Iraq Delegation Visits Croatia: Knowledge Sharing on Transboundary Water Resources Management

April 27, 2023


Last week, an official delegation from Iraq visited the International Sava River Basin Commission (ISRBC) in Croatia to gain insights into the successful example of joint management of transboundary water resources. The Iraqi delegation composed of representatives of multiple key ministries, namely the Ministry of Water Resources, headed by H.E the Minister Aun Dhyaib Abdullah, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ministry of Environment.

The International Sava River Basin Commission with its permanent secretariat in Croatia presents an excellent example of cooperation among Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia in planning, sharing data and information, sustainable utilization, protection, and management of shared water resources.

Historically, the Sava River, once the largest national river, transformed into an international river following geopolitical changes in the 1990s. This shift led to fragmented management of water resources reduced economic activities, and mismanagement of essential systems like data exchange, monitoring, and early warning systems. The basin countries accepted the challenge and managed to conclude the Agreement on the Sava River Basin, the unique international agreement, which integrated all aspects of the water resources management, and established the joint International Sava River Basin Commission for its implementation. 



With Canada's financial support, coupled with technical assistance from UNDP, the visit aimed to learn from the ISRBC's experience, with the view of implementing a similar approach by Iraq and its riparian countries in the Tigris-Euphrates river basin.

During their two-day visit, the Iraqi delegation engaged in a series of meetings, presentations, and site visits. Some of the key takeaways from the visit include:

  1. Integrated water resources management: The Sava River Basin demonstrated the importance of considering its hydrological systems as indivisible units, encompassing the ecosystems, biodiversity, and social, and economic processes. This holistic approach applied in planning and management provided valuable insights for Iraq's water management efforts.
  2. Harmonizing different water uses: The Sava River Basin experience highlighted that different water uses by riparian states can be harmonized with the existence of strong political will. By promoting the economic benefits of the river, such as navigation, riparian countries may be more inclined to cooperate.
  3. Involving indigenous people: Including local communities in water resource management can lead to more sustainable solutions and increased awareness of the importance of integrated water resources management.



Although each basin has its unique circumstances and conditions, the visit to the International Sava River Basin Commission provided the Iraqi delegation with valuable insights into successful transboundary water management. The lessons learned from the Sava River Basin experience could inspire the development of similar agreements and cooperative mechanisms for Iraq's water resource management.

Overall, the visit to Croatia marked the political and technical commitment of Iraq towards transboundary cooperation and the exchange of knowledge and data with riparian countries of the Tigris-Euphrates river basin. UNDP is committed to continue supporting Iraq to pave the way for more effective national and transboundary water resources management.