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UNDP-GEF Kura II: Advancing IWRM Across the Kura River Basin
The Kura River Basin is the main transboundary water system in the geopolitically challenging region of the South Caucasus. The participating countries of Azerbaijan and Georgia have undergone significant political and economic transition and are now developing rapidly across a wide range of water dependent sectors. Together Azerbaijan and Georgia cover 94,760 square km and represent 88% of the Kura basin. The two countries have demonstrated strong commitment to cooperate towards transboundary integrated water resources management.
In the previous phase of the UNDP-GEF Kura Project (2011-2014) the countries identified the following main transboundary challenges for the Kura River Basin: changes in hydrological flows; deterioration of water quality; ecosystem degradation; and, flooding due to climate change.
In May 2014 the Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources in Azerbaijan and Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Protection in Georgia signed the Strategic Action Plan for the Kura River Basin – based on shared nationally priorities and critical needs for improved harmonization of integrated water resources management (IWRM) in the Kura Basin.
The Global Environment Facility (GEF) has given the countries a grant of $5.3 million USD to support the UNDP Istanbul Regional Hub to implement and execute the 4-year project, with Project offices and UNDP-GEF Kura II IWRM Academy Training Centers in Azerbaijan and Georgia. The project has over $190 million USD in co-financing from the basin and focuses on the priority needs of the SAP.
The objectives of the SAP include: Improved Hydrological Management; Reduced loss of water resources; Improved water quality monitoring programs; Pollution reduction and prevention; Harmonization of water quality standards; Assessment of the status of river ecosystems; Conservation & restoration of river ecosystems; Mainstreaming river ecosystem protection in development planning; Reduction of hazards due to floods and drought; and, Harmonized Climate Change Adaptation.