Land degradation/desertification and drought affect many parts of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). The climate in much of the region, notably in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, Romania, the Russian Federation and Ukraine, is classified as dry sub-humid; some areas, such as that along the northwest coasts of the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, are even drier and are classified as semi-arid. The level of soil degradation is high through much of Central and Eastern Europe, and very high in some parts, for example along the Adriatic. While wind is not a major factor in soil erosion except in parts of the Russian Federation, water-induced erosion is considered to be medium to very high in many countries.
The region‘s particular concerns are addressed by the Convention‘s fifth regional implementation annex. The annex sets out guidelines and arrangements for implementing the Convention in Central and Eastern Europe. It was adopted by the fourth session of the Conference of the Parties in 2000 and it entered into force on 6 September 2001. Twenty CEE countries have already acceded to the Convention. The remaining two countries are expected to accede soon. Several CEE countries are members of the European Union and some countries are emerging donors.
Governments face many challenges as they seek to promote sustainable development. While continuing to manage their economic transition they must also reform many unsustainable development practices. A major concern is the crisis in agriculture due to soil depletion in arable lands and to other stresses. Inappropriate irrigation and the unsustainable exploitation of water resources are contributing to chemical pollution, salinization and the exhaustion of aquifers. Deforestation due to pollution stress and frequent forest fires also remain serious problems.
The fifth regional implementation annex for CEE countries also offers concrete opportunities for strengthening regional cooperation. Because economic activities and ecosystems are linked across borders, countries can benefit from coordinating their efforts. Important opportunities exist in the fields of scientific research, data management, information exchange, technology transfer, training, drought mitigation, and disaster preparedness. Common efforts can also contribute to rehabilitating lands degraded by industrial activities and nuclear wastes, reducing the consumption of fertile soils by urbanization and sharing and monitoring the use of transboundary water resources.
Some countries have expressed an interest in subregional activities aimed at solving specific transboundary problems, in particular related to the management of drought in South East Europe. A regional consultative mechanism is in the process of being established with the assistance of the UNCCD secretariat. Activities are being undertaken particularly through the establishment of regional thematic networks for scientific cooperation, organization of workshop on technology and know how, development of mechanisms for exchanges of information and documentation and organization of regional training courses
The annex will also stimulate action at national level. As at August 2005, National Action Programmes (NAPs) to combat desertification have been adopted by Armenia, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Romania and the implementation phase is being launched. Other affected countries from CEE region have started the preparation of NAPs or expressed an interest in preparing their NAPs. The preparation of NAPs is a dynamic ongoing process and the status of each country is subject to change over time. As in other regions, interested research institutes, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and local communities are encouraged to participate in the preparation, coordination and implementation of NAPs.
Relevant parts of the Convention: Annex V: Regional Implementation Annex for Central and Eastern Europe