NATO Advanced Study Institute "Watershed approach to Environmental Security"
Advanced Study Institute
Watershed Approach to Environmental Security:
Fostering integrated water management in the Azov Sea Basin
Institute idea and objectives
Degradation of freshwater ecosystems is considered to be one of the biggest non-military threats to human society. Access to fresh water is becoming one of the factors limiting development and it might be a major source for conflicts in near future. The cascades of dams were erected on every European river resulting in substantial modification of environmental conditions and corresponding economic, social and international problems. The degradation of the Sea of Azov, once one of the most productive seas in the world, is a characteristic example of anthropogenic catastrophes.
By the end of 20th century river basins have been finally recognized as the most appropriate territorial units for integrated water resources management (IWRM) and sustainable development. Though lacking commonly accepted definitions and methodology, the concept of integrated watershed management (IWM) possess high potential in securing regional sustainable development and enhancing environmental security. Unfortunately, not enough attention has been paid to the interdisciplinary
nature of the processes involved. IWRM is often understood by managers and scientists in a narrow way defined by commercial interests, academic background, professional training and other factors. On the other hand, the concept of environmental security is also interpreted in a variety of ways.
The main objectives of the Institute are:
- To provide specialists in watershed management and sustainable use of aquatic bio-resources with interdisciplinary overview of corresponding scientific, managerial and social issues;
- To enhance existing academic programs on integrated water management with interdisciplinary perspective and practical experience;
- To advance concepts of environmental security and IWM among academic and environmental communities and facilitate their application within practical water management;
- To communicate the best world practices in trans-boundary water management to national and regional authorities and scientific communities;
- To initiate joint projects in rehabilitation of freshwater ecosystems and trans-boundary cooperation;
- To stimulate restoration of sturgeon species in the Sea of Azov, once the most productive sturgeon habitat.
The lectures will be devoted to state-of-the-art in various aspects of environmental security, river rehabilitation and IWM. The course syllabus is divided into three modules:
- Scientific foundations (overview of related disciplines, technologies; etc);
- Legislative, political and institutional concerns (national laws, international conventions, organizations, etc);
- Economic, social (education, mass media, etc).
The Faculty is comprised of university professors, environmental practitioners and representatives of international organizations to give both theoretical and practical interdisciplinary insight into the topics considered.
The Don river basin (the main tributary of the Sea of Azov) shared between Russia and Ukraine will be used as a case study. This area is one of the most economically developed and densely populated parts in both Russia and Ukraine and provides an interesting case for analysis. The regional practitioners and authorities from various industries as well as other stakeholders will present and defend their position and needs in water management.
Preliminary discussion topics
- Concepts and definitions in Environmental Security and Watershed Management;
- Best practices and experience in trans-boundary IWM;
- European Water Framework Directive, progress and applicability to the Azov Sea region;
- Basin Concept of Sustainable Development;
- International agreements and trans-boundary cooperation in IWM: problems and perspectives;
- Institutional aspects of IWRM and environmental security;
- Economic and Social aspects of IWRM, Public participation and stakeholder involvement;
- Protected Areas in River Basins;
- Community-based resources management;
- IWM technologies: river rehabilitation, water treatment and monitoring, biodiversity conservation, etc;
- Migratory species conservation: securing natural sturgeon reproduction;
- Information technologies in IWRM and regional planning. GIS and modeling;
- Role of dams in river degradation and ways to achieve close-to-nature river stream characteristics (environmental flows);
- Environmental problems of the Azov Sea Basin and holistic interdisciplinary approach to their resolution; Perspectives for ecosystem rehabilitation;
- Education as a key factor for successful IWRM. Improvement of existing and development of new interdisciplinary IWM courses.
The target group for the Institute consists of postgraduate students or young scientists working in diverse areas of IWRM, freshwater systems rehabilitation or corresponding environmental security areas. The second target group consists of water practitioners and environmental managers. Although the participation in the Institute is mainly by invitation, a limited number of applications will be accepted.