Dear Madame Minister Petcu,
Dear Madame Minister Gavrilescu,
It is a great pleasure to be here today and see so many friends and champions of Romanian environmental protection. I would like to thank the organizers for inviting the World Bank (WB) to address you on the importance of reducing nitrates pollution in Romania.
Importance of improved environmental protection in Romania
Romania had transposed the EU Environmental Acquis, but it is still facing problems in meeting EU standards and norms in environmental and natural resources for air and water pollution management, waste management and control, ecological and biodiversity conservation, and natural resources protection, as well as increasing natural disaster risks related to climate change, such as floods;
Addressing nitrate pollution and supporting integrated manure management can generate energy, improve nutrient use, boost agricultural productivity, whilst reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
WB support to reducing nutrient pollution in Romania and in the Danube/Black Sea basins
Over the past 25 years, the World Bank has been working with Romanian authorities to support improved policy-making, strengthen implementation capacity and support collaboration in environmental protection, including addressing nitrate pollution;
Since 2007, the World Bank in partnership with the Global Environmental Facility (GEF), has been financing the Integrated Nutrient Pollution Control Project in the amount of 50 million Euro. In March 2016, an additional financing of 48 million Euro was approved to provide new investments until 2022;
This is one of the first World Bank projects in this area in the region and continues to be highly relevant to support Romania in meeting its European obligations related to the implementation of the Nitrates Directive. It is also a unique project in that it finances direct investments in rural communities, such as manure management platforms, wastewater treatment facilities and biogas production, that generate environmental and economic benefits;
Over 100 communes have benefited from support under the first phase of the Integrated Nutrient Pollution Control Project. The project also contributed to institutional strengthening, coordination and capacity building within the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Water and Forests and other agencies, local governments and communes. The project also helped raise awareness about protecting water resources in line with EU standards;
One notable component the project was the financing of the Seini biogas plant, in Maramures. The plant is a pilot project for Romania that integrates adequate manure management technology and generates energy for the local community, thus building a cleaner local environment. It is the only one of this type in Romania and we hope not the last;
The additional financing, or the second phase of the Integrated Nutrient Pollution Control Project, in the amount of 48 million EURO, that was approved in March 2016, will benefit around 30,000 small farms, in 100 communes, in manure collection and composting facilities, manure management, biogas production from animal waste, and sewage and wastewater treatment facilities;
On a regional level, the World Bank and the Global Environmental Facility, have supported over ten investment projects since 2002 in addressing nutrient pollution in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Moldova, Romania, Serbia and Turkey;
As a result of some of these interventions, the quality of water in the Danube basin over the past decade has improved quite remarkably. Nitrogen and phosphorus emissions have decreased by 20 and 50% respectively over the past 15 years.
Romania’s policy agenda going forward
Despite improvements, Romania needs to ensure a long-term, programmatic approach to address water pollution. I believe that INPCP remains a best practice example for the region and beyond. The Project team has been instrumental to supporting the results of the project and I want to use this opportunity again to thank the entire Bank team;
Romania is endowed with important agricultural resources and precious rural space. Protecting and capitalizing on these assets is inextricably linked with the sustainable use of land and the application of environmentally-friendly agricultural production practices;
Romania needs to focus on limiting/capping GHG emissions and addressing environmental threats on natural resources in agriculture, through the promotion of environmentally friendly production technologies, practices and products, and investments in green technologies;
The World Bank stands ready to continue its support to the Romanian Government in its efforts to comply with the ambitious EU environmental agenda through a variety of instruments.
Thank you once again for the invitation and I look forward to see a more vibrant and stronger and greener Romanian agriculture in the years ahead.