the result of micro algae blooms

The Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA) published in 1996 indicated that eutrophication caused by nutrients (mainly nitrogen and phosphorus compounds) is the most severe problem the Black Sea faces -- both in terms of its coverage and its impact on ecosystems.

A few indicators of the impact of eutrophication in the Black Sea From the 1960s to 1990s…

• Water transparency (m) decreased by half

• The area of summer-autumn hypoxic zones (Km2) increased more than 1000 times.

• The area of fields of Phyllophora (a key-stone species) decreased from 10,000,000 to 500 km2.

• The biomass of Phyllophora , the nucleus of a biocoenosis of approximately 100 invertebrates and fish, decreased from 10,000,000 to 400,000 tons.

• Planktonic Dinoflagellates (cells. l -1) increased 15,000 times due to increased nutrient levels, doubling the ratio of Dinoflagellates to Diatoms and affecting phytoplankton compositions.

• Perennial brown algae (Cystoseira barbata), the nucleus of a biocoenosis of approximately 50 invertebrates and fish, was lost.

• The total biomass of the Black Sea mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis) (t) decreased to one third of its original amount.

• The total biomass of oyster (Ostraea edulis) (t) was reduced to 1.4% of its original amount.

• Quantity of grey mullet Mugil cephalus (fry) was reduced to 0.8% of its original amount.

• Number of commercial fish species was reduced to one fifth.

In the mid 1990s, total nitrogen levels were found to be four times higher than they had been in the 1970s, whereas phosphate levels had stayed almost the same. Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, the Russian Federation, Turkey and Ukraine contributed 14%, 1%, 27%, 10%, 12%, and 6% of the total nitrogen, and 5%, 1%, 23%, 13%, 20% and 12 % of the total phosphorus emissions respectively. However, the TDA also revealed that while 30% of nutrients arriving in the Black Sea were discharged directly or through national rivers, major transboundary rivers such as the Danube, Dnieper, Dniester, Don and Volga were responsible for the transportation of the rest, some 70%. Since effluents from point as well as non-point sources in some of the coastal countries are also drained into transboundary rivers -- for example, into the Danube and Dnieper, it was calculated that 70% of the overall nutrient loads were emerging from the coastal countries and 30% from non-coastal countries.

Despite the shut-down of a large number of installations and a decrease in the agricultural production of Central and Eastern Europe as a result of economic collapse, and despite pollution control measures such as sewage treatment and converting to non-phosphate detergents, nutrient loads were still too high.

A study on the Danube River basin countries showed that the agricultural sector was responsible for 50% of nutrient emissions, while industry and the urban sector both had 25% shares. In line with these findings, the Strategic Action Plan for the Protection and Rehabilitation of the Black Sea, which was adopted by the environment ministers of the six Black Sea countries in Istanbul in 1996, acknowledged that eutrophication should be a concern for the countries in the wider Black Sea basin. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) provided assistance to the Black Sea Commission (BSC) and the International Commission on the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR) to study the causes and impacts of eutrophication in the Black Sea and to recommend a common strategy. The scientists and the two Commissions agreed on the following:

The long term goal for all Black Sea basin countries is to take measures to reduce nutrient levels and other hazardous substances to such a level as to permit the Black Sea ecosystems to recover to similar conditions as those observed in the 1960s… As an intermediate goal, urgent control measures should be taken by all countries in the Black Sea basin in order to prevent discharges of nitrogen and phosphorus into the Black Sea exceeding those levels observed in 1997.

This statement is the basic rationale for the new GEF intervention in the region, namely the ‘Strategic Partnership for the Black Sea and Danube River Basin countries’. As part of this intervention, UNDP-GEF is implementing a capacity building project in the Black Sea coastal countries. The project is entitled ‘Control of Eutrophication, Hazardous Substances and related Measures for Rehabilitating the Black Sea Ecosystem: Phase1’, or the ‘Black Sea Ecosystem Recovery Project’ (BSERP). It will cost US$4 million and will be implemented between April 2002 and April 2004.

The project will address basin-wide eutrophication mainly through:

• Reform of agricultural policies to reduce non-point source run-off of fertilizers and manure (buffer zones, erosion control, organic agriculture, manure storage clamps etc.). • Improved industrial and municipal wastewater treatment to capture nutrients (alternative technologies with low O&M costs: advanced integrated ponding systems, constructed wetlands etc.). • Rehabilitation of key basin ecosystems to enhance their capacities as nutrient sinks (wetland restoration). • Strengthening the legislative framework and enforcement, enhancing public awareness, promoting changes in consumer practices (including phosphate free detergents).

In addition to control and abatement of eutrophication and hazardous substances, the BSERP also aims to improve management of critical marine and coastal areas, in particular those which have significance in regard to sustainable fisheries. In this context, it will support the process for the adoption of a regionally binding instrument for fisheries and the establishment of special marine protection areas.

The BSERP aims to strengthen the role of the Black Sea Commission in establishing a regime capable of co-ordinating regional actions to overcome the key transboundary issues facing the Black Sea. The Project will therefore make use of the existing network of the Commission and its subsidiary bodies, namely the Permanent Secretariat, the thematic Advisory Groups and the Regional Activity Centres, and provide technical and administrative assistance for these bodies. This assistance will be in the form of supporting special studies, organising meetings, providing equipment and consultancy services and facilitating management of information.

Currently, the BSERP, together with the Permanent Secretariat, is conducting a study of data management and exchange capacity in the region. As an outcome of this study, a plan for upgrading this capacity will be developed and implemented. We are hoping to put this system in place very soon.

As part of the Project’s support for the establishment of a permanent mechanism for co-operation with the ICPDR and other emergent river basin commissions in the Black Sea basin, the BSERP assisted the BSC in convening the first meeting of the Black Sea Danube Joint Working Group. During this meeting, a common work-plan was agreed upon, along with an implementation schedule. The Group will continue its work towards agreement on compatible monitoring systems for the respective regions. It will also work on reviewing the methodology for environmental assessment, developing a reporting format and procedures for annual reports to be submitted to both commissions on the input loads and assessed ecological status (based on identified indicators), and formulating technical proposals for implementation. The next meeting of the Group will be held on 7-8 November 2002. The GEF Dnieper Project will also be participating in the Joint Working Group.

The existing Protocol for the Control of Land Based Sources of Pollution of the Bucharest Convention is not fully compatible with the legally binding and/or non-binding global and regional policy documents adopted more recently.

For example, the Global Programme of Action for Land-Based Activities (GPA-LBA), embodied in the 1995 Washington Declaration and adopted by the governments of the region brings a more comprehensive approach to the protection of the marine environment, including combating threats other than pollution, such as the destruction of habitats. It also gives greater consideration to increased levels of nutrients and eutrophication. Similarly the Water Frame-work Directive of the European Commission, which is a prerogative for three countries in the region (Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey) requires the adoption of a river-basin management approach. Since limiting nutrient loads to the Black Sea to their 1997 levels would require integration of these elements with the respective Protocol of the Bucharest Convention , the BSERP is supporting an activity to revise the current Protocol and a work programme for the implementation of the GPA in the Black Sea region between 2002-2006. This component of the project will be implemented by UNEP.

Another activity to be implemented by UNEP will help the coastal states to adopt a more pro-active and precautionary approach. The aim of this study is to identify, model and prioritise long-term planning strategies for emergent transboundary issues, using the methodology created for the GEF Global International Waters Assessment. Through the study, environmental problems will be examined from the perspective of their root social and economic causes, the barriers for overcoming these causes will be identified and medium/long-term strategies will be formulated.

Previous work on the Black Sea has clearly demonstrated that existing information on the nutrient and toxics load in the sea and the response of the system is insufficient to enable more concrete goals to be set. The countries do not have a mechanism for monitoring and evaluating indicators that will enable the measurement of achievement of eutrophication control targets. The BSERP is aiming to contribute to closing the existing gap in compliance and to set new, pragmatic targets for the future. A co-ordinated targeted research activity, which involves three scientific cruises to be conducted in 2003, will help reducing current scientific uncertainties regarding the measures to be taken to control eutrophication in the Black Sea. You can see a more detailed review of this component of BSERP on page x.

Currently there are almost no regularly monitored indicators of the success or failure of the measures taken to protect the Black Sea. This is particularly evident for indicators related to eutrophication. The BSERP is therefore assisting the coastal countries in developing a system of environmental status, process and stress reduction indicators that would help to facilitate cross-sectoral integration, ensure greater transparency and raise the level of priority for nutrient control. The most immediate task is prioritising and integrating the indicators of eutrophication proposed in the preparatory phase of the current project into the Black Sea Integrated Monitoring And Assessment Programme (BSIMAP) in a feasible and sustainable manner. In this context, a pilot status monitoring activity will be conducted by the BSERP. Support for equipment and consumables to conduct the activity will be available to monitoring institutions. An assessment of the analytical capabilities of the institutions in the coastal countries is being planned for November.

One of the BSERP’s most important priorities is the development of a regional synergy between senior representatives of particular sectors, making them aware of the problem of eutrophication and providing a positive atmosphere for discussing solutions within their own sectors. In order to achieve this objective, three regional workshops, one for each of the three key sectors -- agriculture, industry and municipal government -- will be organised to explore actions to reduce nutrient emissions and be held together with BSC officials and experts.

The intention is to demonstrate win-win solutions to problems and to encourage the representatives to formulate answers within their own sectors that give due consideration to the specific conditions of their individual countries and of the region. Elaboration and government approval of national nutrient reduction strategies and presentation to the Commission is planned. This will provide an overall policy blueprint based on the common objectives set by the ICPDR and the BSC. In order to be effective, these national strategies will require clear sectoral master plans for nutrient control in each coastal country. These will incorporate revisions and amendments to laws and policies, and common indicators of process and stress reduction.

The coastal countries and the BSC can implement measures that are financially sustainable. The lack of funding for environmental protection has been a perennial problem in the Black Sea region. Innovative approaches cannot simply be imported from the West, as the circumstances of countries in transition are unique and complex. Approaches must be created that have a full understanding of the priorities and economic realities of the region. Enhancing the priority accorded to environmental protection is essential. This requires a closer dialogue with the economic sector (treasuries, ministries of finance and economy), the private sector and with financial institutions such as the Black Sea Regional Development Bank. The BSERP is to undertake a series of activities that will enable the Commission to initiate pragmatic options for improving financing, especially in the regional context. An article on the prospects for, and efficient use of economic instruments is on page X.

The environmental protection of the Black Sea depends not only on international agreements, but also on the daily activity of the populations in the basin. An important feature of the project is its encouragement of broad stakeholder participation. This will be achieved by inter-sectoral co-ordination, the provision of small grants to environmental NGOs and local initiatives, and support for public information and environmental education. A portfolio of small public initiatives contributing to nutrient reduction in the Black Sea amounting to approximately US$300,000 will be implemented through the project (see page x). Based on the outcome of these initiatives, a second tranche of small projects will be prepared for implementation within the next two-years. Public participation in wetland management in the region will be enhanced by establishing a dialogue, and by the dissemination of the findings and recommendations of an independent report on Black Sea wetlands.

Finally, support will also be provided for a co-operative stakeholder training programme. Activities within this are to include a Black Sea Environmental Education Programme for school children, a training programme for agricultural specialists and farmers on agriculture and control of eutrophication, and a training programme for fishermen and government administrative staff on sustainable fisheries and the protection of special marine habitats.

Unless an environmental dimension is introduced to fisheries management in the Black Sea, many of the potential benefits accrued by nutrient reduction will be lost. The project will therefore provide technical support to the overall process of rational exploitation of marine living resources and to the adoption of modern approaches to management. These include fisheries no take zones or Marine Protected Areas. The latter represent a powerful win-win solution, as they accrue benefits to the fisheries -- especially where these have proven difficult to regulate because of illegal practices – and to the natural environment, as well as to the local stakeholders by ensuring food safety and diversification of employment.

Sema ACAR Co-ordinator, BSERP

Public participation and stakeholder involvement

Nowadays, when trying to solve complex environmental problems it is widely considered good practice to apply a systematic and comprehensive ecosystem approach. This means accounting for the interrelationships between land, air, water and all living things -- including humans -- and involving all stakeholder groups in comprehensive management.

When we try to solve environmental problems through organised activities, this implies that society has recognised impaired beneficial uses for the environment and has decided to take measures to restore those uses. In the case of the Black Sea, the loss of recreational value of the sea’s coastal waters, or the reduced availability of fish for consumption are examples of impaired uses that demand action. Another example might be restricted access to beaches and valuable coastal landscapes coming as a result of construction work.

Any perceived environmental problem presents a conflict between different users of one and the same resource. For example, the building of a harbour on a coast where the local population likes to go swimming, or the dumping of waste in waters used for fishing demonstrate such conflicts. Some actors in society act for their own convenience, but by doing so deny other actors the opportunity to also act in the same way. Behind such conflicts there are interest groups, also known as stakeholders. Each of these has a certain right to benefit from the specific environment and wants to defend that right. This is how environmental conflicts appear, and respective environmental problems are demonstrated.

Logically, effective management of an environmental problem should not mean choosing and defending the rights of only one segment of the set of stakeholders. Regrettably though, this is generally what happens. What results is an incorrect model of public management, which has effectively provoked a response from civil society. This has been clearly demonstrated by the development of environmental movements world-wide.

When a stakeholder group has no chance of intervening in the decision making process and has no voice within it, the solution of the environmental problem gets transferred to the future, retaining tensions and compromising socio-economic progress in the community. These decisions are usually seen as unsustainable.

The ‘command and control’ type of public management is often blamed for bringing about such unsustainable decisions. Typically, central governments respond to problems by developing and implementing rules and by assuming that problems are well bounded, clearly defined and generally linear with respect to cause and effect.

As an alternative to rule driven public management, there is mission driven Adaptive Ecosystem-Based Management.

This is guided by the following criteria:
- leadership
- stakeholder involvement
- information and interpretation
- planning of actions within a strategic framework
- human resource development
- results and indicators
- review and feedback
- stakeholder satisfaction
(Hartig et al. 1994)

Adaptive, ecosystem-based planning and management is an iterative learning process that integrates the environment with economic and social understanding. An ecosystem approach requires the involvement of resource managers, but also other stakeholders who are customers and suppliers of remedial and preventive actions.

In order to define a common vision, stakeholders must be involved at the beginning of a planning process. This encourages empowerment and local ownership of the process. For greater effectiveness, leaders should emerge from a stakeholder group and work in a co-operative manner. Consensus building among stakeholders may require educational programmes to achieve common understanding of problems, causes and sources.

Public participation and stakeholder involvement does not only refer to the right to be informed and represented at decision making events. It is also about taking ownership of remedial actions and programmes when possible. The gradual withdrawal of central government institutions by transferring the responsibility for programme management to local groups and associations (including municipalities) improves efficiency and guarantees long-term effects in a sustainable manner. Successful environmental programmes where this approach has been applied are described as:

- clean-up and prevention driven, not document driven
- those that make existing programmes and statutes work
- cutting through bureaucracy
- establishing priorities on a local basis and elevating them to municipal, regional and national governments
- ensuring strong community based planning process
- streamlining the critical path for solving the problem

A good example comes from the Great Lakes, where remedial actions in the Ontario region over environmental problems have been described as possessing the following critical features:

- strong partnerships with local communities
- empowerment of local stakeholders
- consensus based decision-making processes
- a strong commitment to public education and outreach
- public advisory committees existing which are viewed as equal partners
- remedial action plans viewed as co-ordinating mechanisms for restoring uses throughout areas of concern (a participatory agreed formulation)
- strong linkages between monitoring/research and management

Essentially, public participation is the process of ensuring that those who have an interest or stake in a decision are involved in making that decision.

Participation is basically about involving the additional human resources of society when acting to try and solve problems. The forms of involvement range from passive participation, where people are told what is happening and act according to predetermined roles, to self-mobilisation, where people take initiatives and act independently by having control of the process.

Types of participation can be:

INFORMATION – when people are informed what has been decided or has happened, or participation is used for informal gathering of information to develop solutions based on people’s knowledge. No participation in decision-making is in place.
CONSULTATION – participation by formally consulting, with no obligation to take into account the opinions given when making decisions.
IMPLEMENTING – when participants are invited to implement ready made plans, a procedure used especially to reduce costs.
SHARED DECISIONS – people participate in the joint analysis of situations and the development of action plans. Such processes involve capacity building – the strengthening of local groups or institutions.
SELF DETERMINATION – people participate at the system level in solving a social problem. They take initiatives over planning and implementation of policies independently. They contact external institutions for the resources and technical advice they need, but retain control over how the resources are used.

This “participation ladder” does not only visualise the level of development of civil organisations. It also visualises the level of understanding existing in the official institutions of public management of the need for and benefits to be derived from a “participatory” management process.

An effective and modern management:

- is OPEN to participation, where it is anticipated and facilitated
- is seen as a CO-OPERATIVE LEARNING PROCESS
- INVESTS IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE CAPACITY of the stakeholders to participate effectively.

Participation is a political process. At its core, it requires a conscious will to share power with a wider range of stakeholders. Without the cultural and political decision to share power, participation is simply public relations at its most cynical.

However, power sharing is not about handing over control of decisions, resources and budgets to others. It is about sharing that control equitably.

Ivan Banchev
Public Participation Specialist
Black Sea Ecosystems Recovery Project

Although regional in scope, the significance of the Aarhus Convention is global. It is by far the most impressive elaboration of Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration, which stresses the need for citizens’ participation in environmental issues and for access to information on the environment held by public authorities. As such it is the most ambitious venture in the area of ‘environmental democracy’ so far undertaken under the auspices of the United Nations.

Kofi A. Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations


The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (1992)

Principle 10: Environmental issues are best handled with the participation of all concerned citizens, at the relevant level. At the national level, each individual shall have appropriate access to information concerning the environment that is held by public authorities, including information on hazardous materials and activities in their communities, and the opportunity to participate in decision-making processes. States shall facilitate and encourage public awareness and participation by making information widely available. Effective access to judicial and administrative proceedings, including redress and remedy, shall be provided.


The UNECE Convention on access to information, public participation in decision- making and access to justice in environmental matters
(The Aahrhus Convention 1998, built on the Sofia Guidelines adopted by ministers in 1995 as a consequence of Principle 10 of UNCED 1992).

Key Propositions:
The concepts behind public participation need to be articulated and understood throughout society…

* Recognition of the dual aim of the public participation regime – bringing both the aims of environmental protection and the aims of social justice to bear upon the quality of environmental decision-making, both in its implementation and in its outcome. Equal opportunity of involvement in decision-making is essential – if only a few with greater resources can use the system, then decisions may well favour vested interests rather than society and future generations as a whole.

* A robust system of public participation needs guarantees of rights, equality of access to information and of participation opportunities, and of access to justice. Without guarantees that can be seen to work in practice, the credibility of any system will be quickly undermined.

* Capacity building is an indispensable element of any public participation system, requiring conscious efforts with respect to education, awareness, debate, improved efficiency, collection and dissemination of information and the establishment of a socially inclusive process.

The Bank advises governments, however, to welcome a wider role for NGOs and to allow and foster "a strong civil society participating in public affairs," because of the capacity of civil society organisations to mediate between individuals and the state, to inform public debate, to perform social functions, and to hold governments accountable".

World Bank Handbook on NGOs



"Democracy is a system based on trust in human responsibility. This responsibility, however, has to be constantly nurtured and cultivated.
The state should not believe that it alone knows better than anyone else what society needs. It should trust its citizens and enable them to share in a substantial way in exercising the responsibility for the condition of society.
To this end, it should offer them a wide range of opportunities for engaging in public life and developing diverse forms of civic coexistence, solidarity and participation."

Vaclav Havel
President of the Czech Republic
CIVITAS Conference


Public Involvement in GEF-Financed Projects
The GEF Council, Washington D.C., June 1996
Global Environment Facility's (GEF) policy
on public involvement in GEF-financed projects


4. Effective public involvement is critical to the success of GEF-financed projects. When done appropriately, public involvement improves the performance and impact of projects by:
- enhancing recipient country ownership of, and accountability for, project outcomes;
- addressing the social and economic needs of affected people;
- building partnerships among project executing agencies and stakeholders; and
- making use of skills, experiences, and knowledge, in particular, of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), community and local groups, and the private sector in the design, implementation, and evaluation of project activities.

5. Public involvement consists of three related, and often overlapping, processes: information dissemination, consultation, and ‘stakeholder’ participation. Stakeholders are the individuals, groups, or institutions that have an interest or stake in the outcome of a GEF-financed project. The term also applies to those potentially affected by a project. Stakeholders include recipient country governments, implementing agencies, project executing agencies, groups contracted to conduct project activities at various stages of the project, and other groups in the civil society which may have an interest in the project.

8. Stakeholder participation is where stakeholders collaboratively engage, as appropriate, in the identification of project concepts and objectives, selection of sites, design and implementation of activities, and monitoring and evaluation of projects. Developing strategies for incorporating stakeholder participation throughout the project cycle is particularly necessary in projects which impact the incomes and livelihoods of local groups, especially disadvantaged populations in and around project sites (for example, indigenous communities, women, and poor households).

9. … Effective public involvement should enhance the social, environmental, and financial sustainability of projects.

10. … By improving project performance and sharing accountability for project outcomes, public involvement contributes to the environmental and financial sustainability of projects. Further, to be socially sustainable, projects should, as appropriate, address the social, cultural, and economic needs of people affected by GEF-financed projects.

12 … To be effective, public involvement activities should be broad and sustainable. The Implementing Agencies will include in project budgets, as needed, the financial and technical assistance necessary for recipient governments and project executing agencies to ensure effective public involvement.

13. … The Implementing Agencies will support project executing agencies in: (a) providing relevant, timely, and accessible information to as many stakeholders as possible; (b) facilitating broad as well as project-specific consultations, especially at the local or sub-national levels; and (c) promoting the participation of stakeholder groups throughout the project cycle. This promotion includes awareness raising and capacity strengthening activities.
Public involvement activities will be conducted in a transparent and open manner. All GEF-financed projects should have full documentation of public involvement activities.

15. … Facilitate the exchange of best practices on public involvement among recipient
governments, the Implementing Agencies, project executing agencies, and other stakeholders with a view to ensuring that lessons are incorporated into design of future projects;
In collaboration with the Implementing Agencies, explore ways in which roles of NGOs and other stakeholders can be strengthened in project preparation, design, implementation, and evaluation, and conduct periodic assessments of the effectiveness of public involvement in projects; and
Ensure that funding is available to recipient governments, executing agencies, and, as appropriate, NGOs for conducting effective public involvement.

Largely based on materials from:
John H. Hartig (American Review of Canadian Studies, Great Lakes Remedial Action Plans),
WWF European Freshwater Programme (Public participation training materials),
World Bank’s internal ‘Learning Group on Participatory Development’ (survey conclusions),
European ECO Forum (Implementing Rio Principles in Europe, 2001)
Salzburg Seminar (A Decision-Maker's Guide to the Third Sector).

Financing investments for nutrient reduction: the World Bank-GEF Investment Fund

The World Bank-Global Environment Facility (GEF) Investment Fund is the investment arm of the GEF Strategic Partnership on the Danube/Black Sea Basin. It builds upon the joint efforts undertaken by the basin countries through the conventions for the Black Sea and Danube River, the EU and other donors, and the three GEF Implementing Agencies.

The Fund constitutes a proposed envelope of US$70 million, to be approved by the GEF Council in several tranches, to grant-finance investment projects in the Black Sea/Danube Basin that aim at nutrient reduction. The Fund focuses on single country investments in Belarus, Bosnia -Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Georgia, Hungary, Moldova, Romania, the Russian Federation, Serbia & Montenegro, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Turkey and Ukraine.

Eligible sectors for investment under the Fund include advanced municipal and industrial
waste water treatment, agricultural nutrient pollution control and wetland restoration. The Investment Fund provides a focused regional framework for country level investments aimed at a common goal of combating eutrophication in the Black Sea and allows for a streamlined approached to project processing by the GEF.

In May 2001, the GEF Council approved the first tranche of the Investment Fund, US$20 million. The Partnership framework brief identified the 2nd and 3rd tranches of the Investment Fund as US$25 million each. The 2nd tranche has been reduced to US$16 million in light of the funding constraints currently experienced by the GEF, meaning a smaller number of projects can be funded. Expected co-financing for the 2nd tranche is US$75 million. However, the World Bank continues to develop the project pipeline, envisaging the availability of a US$70 million total envelope as originally proposed.

The Partnership is designed to produce replication measures throughout the
Danube/Black Sea basin in order to achieve effective demonstrations of nutrient reduction in the different countries. A critical goal of the Investment Fund is to increase GEF grant leveraging against other project financing sources and to encourage other partners to take over larger shares of nutrient reduction investments

Ten projects in the three eligible sectors are at various stage of preparation and implementation. As of March 2002, the portfolio includes four agricultural pollution control projects (APCP), five advanced wastewater treatment projects (WWTP) and one wetlands restoration project. The Romania APCP was the first project to be endorsed and is currently under implementation. The other projects are at various stages of preparation. A summary of the status and financing of each proposed project is provided in the boxes on the right/left of the page and in the table below. Knowledge sharing activities, a website and the Distance Learning Programme for the Black Sea/Danube Basin also accompany the projects financed under the Investment Fund, as described in the boxes.

Agricultural Pollution Control Projects (APCPs) included in the portfolio aim at reducing nutrient discharges from non-point agricultural sources through the adoption of environmentally friendly agricultural practices. These practices include improved management, handling, storage and use of manure, crop rotation, conservation tillage, organic farming, buffer strips along rivers, as well as rehabilitation of floodplains and wetland areas.

Investments in these projects also include facilities for soil and water quality monitoring, such as relevant laboratory equipment. In addition to investments, where needed, APCPs offer farmer training to facilitate the adoption of these practices. Furthermore, APCPs typically contain a component that aims at strengthening the countries’ national policy, regulatory and institutional capacity to control nutrient pollution. Typically countries choose to adopt the European Union Nitrate Directive, including the Code of Good Agricultural Practices.

Finally, the APCPs have a component dedicated to public awareness raising and replication strategy to enhance the sustainability and replicability of project interventions. The strength of the portfolio in the APCPs is based on a number of factors. First, most basin countries are currently undergoing a transition in their agricultural sectors that has led to the abolition of fertilizer subsidies and the break- up of large livestock farms. This offers an opportunity to introduce environmentally friendly agricultural practices.

Second, environmentally friendly agricultural practices are more cost-effective in reducing nutrients than wastewater treatment plants. APCPs have leveraged significant financing from other sources. A GEF funding of US$21.15 million is expected to leverage US$105.65 million from other sources, which corresponds to a ratio of 1 (GEF) : 5 (other). This was achieved mainly through linking GEF grant operations to World Bank lending operations.

In Romania, the APCP is linked to the Agricultural Support Services Project. In Turkey, the APCP is being blended with the US$50 million Bank-funded Anatolia Integrated Watershed Management Project, which is based on identifying investment needs at the micro-catchment level. In Moldova, the APCP is being blended with the US$40 million Rural Investment Support Project and will provide farmers who wish to invest in environmentally friendly agricultural practices with grants amounting to up to 20% of their total loan from a commercial bank. In Russia, local administrative agencies in Krasnodar Krai, a region of 4,432 thousand ha (DO YOU MEAN FOUR THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED AND THIRTY TWO OR FOUR MILLION FOUR HUNDRED AND THIRTY TWO THOUSAND HECTARES?? ED) of intensively cultivated farmland and a Black Sea coastline of 570 km., will provide140% of the co-financing in order to introduce good agricultural practices in their Krai.
 

Advanced Wastewater Treatment. The Investment Fund Portfolio presently contains two advanced WWT plant projects -- in Russia’s Rostov region and in Hungary -- and three projects that will support artificial (“constructed”) wetlands.

The main issue arising in initiating projects that promote nutrient reduction through advanced secondary or tertiary municipal wastewater treatment plants has been the high cost associated with their establishment and, even more importantly, with the operation and maintenance (O&M) of primary and secondary treatment. In the majority of the Black Sea basin countries, primary and secondary treatment facilities do not exist, or where they do exist, they are in a dilapidated state.

The utilities are generally inefficiently managed and in severe financial difficulties as a result of high operations costs and low tariff collection rates. However, difficult economic conditions have made local governments/utilities reluctant to raise tariffs. Utilities have also been reluctant to implement reforms, such as privatising management services. Lack of financial viability has prevented the World Bank from carrying out loan operations to build or rehabilitate municipal wastewater treatment plants with which a GEF funded advanced treatment operation could be funded.

It should be noted that advanced treatment adds significantly to O&M costs, exacerbating the problem of financial sustainability. The World Bank intends to seek creative solutions to reduce the O&M costs of WWT plants. One promising option is to invest in technological changes which would improve the energy efficiency of treatment operations and reduce the energy bill. Such investments may be funded through a combination of a WB loan and a GEF grant under the Climate Change programme. Energy efficiency gains may be significant in the WWT plants of large cities. Advanced treatment through artificial wetlands offers a plausible alternative to advanced secondary or tertiary WWT plants in small to medium size towns, as the O&M costs are significantly lower than the latter. The main issues arising from this approach are related to the need for un-contested wetland area and the existence of primary and secondary treatment plants for the treatment of sewerage before it is channelled into the constructed wetland for nutrient reduction.

The Bank adopted this approach in the GEF- funded Albania Integrated Water and Ecosystem Management Project and is exploring it for the Black Sea/Danube Basin in the Moldova Environmental Protection Project, the Ukraine Integrated Coastal Zone Management Project and the Croatia Nutrient Reduction Project. These projects are to serve as demonstration projects for further replication in the region. The Bank is also exploring opportunities to reduce nutrients in wastewaters from industries that were identified as hotspots in the Black Sea Diagnostic Analysis. Specifically, the Bank is currently exploring the possibility of blending an industrial WWT rehabilitation operation in the Turkish Black Sea region with a large Environment and Privatisation Support Adjustment Loan. If successful, this would be a good model for the entire basin.
 

Wetland Restoration. The Bulgarian Wetlands Restoration and Pollution Reduction Project is the first in the portfolio to be prepared in this sector. The project objective is to promote the adoption of sustainable natural resources management practices among local communities and authorities in the Persina Nature Park and Kalimok/Brushlen Protected Site areas. The project will help demonstrate how environmentally friendly rural development activities can improve livelihoods.

The global objective is to reduce transboundary nutrient and other agricultural pollution loads flowing into the Danube and Black Sea, while conserving biodiversity in the project area through wetlands restoration and protected areas management programs. The objective is also to support stakeholders in two protected areas in adopting environmentally- friendly activities.

In support of these objectives, the project will assist in:

• restoring priority wetlands in the Danube River Basin and piloting the use of riparian wetlands as nutrient traps
• establishing a comprehensive water quality and ecosystems monitoring system.
• supporting protected areas planning in the Persina Nature Park and Kalimok/Brushlen Protected Site
• strengthening the capacity to protect and manage biodiversity and natural resources
• building public awareness of biodiversity conservation
• promoting and supporting entrepreneurial and agricultural activities compatible with biodiversity conservation
• ensuring natural resource sustainability within the project region.
 

A web site on the Partnership (www.worldbank.org/blacksea-danube) was launched in November 2001 with the objective of disseminating information about the environmental problems of the Black Sea and Danube Basin and the Partnership. It is updated on a continuing basis.

A Distance Learning programme to disseminate knowledge about the causes of water pollution in the Black Sea and Danube Basin and possible solutions is being prepared. Examples for potential courses include: “Nutrient Management and Partnership in the Black Sea Basin”, “Experiences in other parts of the world – A case study: Adaptive Nutrient Management in the Chesapeake Bay Basin” and “International Financing for Nutrient Reduction”. The programme would be implemented over a period of 4-5 years. Pilot sessions will be carried out soon, involving environment ministers from the littoral countries, high level representatives of related government agencies, NGOs, private enterprises and a high-level World Bank manager. The pilot session will provide a forum for the participants to discuss with their counterparts and the World Bank their countries’ information needs, priorities and plans regarding the clean-up of the Black Sea and Danube Basin.

Important facts and considerations …

The Investment Fund Project Brief states that projects are to be funded on a first-come- first-served basis and none of the tranches may be earmarked. Projects in the pipeline are to be funded in the order in which their preparation activities are completed. The current state of preparation of the projects in the pipeline suggests that US$17.65 million of the first, US$20 million tranche of the Investment Fund will be used for the Romanian Agricultural Pollution Control, Bulgarian Wetlands Restoration and Nutrient Reduction, and Moldovan Agricultural Pollution Control projects. Furthermore, it is likely that the remaining funds from the first tranche, US$2.35 million, and the second tranche of US$16 million will be used to fund the Russian Rostov Reduction of Nutrient Discharges and Methane Emissions and the Turkish Agricultural Pollution Control projects.

The Investment Fund Project Brief stipulates an overall leveraging ratio of 1 (GEF) : 3 (other) by the end of the programme. The overall ratio targeted by the end of the second tranche is 1 : 2. Individual projects may have ratios as low as 1 : 0.5, although this applies mainly to countries with severe financial difficulties and or projects that are exceptionally effective in reducing nutrients.

A large variety of sources, including WB loans, client country government or other beneficiaries, and grants and loans from other international financiers, are acceptable for co- financing under the Investment Fund. Current projections indicate that the Investment Fund programme will surpass its co-funding targets in both tranches. Based on the likely project compositions of each tranche , the projects funded under the first tranche will leverage non-GEF funding of US$51.65 million, which corresponds to a leveraging ratio of 1 : 2.9. The projects that are likely to be funded under the second tranche will leverage US$74.8 million in non-GEF resources, yielding a ratio of 1 : 4.7.

In implementing the Investment Fund, the World Bank made a commitment to promoting policies that address nutrient reduction as part of its country dialogue and incorporating Danube/Black Sea restoration issues in its Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) development process.

The World Bank has adopted a strategy to phase out of Central and Eastern European Countries and into “poorer” Southeastern European countries, the Caucasus and Central Asia for further portfolio development. Some of the latter countries have per capita GDP and poverty levels that are comparable with the poorest regions of the world. The Bank believes that it can make the biggest difference in terms of poverty reduction in these countries. However, the wealthier countries of the Basin will continue to have access to grant funding under the Investment Fund through other IFIs which have executing agency status with the GEF, such as the EBRD. The implication of this trend for the Black Sea/Danube Investment Fund is related to the fact that poorer countries have more difficulty raising co-financing (own or other, such as EU) for a nutrient reduction intervention which, as a global issue, may not rank first in the country’s priority list. This is particularly true for the wastewater treatment sector where poorer countries have difficulty establishing and operating primary municipal and industrial wastewater treatment, let alone advanced secondary or tertiary treatment. Nevertheless the Bank has found creative solutions, including “blending” with related projects to produce synergies and ensure better sustainability and replicability prospects for the nutrient reduction projects. The Bank considers a varied approach to nutrient reduction investments under the Investment Fund (IF) that would maximize the Fund’s global benefits. In expanding its IF portfolio, the Bank intends to take into account the need:

• to broaden the scope of investment operations to creative approaches beyond the three sectors
• to try new financing modalities, such as contingent financing and public private partnerships
• to diversify nutrient reduction strategy according to the composition of nutrient pollution in different parts of the Black Sea
• to focus on nitrogen reduction, which is present in far larger quantities than phosphorus, while taking into account the ‘limiting factor’ of the eutrophication process.

The Bank is co-operating with the European Commission and its relevant programmes (ISPA, Phare, Tacis) to further advance donor co-operation on the Black Sea/Danube Basin. A more structured approach to donor co-operation in the Danube/Black Sea Region was the recent signing of a "Memorandum of Understanding on Common Strategic Goals" between the Danube and Black Sea commissions and the establishment of the DABLAS Task Force, which is focusing on project prioritisation and financing.

Regular contact with the UNDP/UNEP ensures co-ordination and co-operation between investment projects under the IF and the regional projects. Potential areas of close co-operation are training and regulatory reform. Co-ordination will ensure that synergies are achieved and overlap is avoided.

From Progress Report on World Bank-GEF
Nutrient Reduction Investment Fund: Tranche 2

Summary by Sema Acar, BSERP Co-ordinator

European Union continues its commitment to saving the Black Sea

With the Black Sea a key interface between the European Union and the former Soviet countries – as well as between three nations currently seeking EU membership, the sea’s vitality is a high priority for the Union.

It is a virtually landlocked sea, receiving a significant amount of drainage from Western Europe via the Danube River. In recognition of the sea’s importance to Europe, the European Commission (EC) is providing technical assistance to the Black Sea Environment Programme (BSEP). In May 2002, via its Tacis programme, the EC’s EuropeAid Office awarded a contract to a consortium led by the Netherlands-based company ARCADIS Euroconsult. Together with Mott MacDonald from the UK and BLR, headquartered in France, the consortium is implementing the EC support.

The current project is the third phase of a long-term assistance effort by the EC that commenced in 1996. This assistance will cover six separate components: strengthening the governance for implementing Convention provisions; developing various environmental protection strategies; gathering information on environmental quality indicators; data management and assessment; implementing remedial and/or proactive actions; and raising public awareness of Black Sea environmental issues.

The main focus will be the Secretariat of the Commission on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution, based in Istanbul, as well as water quality monitoring (from a base in Ukraine), integrated coastal zone management (from a base in Russia), and biodiversity protection (from a base in Georgia).

Building upon earlier Tacis support, the project will liase closely with the Global Environment Facility’s Black Sea Ecosystems Recovery Project, as there are many commonalities between the two that can be leveraged to the overall benefit of the BSEP. Further, the project will interact with the Danube-Black Sea task force that was established by the EU in November 2001 and endorsed by the Commission on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution in June 2002 as an informal mechanism for environmental co-operation in the Danube and Black Sea regions. A recent meeting of this task force focused on establishing criteria for the prioritising of projects eligible for funding by international financial institutions. The EC is also providing separate additional financial assistance directly to the Secretariat of the Black Sea Commission.

Ties van Kempen
Programme Manager
TACIS Support for the BSEP

The development of an environmental, management-driven research programme for the Black Sea

With its unique hydrological and biological features, the Black Sea has long been of interest to scientists. For over a century, they have been carrying out research into it, yet, despite compelling evidence of pollution (in particular eutrophication) and the degradation of marine habitats and communities, there have only been limited regional studies of these environmental problems.

Initial work on a systemic level was performed through a comprehensive Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis between 1993 and 1996. This identified the major sources of degradation and provided much-needed basic knowledge for drafting the Strategic Action Plan for Rehabilitation and Protection of the Black Sea, signed in October 1996.

In order to develop a coherent, environmental management-driven research programme, the main issue to be examined is what are the main gaps in setting targets for control of nutrients and hazardous substances in the Black Sea and how can these be closed or reduced by good and cost-effective science? There is an urgent need to advise the Black Sea Commission (BSC) on their future management by answering the following questions:

• What are the levels and quantities of nutrients (and hazardous substances) that will allow the Black Sea to recover?

• What are the environmental status indicators to be employed to determine if the Black Sea is recovering?

How is the Black Sea Environmental Programme (BSEP) planning to answer these questions?

It is important to eliminate uncertainties in our understanding of the causes and extent of pollution within the Black Sea, and in doing so, provide the coastal states and the BSC with a means to test the efficacy of regional policies and actions. In response to this need, the GEF project is currently planning two related interventions.

• Firstly, an integrated research study will be carried out focusing on the extent of the impact of pollution and the subsequent ecological response within the Black Sea.

• Secondly, a comprehensive and cost effective set of indicators will be introduced to monitor the manifestation of environmental impacts, the causes of the problem and the specific action to be taken to alleviate the problems.

Together, the studies will provide the BSC with sound knowledge about the baseline values of the main components of the Black Sea ecosystem, ultimately leading to the further elaboration of a comprehensive and cost-effective Black Sea Integrated Monitoring and Assessment System.

How will the Integrated Research Study be conducted?

The approach to be followed will use the best available research expertise from the region, supplemented where necessary by outside expertise. This component of the GEF intervention has been designed to allow the establishment of a research team, the International Study Group (ISG). This will have a specific cross-disciplinary mandate to provide clear evidence for the causes and effects of eutrophication and hazardous substances in the Black Sea. It will also be mandated to assess the likely effectiveness of measures proposed to control eutrophication within the framework of the current project.

The Project Co-ordinator, in consultation with the Executive Director of the Permanent Secretariat, has issued a ‘Call for Proposals’ for interdisciplinary membership of the ISG, as recommended by the Advisory Board. This will be a competitive process in which institutions are asked to present brief proposals of the contribution they intend to make to the overall research programme, according to key research activities (outlined below in Box 1). Successful candidates will be asked to nominate a research team leader to represent them on the ISG.

The first task of the ISG will be to formulate an integrated research study plan. This will be submitted for peer review (by selected scientists involved in the field in other comparable regions). The work will involve a maximum of four research cruises in the Black Sea (three water column sampling and one benthic survey). The study area may be extended to the Sea of Azov, if this is clearly justified. For the fieldwork, it will be necessary to make use of a local research vessel, selected by the Advisory Board on the basis of competitive specifications and cost.

In addition to the fieldwork, the project will support the interpretation and diffusion of satellite-based data on sea colour (to identify phytoplankton distribution in ‘real time’). Satellite colour data is readily accessible through the internet (for example, from the Sea WIFS satellite). The Advisory Board will recommend the appointment of one or more of these institutions to the Project Co-ordinator. The institution(s) will have responsibility for providing the interpreted satellite data to the network of Black Sea NGOs, the scientific community and the regulatory authorities.

The ISG will be expected to liase closely with the Black Sea Commission's Monitoring and Assessment Network and with other region-wide programmes or activities such as the Black Sea Global Ocean Observing System (Black Sea GOOS) of the IOC-UNESCO, UNEP-GIWA and UNEP Global Marine Assessment. The Network will be collecting information on the levels and effects of a wide range of contaminants in accordance with its mandate. The ISG will assist with the consolidation of its own research information and that of the Monitoring Network and other regional programmes/projects in order to produce a new ‘State of the Black Sea’ report.

What are environmental indicators?

Environmental indicators are physical, chemical, biological or socio-economic measures that best represent the key elements of a complex ecosystem or environmental issue. An indicator must be embedded in a well-developed interpretive framework and has meaning well beyond the measure it represents.

For example, phosphate concentration in the water is an indicator of eutrophication. The measured quantities of phosphate in the water of a certain place over a period of time represent the raw data. This data is collected, processed, and interpreted. It can be compared with the maximum allowed concentrations, with a certain target concentration aimed to be achieved by a certain date, or with data from the past. In these ways, the information is produced that shows by how much the phosphate concentration exceeds the allowed level, how good is compliance with standards, how likely is it that the forecast reduction in concentration will be achieved, or in which direction the situation is developing and what can be expected in the future.

How will indicators of the environmental status be introduced?

With respect to environmental status, the potential indicators that are available to monitor the extent of eutrophication or ecological damage by hazardous substances in the Black Sea over time will be evaluated from the results of Black Sea research activities and from other international studies. Indicators of eutrophication are likely to include chemical loads, nutrient concentrations, physical indicators, micro-algae, macro-algae, higher plants and sediment-dwelling organisms. A summary of the indicators that are judged to provide the most relevant information for the region will be presented to the Black Sea Commission after a period of consultation with the regional and international scientific community.

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) project will actively support the Black Sea countries with the region-wide introduction of environmental status indicators, making full use of the existing Black Sea Pollution Monitoring Network. Specific steps for implementing this activity are: (i) designation of monitoring institutions by the participating governments and provision of basic equipment and training by staff/consultants of the GEF PIU in the new scheme; (ii) design of a new monitoring programme incorporating environmental status indicators and its approval by the Black Sea Commission; and (iii) establishment of quality control procedures including inter-comparison exercises. This work will be closely co-ordinated with the Advisory Group on Pollution Monitoring and Assessment and the support offered to them by other international donor organisations (for example, EU Tacis).

Having agreed upon a comprehensive set of indicators, the new environmental status programme will be tested on a pilot scale. The countries will participate in the pilot programme within the framework of a formal agreement with the GEF Project Implementing Agency. This agreement will clearly specify all monitoring and reporting requirements for the pilot status programme, as well as the mutual liabilities of the parties.

The Project Co-ordinator will consult with the Advisory Group on Pollution Monitoring and Assessment, National Co-ordinators and the Executive Director of the Commission regarding the most appropriate sites for the pilot application. These should be large enough to permit a representative evaluation of the indicators at the cause level as well as through studies of environmental impacts. The BSC will evaluate the results of the exercise. The Commission will recommend whether or not to proceed to system-wide application in the next phase of the BSEP.

The final activity within this objective is the establishment of the information base for the BSC. This task will be completed with the support of UNEP-GRID, EC Tacis and an Inter-regional Forum, as well as by close liaison between all the specialist staff of the Commission and the Project. The information base will take a modular approach and the Commission will establish clear rules of access. This information base will be comprehensive and, in addition to the environmental status indicators, should include texts of regulations, projects, impact assessments, and so on that are essential inputs to future management of the Black Sea.

Pat Reynolds
Sectoral Reform and Monitoring Specialist
Black Sea Ecosystems Recovery Project

Research activities are open to competitive tender until late November 2002.

Further details are described on the PIU Website:  . Contact Dr. Pat Reynolds at the GEF PIU in Istanbul for further information at: mailto:pjreynolds@blacksea-environment.org.
 


Box 1: Key areas of research activity which need to be addressed in the Black Sea to help manage the impact of nutrients:

Uncertainties of nutrient flow and budget in Black Sea waters:

• River inputs, with respect to the role of dissolved organic nutrients and suspended material are unknown.
• The role of the sediment/water fluxes on the North West shelf is unclear.
• The contribution of atmospheric deposition of nutrients has not been evaluated.
• Mixing across the thermocline and horizontal mixing is poorly evaluated, especially in winter.
• Particle flux out of the system is poorly understood.

We are unclear on the operation of the water column with respect to the nutrients which are limiting algae growth

There is speculation about which nutrient (nitrogen, phosphorus or silica) is limiting the growth of algae between the NW shelf and the Bosphorus gyre.

The status of the marine ecosystem is unclear

What are the signs of benthic recovery?
Is the current practice of trawling likely to impede ecosystem recovery?

Innovative economic instruments for the control of eutrophication

Bringing down the level of nutrients and other hazardous substances in the Black Sea is a central long term objective of the Black Sea Ecosystem Recovery Project. The aim is to assist coastal countries in taking measures to reach the point where the Black Sea’s ecosystems can recover to conditions similar to those observed in the 1960s.

In order to achieve this objective, one of the components of the BSEP has been given two tasks:

• To formulate proposals for market-based or alternative economic instruments for limiting nutrient emissions • To establish private-public sector partnerships for environmental protection in the Black Sea.

For the current project to be successful, it is widely believed that it must assist the Black Sea Commission (BSC) in taking measures that are financially sustainable.

The lack of funding for environmental protection has been a perennial problem in the Black Sea region. In fact, in many developing countries funding for environmental management is very limited, while most of the government budget is directed toward economic development. However, over the last few years, development organisations have come to realise that if economic development proceeds at the expense of the environment, such development is ultimately unsustainable and may in fact impede economic development in the future -- costing society much more than if environmental management had been a part of economic development in the first place.

As the circumstances of countries in transition are unique and complex, innovative approaches to addressing existing pollution levels cannot simply be imported from industrialised countries (ICs). Approaches must instead be created with a full understanding of the priorities and economic realities of the region.

The main activity within this objective is a strategic analysis of the application of economic instruments for protecting the Black Sea from pollution -- with a special emphasis on nutrient control.

Examples of a range of possible economic instruments utilised in industrial countries are presented in Table 1 below. In many cases, these would have to be modified to ensure the desired effect on pollution levels, given the different economies in the Black Sea region, the existing monitoring being carried out, the legal system, the financial realities of private sector operators, the capacity of government staff and the ability of government agencies to enforce environmental standards. The analysis will be conducted on a country-by-country basis using a carefully co-ordinated approach to ensure regional comparability. In this manner, improvements may be suggested in order to attain regionally agreed objectives. The results can eventually be employed to examine the feasibility of a nutrient trading system (Phase 2 of the project).

As noted in other publications, the early 1990s saw a drop in pollution levels in the Black Sea, which has been attributed to lower economic activity. As economic activity picks up over the next decade, it is anticipated that pollution levels will again rise -- unless appropriate measures are implemented to guide economic development. Therefore, in order to ensure the long-term sustainability of this economic development, it is imperative that environmental planning in the coastal countries be integrated into economic development planning.

This work will require detailed analysis of all sectors of the riparian economies and will use macro indicators, primarily Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Sectoral loads and concentrations will also be calculated in order to provide knowledge of pollution impact and the costs to society. This approach will rely on:

• Physical relationships linking economic activity to environmental degradation • Valuation of environmental assets in order to derive a cost to society.

The beneficial impacts of introducing economic instruments to influence pollution levels can then be assessed and weighed against the cost of implementation, thereby providing decision makers and financiers with a cost-benefit analysis at the macro level.

Further work under this component will also:

• Examine opportunities for public-private sector partnership in measures to limit nutrients -- such as the introduction of phosphate-free detergents, new technology, organic farming, and so on • Evaluate the potential of local and/or regional financial intermediaries (for example, the Black Sea Regional Development Bank) as a means of channelling funding to small/medium sized bankable projects related to nutrient limitation and habitat restoration. • Jean Foerster Economist, GEF-PIU

Box: Examples of economic instruments applied in industrialised countries

Taxation: Any scheme where a charge is made on a product or activity. Terms like levy, charge and tax are generally interchangeable. Applied in a number of countries: Sweden, Austria, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Norway. Application is either at the manufacturer sales stage (Sweden) or on manure surpluses/farm mineral balances (Netherlands, Belgium, France).

 Liability (fines): Fines (as opposed to taxes) on excessive nutrient application, as applied in Denmark.

Direct Payments/Subsidy: Payments made to agents to secure specific environmental goals. An incentive element is most important when schemes are voluntary. Applied in many countries: Germany, Sweden, the UK and the US. Technically, should include widespread public provision of advice/assistance.

Cost sharing: Similar to direct payments, but with a contribution from the polluter. Applied widely in the US. Economic incentives are paramount in cost sharing bid procedures.

Tradeable rights: Allocation of rights to a specific pollution quota, for example, catchment wide maximum daily load. The main experience of this is in the US, although still at a developmental stage.

Cross compliance: Typically when a non-environmentally orientated direct payment is tied to environmental compliance. Applied notably in the US and Switzerland.

Eco-labelling: Labelling of products that have been produced using environmentally appropriate methods and materials. Applied in Switzerland and the US (not nutrients). To some extent applied in other countries in terms of ‘organic farming’.

 Rights purchase: Similar to direct payments. Involves the purchase of an agent’s right to pollute and typically, conservation banking of this right. Some experience in the US.

Public participation and stakeholder involvement

Nowadays, when trying to solve complex environmental problems it is widely considered good practice to apply a systematic and comprehensive ecosystem approach. This means accounting for the interrelationships between land, air, water and all living things -- including humans -- and involving all stakeholder groups in comprehensive management.

When we try to solve environmental problems through organised activities, this implies that society has recognised impaired beneficial uses for the environment and has decided to take measures to restore those uses. In the case of the Black Sea, the loss of recreational value of the sea’s coastal waters, or the reduced availability of fish for consumption are examples of impaired uses that demand action. Another example might be restricted access to beaches and valuable coastal landscapes coming as a result of construction work.

Any perceived environmental problem presents a conflict between different users of one and the same resource. For example, the building of a harbour on a coast where the local population likes to go swimming, or the dumping of waste in waters used for fishing demonstrate such conflicts. Some actors in society act for their own convenience, but by doing so deny other actors the opportunity to also act in the same way. Behind such conflicts there are interest groups, also known as stakeholders. Each of these has a certain right to benefit from the specific environment and wants to defend that right. This is how environmental conflicts appear, and respective environmental problems are demonstrated.

Logically, effective management of an environmental problem should not mean choosing and defending the rights of only one segment of the set of stakeholders. Regrettably though, this is generally what happens. What results is an incorrect model of public management, which has effectively provoked a response from civil society. This has been clearly demonstrated by the development of environmental movements world-wide.

When a stakeholder group has no chance of intervening in the decision making process and has no voice within it, the solution of the environmental problem gets transferred to the future, retaining tensions and compromising socio-economic progress in the community. These decisions are usually seen as unsustainable.

The ‘command and control’ type of public management is often blamed for bringing about such unsustainable decisions. Typically, central governments respond to problems by developing and implementing rules and by assuming that problems are well bounded, clearly defined and generally linear with respect to cause and effect.

As an alternative to rule driven public management, there is mission driven Adaptive Ecosystem-Based Management.

This is guided by the following criteria:

(Hartig et al. 1994)

Adaptive, ecosystem-based planning and management is an iterative learning process that integrates the environment with economic and social understanding. An ecosystem approach requires the involvement of resource managers, but also other stakeholders who are customers and suppliers of remedial and preventive actions.

In order to define a common vision, stakeholders must be involved at the beginning of a planning process. This encourages empowerment and local ownership of the process. For greater effectiveness, leaders should emerge from a stakeholder group and work in a co-operative manner. Consensus building among stakeholders may require educational programmes to achieve common understanding of problems, causes and sources.

Public participation and stakeholder involvement does not only refer to the right to be informed and represented at decision making events. It is also about taking ownership of remedial actions and programmes when possible. The gradual withdrawal of central government institutions by transferring the responsibility for programme management to local groups and associations (including municipalities) improves efficiency and guarantees long-term effects in a sustainable manner. Successful environmental programmes where this approach has been applied are described as:

- clean-up and prevention driven, not document driven
- those that make existing programmes and statutes work
- cutting through bureaucracy
- establishing priorities on a local basis and elevating them to municipal, regional and national governments
- ensuring strong community based planning process
- streamlining the critical path for solving the problem

A good example comes from the Great Lakes, where remedial actions in the Ontario region over environmental problems have been described as possessing the following critical features:

- strong partnerships with local communities
- empowerment of local stakeholders
- consensus based decision-making processes
- a strong commitment to public education and outreach
- public advisory committees existing which are viewed as equal partners
- remedial action plans viewed as co-ordinating mechanisms for restoring uses throughout areas of concern (a participatory agreed formulation)
- strong linkages between monitoring/research and management

Essentially, public participation is the process of ensuring that those who have an interest or stake in a decision are involved in making that decision.

Participation is basically about involving the additional human resources of society when acting to try and solve problems. The forms of involvement range from passive participation, where people are told what is happening and act according to predetermined roles, to self-mobilisation, where people take initiatives and act independently by having control of the process.

Types of participation can be:

INFORMATION – when people are informed what has been decided or has happened, or participation is used for informal gathering of information to develop solutions based on people’s knowledge. No participation in decision-making is in place.
CONSULTATION – participation by formally consulting, with no obligation to take into account the opinions given when making decisions.
IMPLEMENTING – when participants are invited to implement ready made plans, a procedure used especially to reduce costs.
SHARED DECISIONS – people participate in the joint analysis of situations and the development of action plans. Such processes involve capacity building – the strengthening of local groups or institutions.
SELF DETERMINATION – people participate at the system level in solving a social problem. They take initiatives over planning and implementation of policies independently. They contact external institutions for the resources and technical advice they need, but retain control over how the resources are used.

This “participation ladder” does not only visualise the level of development of civil organisations. It also visualises the level of understanding existing in the official institutions of public management of the need for and benefits to be derived from a “participatory” management process.

An effective and modern management:

- is OPEN to participation, where it is anticipated and facilitated
- is seen as a CO-OPERATIVE LEARNING PROCESS
- INVESTS IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE CAPACITY of the stakeholders to participate effectively.

Participation is a political process. At its core, it requires a conscious will to share power with a wider range of stakeholders. Without the cultural and political decision to share power, participation is simply public relations at its most cynical.

However, power sharing is not about handing over control of decisions, resources and budgets to others. It is about sharing that control equitably.

Ivan Banchev
Public Participation Specialist
Black Sea Ecosystems Recovery Project

Although regional in scope, the significance of the Aarhus Convention is global. It is by far the most impressive elaboration of Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration, which stresses the need for citizens’ participation in environmental issues and for access to information on the environment held by public authorities. As such it is the most ambitious venture in the area of ‘environmental democracy’ so far undertaken under the auspices of the United Nations.

Kofi A. Annan, Secretary-General of the United Nations


The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (1992)

Principle 10: Environmental issues are best handled with the participation of all concerned citizens, at the relevant level. At the national level, each individual shall have appropriate access to information concerning the environment that is held by public authorities, including information on hazardous materials and activities in their communities, and the opportunity to participate in decision-making processes. States shall facilitate and encourage public awareness and participation by making information widely available. Effective access to judicial and administrative proceedings, including redress and remedy, shall be provided.


The UNECE Convention on access to information, public participation in decision- making and access to justice in environmental matters

(The Aahrhus Convention 1998, built on the Sofia Guidelines adopted by ministers in 1995 as a consequence of Principle 10 of UNCED 1992).

Key Propositions:

The concepts behind public participation need to be articulated and understood throughout society…

* Recognition of the dual aim of the public participation regime – bringing both the aims of environmental protection and the aims of social justice to bear upon the quality of environmental decision-making, both in its implementation and in its outcome. Equal opportunity of involvement in decision-making is essential – if only a few with greater resources can use the system, then decisions may well favour vested interests rather than society and future generations as a whole.

* A robust system of public participation needs guarantees of rights, equality of access to information and of participation opportunities, and of access to justice. Without guarantees that can be seen to work in practice, the credibility of any system will be quickly undermined.

* Capacity building is an indispensable element of any public participation system, requiring conscious efforts with respect to education, awareness, debate, improved efficiency, collection and dissemination of information and the establishment of a socially inclusive process.

The Bank advises governments, however, to welcome a wider role for NGOs and to allow and foster "a strong civil society participating in public affairs," because of the capacity of civil society organisations to mediate between individuals and the state, to inform public debate, to perform social functions, and to hold governments accountable".

World Bank Handbook on NGOs


"Democracy is a system based on trust in human responsibility. This responsibility, however, has to be constantly nurtured and cultivated.
The state should not believe that it alone knows better than anyone else what society needs. It should trust its citizens and enable them to share in a substantial way in exercising the responsibility for the condition of society.
To this end, it should offer them a wide range of opportunities for engaging in public life and developing diverse forms of civic coexistence, solidarity and participation."

Vaclav Havel
President of the Czech Republic
CIVITAS Conference
 


Public Involvement in GEF-Financed Projects

The GEF Council, Washington D.C., June 1996
Global Environment Facility's (GEF) policy
on public involvement in GEF-financed projects


4. Effective public involvement is critical to the success of GEF-financed projects. When done appropriately, public involvement improves the performance and impact of projects by:
- enhancing recipient country ownership of, and accountability for, project outcomes;
- addressing the social and economic needs of affected people;
- building partnerships among project executing agencies and stakeholders; and
- making use of skills, experiences, and knowledge, in particular, of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), community and local groups, and the private sector in the design, implementation, and evaluation of project activities.

5. Public involvement consists of three related, and often overlapping, processes: information dissemination, consultation, and ‘stakeholder’ participation. Stakeholders are the individuals, groups, or institutions that have an interest or stake in the outcome of a GEF-financed project. The term also applies to those potentially affected by a project. Stakeholders include recipient country governments, implementing agencies, project executing agencies, groups contracted to conduct project activities at various stages of the project, and other groups in the civil society which may have an interest in the project.

8. Stakeholder participation is where stakeholders collaboratively engage, as appropriate, in the identification of project concepts and objectives, selection of sites, design and implementation of activities, and monitoring and evaluation of projects. Developing strategies for incorporating stakeholder participation throughout the project cycle is particularly necessary in projects which impact the incomes and livelihoods of local groups, especially disadvantaged populations in and around project sites (for example, indigenous communities, women, and poor households).

9. … Effective public involvement should enhance the social, environmental, and financial sustainability of projects.

10. … By improving project performance and sharing accountability for project outcomes, public involvement contributes to the environmental and financial sustainability of projects. Further, to be socially sustainable, projects should, as appropriate, address the social, cultural, and economic needs of people affected by GEF-financed projects.

12 … To be effective, public involvement activities should be broad and sustainable. The Implementing Agencies will include in project budgets, as needed, the financial and technical assistance necessary for recipient governments and project executing agencies to ensure effective public involvement.

13. … The Implementing Agencies will support project executing agencies in: (a) providing relevant, timely, and accessible information to as many stakeholders as possible; (b) facilitating broad as well as project-specific consultations, especially at the local or sub-national levels; and (c) promoting the participation of stakeholder groups throughout the project cycle. This promotion includes awareness raising and capacity strengthening activities.
Public involvement activities will be conducted in a transparent and open manner. All GEF-financed projects should have full documentation of public involvement activities.

15. … Facilitate the exchange of best practices on public involvement among recipient
governments, the Implementing Agencies, project executing agencies, and other stakeholders with a view to ensuring that lessons are incorporated into design of future projects;
In collaboration with the Implementing Agencies, explore ways in which roles of NGOs and other stakeholders can be strengthened in project preparation, design, implementation, and evaluation, and conduct periodic assessments of the effectiveness of public involvement in projects; and
Ensure that funding is available to recipient governments, executing agencies, and, as appropriate, NGOs for conducting effective public involvement.

Largely based on materials from:
John H. Hartig (American Review of Canadian Studies, Great Lakes Remedial Action Plans),
WWF European Freshwater Programme (Public participation training materials),
World Bank’s internal ‘Learning Group on Participatory Development’ (survey conclusions),
European ECO Forum (Implementing Rio Principles in Europe, 2001)
Salzburg Seminar (A Decision-Maker's Guide to the Third Sector).

Innovative economic instruments for the control of eutrophication

Bringing down the level of nutrients and other hazardous substances in the Black Sea is a central long term objective of the Black Sea Ecosystem Recovery Project. The aim is to assist coastal countries in taking measures to reach the point where the Black Sea’s ecosystems can recover to conditions similar to those observed in the 1960s.

In order to achieve this objective, one of the components of the BSEP has been given two tasks:

• To formulate proposals for market-based or alternative economic instruments for limiting nutrient emissions • To establish private-public sector partnerships for environmental protection in the Black Sea.

For the current project to be successful, it is widely believed that it must assist the Black Sea Commission (BSC) in taking measures that are financially sustainable.

The lack of funding for environmental protection has been a perennial problem in the Black Sea region. In fact, in many developing countries funding for environmental management is very limited, while most of the government budget is directed toward economic development. However, over the last few years, development organisations have come to realise that if economic development proceeds at the expense of the environment, such development is ultimately unsustainable and may in fact impede economic development in the future -- costing society much more than if environmental management had been a part of economic development in the first place.

As the circumstances of countries in transition are unique and complex, innovative approaches to addressing existing pollution levels cannot simply be imported from industrialised countries (ICs). Approaches must instead be created with a full understanding of the priorities and economic realities of the region.

The main activity within this objective is a strategic analysis of the application of economic instruments for protecting the Black Sea from pollution -- with a special emphasis on nutrient control.

Examples of a range of possible economic instruments utilised in industrial countries are presented in Table 1 below. In many cases, these would have to be modified to ensure the desired effect on pollution levels, given the different economies in the Black Sea region, the existing monitoring being carried out, the legal system, the financial realities of private sector operators, the capacity of government staff and the ability of government agencies to enforce environmental standards. The analysis will be conducted on a country-by-country basis using a carefully co-ordinated approach to ensure regional comparability. In this manner, improvements may be suggested in order to attain regionally agreed objectives. The results can eventually be employed to examine the feasibility of a nutrient trading system (Phase 2 of the project).

As noted in other publications, the early 1990s saw a drop in pollution levels in the Black Sea, which has been attributed to lower economic activity. As economic activity picks up over the next decade, it is anticipated that pollution levels will again rise -- unless appropriate measures are implemented to guide economic development. Therefore, in order to ensure the long-term sustainability of this economic development, it is imperative that environmental planning in the coastal countries be integrated into economic development planning.

This work will require detailed analysis of all sectors of the riparian economies and will use macro indicators, primarily Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Sectoral loads and concentrations will also be calculated in order to provide knowledge of pollution impact and the costs to society. This approach will rely on:

• Physical relationships linking economic activity to environmental degradation • Valuation of environmental assets in order to derive a cost to society.

The beneficial impacts of introducing economic instruments to influence pollution levels can then be assessed and weighed against the cost of implementation, thereby providing decision makers and financiers with a cost-benefit analysis at the macro level.

Further work under this component will also:

• Examine opportunities for public-private sector partnership in measures to limit nutrients -- such as the introduction of phosphate-free detergents, new technology, organic farming, and so on • Evaluate the potential of local and/or regional financial intermediaries (for example, the Black Sea Regional Development Bank) as a means of channelling funding to small/medium sized bankable projects related to nutrient limitation and habitat restoration. • Jean Foerster Economist, GEF-PIU

Box: Examples of economic instruments applied in industrialised countries

Taxation: Any scheme where a charge is made on a product or activity. Terms like levy, charge and tax are generally interchangeable. Applied in a number of countries: Sweden, Austria, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Norway. Application is either at the manufacturer sales stage (Sweden) or on manure surpluses/farm mineral balances (Netherlands, Belgium, France).

 Liability (fines): Fines (as opposed to taxes) on excessive nutrient application, as applied in Denmark.

Direct Payments/Subsidy: Payments made to agents to secure specific environmental goals. An incentive element is most important when schemes are voluntary. Applied in many countries: Germany, Sweden, the UK and the US. Technically, should include widespread public provision of advice/assistance.

Cost sharing: Similar to direct payments, but with a contribution from the polluter. Applied widely in the US. Economic incentives are paramount in cost sharing bid procedures.

Tradeable rights: Allocation of rights to a specific pollution quota, for example, catchment wide maximum daily load. The main experience of this is in the US, although still at a developmental stage.

Cross compliance: Typically when a non-environmentally orientated direct payment is tied to environmental compliance. Applied notably in the US and Switzerland.

Eco-labelling: Labelling of products that have been produced using environmentally appropriate methods and materials. Applied in Switzerland and the US (not nutrients). To some extent applied in other countries in terms of ‘organic farming’.

 Rights purchase: Similar to direct payments. Involves the purchase of an agent’s right to pollute and typically, conservation banking of this right. Some experience in the US.

Bringing together public action: towards a healthy Black Sea and a sustainable future

During the last few decades, the rapid environmental deterioration of the Black Sea has been a growing concern to the people of the countries ranged around it, and particularly to those living on its shores. The evident decline of this unique natural resource, which is shared by Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine, has prompted several socially responsible groups to initiate public dialogue on the necessity for urgent measures to protect the sea.

First, the scientists rang the alarm bell. Later, both the governments and the general public became involved. After years of negotiations, in 1992 the six Black Sea countries signed the Convention for the Protection of the Black Sea against Pollution, known as the Bucharest Convention. Later they requested assistance from the Global Environment Fund (GEF) in order to provide a practical programme of action, known as the Black Sea Environmental Programme (BSEP), which was founded in 1993.

BSEP assisted the coastal countries in the preparation of the Strategic Action Plan for the Rehabilitation and Protection of the Black Sea, signed in 1996. This made specific provisions for active government and active public involvement in the complex processes involved in bringing the sea back from its state of degradation. The Black Sea NGO forum, the first attempt at a regional level to bring together environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs), was specifically mentioned in the Plan and further recommendations were made for co-operation and data exchange with the NGO network. The logical response of the Black Sea NGO community was the establishment of the Black Sea NGO Network (BSNN), which became fully operational in 2000. In this way, the Black Sea NGO community received a new instrument for more effective and professional influence in the regional decision making process and for participation in solving regional environmental problems.

Moving into the new century provided us all with an excellent opportunity to reflect on the amount of change we had undergone, especially looking back to the meeting in September 1998, when the idea for the establishment of the BSNN was first put forward. Our joint efforts have successfully translated this idea into reality. For the BSNN, the changes and developments over the past year have been particularly significant – with a network of members in the six Black Sea countries, the successful institutionalisation of the BSNN and, last but not least, the establishment of good working relations within the BSNN community and the achievement of a better understanding of the problems and expectations surrounding the future activities of network members.

Developing a profile

The start of every new organisation is rarely a smooth and easy period. The existence of the BSNN is the direct result of the development and maturation of civil society in the six Black Sea countries, promoted by the democratic changes under way in the region. This positive development holds a great potential for the future, especially in view of the involvement of citizens in developing solutions to the issues the Black Sea raises -- issues of great public concern.

As an instrument of the general public, the BSNN performs an essential role in the development of civil society. It is also promoting sound civil practices that influence the political process and decision-making, while reflecting citizens’ concerns about the quality of the living environment and the future. It is clear that saving the Black Sea requires joint action toward common objectives by all coastal countries. The international NGO community can successfully stimulate this process. The BSNN has the capacity to develop into an organisation capable of influencing politics locally, nationally and regionally with regard to the adoption of democratic practices and effective real civic participation in decision-making.

As an association of NGOs from all the Black Sea countries, the BSNN represents active social groups reflecting a diverse cultural background and specific areas of interest. Currently, some 61 NGOs are members, with 14 from Bulgaria, nine from Georgia, five from Romania, 10 from Russia, six from Turkey and 17 from Ukraine. These organisations cover a wide range of environmental NGOs, from think tanks to grass roots action groups, as well as associations of coastal municipalities, educational and scientific organisations, professional associations and NGOs working with marginalised groups. What brings them all together is the common concern for the decreasing environmental quality of the Black Sea and the need for the adoption of democratic values and practices that follow the ideals of sustainability in the Black Sea countries. These are seen as indispensable in working out issues of primary concern within the BSNN.

Working together

Within a short period of time, the BSNN achieved functional capacity in a region where traditions of co-operation between civic structures were virtually non-existent. The presence of the organisation was effectively announced to the public and made evident to those institutions and parties which were concerned with the state of the Black Sea’s environment and the future of the region. Since then, the BSNN has embarked on the road to becoming an institution of civil society, with functioning decision-making and executive structures performing multi-year strategic development plans and demonstrating a good level of cohesion and agreement on the common objectives of the organisation.

The BSNN has been seeking new forms to respond to changes and reflect them in its planning process. With the Strategic Planning and Fundraising Team (SPFT), the organisation has devised a mechanism for the integration of member expectations over the network’s long-term development into planning. Considering the underlying importance of applying the concept of sustainability to the environment and human well being, the BSNN team of experts made a recommendation that BSNN activities put an emphasis on the promotion of sustainability practices in Black Sea societies. Following the SPFT recommendations, the BSNN has been preparing project proposals envisaging activities intended to give an impetus to the adoption of sound civil society expertise in the region.

These activities cover several areas:

• Development and strengthening the Black Sea NGO Network • Co-operation of Network NGOs with municipalities in the development of Local Agenda 21 plans and in the improvement of public spending transparency • Analysis and promotion of Integrated Coastal Zone Management practice in the Black Sea countries, including putting pressure on the authorities • Establishment of Information and Resource Centres on Black Sea issues in each country • Promotion of sustainable business activities through incentives and the establishment of procedures for reacting against harmful projects/businesses.

Further efforts will be adopted to reflect the variety of members’ interests and priorities in a more balanced manner. One of the BSNN’s ongoing tasks is to unite members around common visions which do not contradict their varied directions and types of activities. These run from direct action, field activities and environmental awareness campaigns to the introduction of environmental context in formal education and expert work on lobbying and advocacy on major environmental issues. This presents an additional challenge for the network’s development.

Permanent observer at the BSC

The Black Sea NGO Network saw important developments in 2001 in terms of gaining experience and recognition. The BSNN was granted the status of permanent observer at the Commission on the Protection of the Black Sea against Pollution (BSC) at its seventh regular meeting in Istanbul between May 29–31, 2001. The recognition of the BSNN as a partner of the BSC and a representative of the regional environmental NGO community was achieved through the joint efforts and involvement of all BSNN members and activists. The BSC welcomed the BSNN’s commitment and contribution to the implementation of the Strategic Action Plan and to the development of civil society in the region.

Ema Gileva

Coordinator Regional Office Black Sea NGO Network

Regional Meeting of Black Sea NGOs sees renewed commitment to co-operation

 Over 40 representatives of Black Sea NGOs from the six coastal countries came together in Varna, Bulgaria between 3–6 October 2002 for a regional meeting entitled “Fostering co-operation between decision-makers and the NGO community in the Black Sea region”.

 The event was organised by the Black Sea NGO Network with financial support from the Open Society Institute and the East-East Programme. The participants clearly indicated their commitment to continue working together and support regional efforts aimed at the solution of Black Sea issues. They reviewed the process of implementation of the Black Sea Strategic Action Plan and expressed support for the efforts of the coastal governments and international financial institutions to implement activities aimed at the recovery of the Black Sea ecosystems. The participants agreed to meet again in Romania next year to discuss the issue of nutrient reduction. Another meeting in Ukraine was scheduled for 2004 within the long term strategy of involving NGOs in the regional decision-making process.

  Activity Centres              
  Prefix First Name Last Name Organization Name Work Phone Fax Number E-mail Address  
  Bulgaria              
  Mr. Lyubomir Stoyanov  ESAS AC 35952633553 35952602378 riseco@mbox.digsys.bg  
              erac_temp@abv.bg  
  Georgia              
  Mr. Akaki Khomakhidze Georgian Marine Ecology and 99522274640 99522274642 mefri@basri.net  
  Fisheries Research Institute              
  Romania              
  Mr. Simion Nicolaev National Institute for Marine 4041543288 4041831274 nicolaev@alpha.rmri.ro  
  Research and Development              
  Russian Federation              
  Mr. Leonid Yarmak Krasnodar StateCommittee for 78612683261 78612685645 iczm@krasnodar.ru  
  Environmental Protection              
  Turkey              
  Dr. Erdogan Okus Istanbul University Institute of 902125282539 902125268433 erokus@istanbul.edu.tr  
  Marine Sciences              
  Ukraine              
  Prof Valeriy Mikhailov Ukrainian Center of Sea Ecology 380482636622 380482636673 accem@te.net.ua  

The team at the Black Sea Commission Headquarters at Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul

 


Permanent Secretariat of the Black Sea Commission

Mr. Plamen Dzhadzhev       – Executive Director

Ms. Oksana Tarasova           - PMA officer

Mr. Kiril Iliev                         - IT expert

Ms. Sabina Salpagarova     - Technical Assistant

Ms. Suna Dedeoglu             - Expert

 

GEF/UNDP Black Sea Ecosystem Recovery Project PIU

Ms. Sema Acar                     - Project Coordinator 

Mr. Pat Reynolds                 - Sectoral Reform and Monitoring Specialist

Mr. Jean Foerster                 - Economist

Mr. Ivan Banchev                - Public Participation Specialist

Ms. Arzu Dogan                  - Accountant

Mr. Naim Cavdir                   - Driver

 

TACIS Technical Assistance to BSEP

Wim Verheught                    - Project Director

Ties van Kempen                 - Project Manager

Anthony Smith                     - RAC Team Leader

Meltem Koksal                     - Project Assistant

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