EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

WEFE Nexus governance approach to tackle water management issues in a transboundary aquatic ecosystem

Maria P. Papadopoulou1,2, Orfeas Roussos1, Leto Papadopoulou1, and Dionissia Hatzilacou1
Maria P. Papadopoulou et al.
  • 1Natural Environment and Climate Change Agency (NECCA), ATHENS, GREECE (
  • 2National Technical University of Athens, School of Rural, Surveying and Geoinformatics Engineering, ATHENS, Greece (

Prespa Lakes is a transboundary (Greece-Albania-North Macedonia) aquatic ecosystem with a unique ecological value that includes a great variety of habitats and life forms, endemic and rare species. The water quality of this ecosystem is essential to sustain ecosystem services, as well as local economic activity. Climate change may lead to a potential decrease in water quality and availability, increasing the competition among the different water users. Integrated water management and policy approaches that will engage all competing water users is the answer to achieve the sustainability of sensitive and high-value aquatic systems, as the one found in Prespa Lakes. This challenge is even greater when these aquatic systems are transboundary and belong to the Natura2000 network.

Recognizing the need for a rational management of high-value water ecosystems, the Greek administration adopted, in 2020, a new governance system, with the establishment of the Natural Environment and Climate Change Agency (NECCA), an agency responsible for all the protected areas in Greece, with an emphasis on the conservation and protection of biodiversity in the 446 Natura2000 sites in the country . Within this new administrative system, all 446 Natura2000 sites are grouped into 24 decentralized protected area units (DPAU) and at each DPAU, a Local Management Committee (LMC) is appointed, in order to  bring together all interested stakeholders at local level such as regional and municipal authorities, technical economic chambers, forest management authorities, environmental NGOs and professional associations. The LMC functions as a consultation body to the DPAU. Its primary focus is on the implementation of the relevant protected area management plan and monitoring scheme, for the conservation of protected habitats and species, but it also participates in every other action related to sustainable development, mitigation and adaptation to climate change. Special concern will be given to actions related to water quality, food production, ecosystem health and climate resilience, as critical elements of WEFE Nexus.

In this frame, climate resilience of all environmental, economic, and social sectors related to water use is analyzed in the Orhid/Prespa Lakes ecosystem as a whole, to secure a balanced use of available water resources in this transboundary ecosystem. A System Innovation Approach is implemented through the development of Working Groups functioning at national level followed by a transboundary Living Lab focusing on water scarcity issues. Stakeholders related to water management and representing all sectors at local level take part in these Working Groups and in the transboundary Living Lab to shape common pathways of innovations on climate adaptation and resilience. It is envisaged that the results will support the work of the LMC, as well as that of the transboundary Prespa Park Management Committee, and could also be transferred, by NECCA, to other protected areas with similar ecosystem characteristics, and challenges.

How to cite: Papadopoulou, M. P., Roussos, O., Papadopoulou, L., and Hatzilacou, D.: WEFE Nexus governance approach to tackle water management issues in a transboundary aquatic ecosystem, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-1708,, 2023.