Dialogue on Georgia’s Progress and Challenges in meeting EU Water standards
The 10th National Policy Dialogue on Water was held in Tbilisi, Georgia, followed by technical workshops on water financing and environmental reporting. The meeting and workshops are organised with the support of the European Union. By involving different stakeholders, this multi-sectoral platform is helping to reform water policy to meet national goals and international commitments.
Ms Nino Tandilashvili, First Deputy Minister of Environment Protection and Agriculture of Georgia and Mr Nicholas Cendrowicz, the Head of Cooperation Section at the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia welcomed the guests and delivered opening remarks.
Led by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture and organised in cooperation with the “EU4Environment – Water Resources and Environmental Data” programme, the discussion focused on the alignment with water-related EU directives in the context of sectoral action and climate change. The participants discussed how to make operational the new Law on Water Resources Management ahead of its entry into force in September 2026. Special attention was given to the finalisation and adoption of river basin management plans.
The meeting also addressed issues such as water-saving technologies and pollution from agriculture and accelerating investment needs for the construction of wastewater treatment plants to protect human health and ecosystems. The financial sustainability of Georgia’s water sector was discussed in detail the following day at a special workshop on financing water security. Lessons learned from the joint monitoring of surface and groundwater resources with Armenia in the Khrami-Debed basin and next steps were also identified.
Ms Nino Tandilashvili, First Deputy Minister, Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia said: “In the context of the previous (9th) National Policy Dialogue, held in 2022, a noteworthy paradigm shift occurred at a time when the legislation on “Water Resources Management” had not yet been approved. This shift was facilitated by a series of working meetings, active stakeholder engagement and extensive consultations. The main provisions of the aforementioned legislation are scheduled to come into force on 1 September 2026, ushering in the implementation of the river basin management mechanism in the country. At the same time, through collaborative efforts with the European Union, we have strengthened the national water monitoring system, which helps us to assess the quantitative and qualitative state of water resources throughout the country. The second major development that marked the previous year was the granting of EU candidate status to Georgia. We recognise that both the Government of Georgia and every citizen of the country have a collective responsibility to exert heightened efforts. This commitment is imperative to meet all the requirements for EU membership and to secure a commendable place within the European community.”
Mr Nicholas Cendrowicz, the Head of Cooperation at the Delegation of the European Union to Georgia said: “As an EU candidate country, Georgia will need to take ownership of reforms in the water sector, building on last year’s Law on Water Resources Management. We trust that these reforms will be designed and implemented with strong involvement of all stakeholders, including Georgia’s international partners.”
The meeting was attended by representatives from the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture as well as from the Infrastructure, Finance and Health sectors. Numerous participants represented Regional Administrations and Universities, expert institutions and NGOs. Representatives of the EU Delegation to Georgia and international organisations and donors working in the Georgian water sector attended as well.
Speaking on behalf of the EU programme’s implementing partners, Mr Alexander Zinke, Environment Agency Austria said: “Like other countries of the European Union’s Eastern Partnership region, Georgia improves step by step its environment management. Still, many daily practices result in pollution and overexploitation of water resources, also at transboundary level. We are pleased to support Georgia’s many efforts to approach EU standards, such as with river basin planning, regular monitoring and more sustainable water use, as well as in collecting and publishing more data, also on land use, waste management and air pollution. Overall, the adoption of the Water Law is a big milestone towards EU compliance.”
Driven by overdemand, mismanagement and the impacts of the triple crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution, water stress is increasing worldwide. At the same time, water is essential for the resilience of both societies and the environment.
Georgia relies on its water resources not only for household, agricultural and industrial use, but also for the biggest part of its power generation. Tensions between these competing uses have emerged and may increase due to climate change impacts. Water must therefore be seen as a truly cross-sectoral issue touching all areas of the economy and the lives of citizens. Although water is abundant in Georgia, its quality and quantity vary widely. Wastewater discharged into rivers, lakes and aquifers is insufficiently treated, triggering risks and associated health problems for the population and ecosystems
Georgia has committed to reform water policies and practices as part of its Association Agreement with the European Union. This includes alignment with the EU water law, in particular, the Water Framework Directive (WFD).
For over a decade, the European Union has provided comprehensive support for reforming the water sector in Georgia. Both investment and technical support projects are ongoing.
The EU4Environment Water and Data programme aims at improving people’s wellbeing in EU’s Eastern Partner Countries and enabling their green transformation in line with the European Green Deal and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The two main objectives are to support a more sustainable use of water resources and to improve the use of sound environmental data and their availability for policy-makers and citizens. The programme is implemented by five Partner organisations: Environment Agency Austria (UBA), Austrian Development Agency (ADA), International Office for Water (OiEau) (France), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). The programme is principally funded by the European Union, and co-funded by the Austrian Development Cooperation and the French Artois-Picardie Water Agency based on a budget of EUR 12,75 million (EUR 12 million EU contribution). The implementation period is 2021-2024.
For more information, please contact the Representative of the EU4Environment Water and Data programme in Georgia, Mr Zurab Jincharadze firstname.lastname@example.org