RDP aims to ensure a regional dialogue among relevant stakeholders in SEE on goals, strategies, concepts, roles and practices in the water and wastewater sector. The project was also established through a grant agreement with GIZ and SDC, the overall objective being to set up a structure of work packages that would support various types of dialogue and interaction. The project was structured in three work packages. Under the first work package, support was provided to the Danube Water Conference. The second and third work packages aim to establish thematic working groups on priority topics and to ensure the preconditions for sustainability of the Regional Dialogue Platform respectively.
An important part of the grants is to foster the dialogue between municipalities and water utility operators. In most SEE countries involved in this project, the municipalities are also the owners of public utilities providing water supply and wastewater services. Grants, loans, and investments in these public utilities were made; however, numerous problems remain and the dialogue supported by this project is to further the adequacy and sustainability of water supply and wastewater services. In particular, the project supports multi-stakeholders at the municipal (public utilities and municipal officials) and national levels (regulators and line ministries) that rarely meet to jointly discuss issues affecting both the water supply and wastewater sectors in SEE. This project focuses on improving the regional dialogue on water and wastewater between associations of municipalities and associations of public utilities in South-East Europe as well as among other actors influencing water and wastewater services. The proposed dialogue platform offers a multi-stakeholder and multi-level – municipal, national and regional – intervention that will include a mechanism for the regional dissemination of results through various channels including the NALAS Knowledge Centre.
The first work package covered the successful implementation of the Danube Water Conference 2015, the main regional dialogue event, which in general becomes a leading water conference brand in the region. Around 160 key sector representatives from national utility associations, the regional network of associations of local authorities, water and wastewater utilities, line ministries, regulatory authorities, the donor community and other international associations gathered, now already traditionally, to discuss progress made and challenges lying ahead in the water supply and sanitation sector in South-East Europe.
Under the second work package, a Working Group on Asset Management was established to align the activities of the two parallel programmes DWP and GIZ/ORF/MMS. This initiative turned into a fruitful discussion regarding potential further co-operation between the two programmes. The working group participants form NALAS and IAWD organized the first meeting in January 2015 in Skopje. Ever since the WG AM held regular coordination meetings where the on-going project implementation issues where discussed, coordinated and measures were taken by the organisations respectively. One of the very important and significant results of the cooperation within the WG AM was NALAS being able to more clearly focus its AM project and establish a cooperation with the experts from DWP AM project through which in further course NALAS decided to develop an “Asset Management Business Planning Tool”. The base for operation of this tool is the work done by the DWP AM Project with the Public Utility Companies and the output data which the tool uses to develop business planning models which are aimed to be presented to local decision makers (Municipalities). Ultimately, this tool represents a technical communication bridge between the Public Utility Companies and the Local Authorities / Decision Makers / Municipalities. The draft of this tool was presented in the final WG AM meeting held on 25th January 2016 and initially accepted by the WG AM. This tool shall be made available by NALAS by the end of the NALAS AM project and made available to respective stakeholders through the established cooperation between NALAS and IAWD. Further activities under the second working package were development of the IAWD knowledge centre and support of publications, participation at reginal events and development of further cooperative efforts. The IAWD website, technically enabling knowledge management, has been developed as one of the results of this project and shall go online after acceptance of the IAWD board members.
Supported by the third working package of this project, and growing on the existing successful cooperation on several occasions, IAWD and the local authorities association network, NALAS established a Memorandum of Understanding between the associations which defines the basic future cooperation modalities for sustainability of the established regional dialogue platform. The MoU represents willingness of partners for further cooperation, sets areas of cooperation between two networks including joint events that foster dialogue, joint publications, working groups, contribution to sector policies, joint cooperation with national governments in frame of South-East Europe Strategy 2020 and Regional Cooperation Council. Further, through the third working package of this project, the Business Model / Plan for IAWD has been developed with the aim to contribute to sustainability of RDP and is one of the major result of RDP project.
By way of summary, the Regional Dialogue Platform project has introduced a new level of cooperation between the stakeholders in the sector. The cooperation established between the strongest regional Associations of Public Utility Companies and Local Authorities provides the means for sustainability of the regional dialogue platform. The IAWD has achieved significant gains to further strengthen its position as the focal point for dialogue of the water sector stakeholders in the Danube region.