NATO Advanced Study Institute "Watershed approach to Environmental Security"

The Advanced Study Institute “Watershed approach to Environmental Security: Fostering integrated water management in the Azov Sea Basin” will be held September 5-12, 2010 in Rostov-on-Don (Russia).

Degradation of freshwater ecosystems is considered to be one of the biggest non-military threats to human society. Access to fresh water is becoming one of the factors limiting development and it might be a major source for conflicts in near future. The cascades of dams were erected on every European river resulting in substantial modification of environmental conditions and corresponding economic, social and international problems. The degradation of the Sea of Azov, once one of the most productive seas in the world, is a characteristic example of anthropogenic catastrophes.

By the end of 20th century river basins have been finally recognized as the most appropriate territorial units for integrated water resources management (IWRM) and sustainable development. Though lacking commonly accepted definitions and methodology, the concept of integrated watershed management (IWM) possess high potential in securing regional sustainable development and enhancing environmental security. Unfortunately, no enough attention has been paid to interdisciplinary nature of the processes involved. IWRM is often understood by managers and scientists in a narrow way defined by commercial interests, academic background, professional training and other factors. On the other hand, the concept of environmental security is also interpreted in a variety of ways.

The main objectives of the Institute are:

  • To provide specialists in watershed management and sustainable use of aquatic bio-resources with interdisciplinary overview of corresponding scientific, managerial and social issues;
  • To enhance existing academic programs on integrated water management with interdisciplinary perspective and practical experience;
  • To advance concepts of environmental security and IWM among academic and environmental communities and facilitate their application within practical water management;
  • To communicate the best world practices in trans-boundary water management to national and regional authorities and scientific communities;
  • To initiate joint projects in rehabilitation of freshwater ecosystems and trans-boundary cooperation;
  • To stimulate restoration of sturgeon species in the Sea of Azov, once the most productive sturgeon habitat.