First assessment of the impacts of climate change and development on the water resources of the Vjosa River, Albania

LILJANA LATA1*, BART (A.J.) WICKEL2, STEPHANIE GALAITSI2, AMPARO SAMPER HIRALDO1, EGLANTINA BRUCI3

1Institute of Geosciences, Energy, Water and Environment (IGEWE) / Don Bosko”, No. 60, Tirana, Albania

2Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI-US), 11 Curtis Ave, Somerville, MA 02144, USA

3United Nations Development Program (UNDP), “Skenderbej” Street, Gurten Building, 2nd Floor, Tirana, Albania

*Corresponding author  e-mail: lataliljana@gmail.com        

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Abstract:

The Vjosa River (called Aoös in Greece) drains Albania’s second largest river basin and is one of the longest transboundary rivers in the Balkan area. The Vjosa Basin, as one of the last wild rivers of Europe and host to ten protected areas, is recognized nationally and internationally for its great conservation value and scenic beauty. The basin has a strong economic growth potential; future development of the basin can either benefit from (e.g tourism) or be detrimental (e.g. large-scale infrastructure) to its ecological integrity but is also vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Recent climate projections by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) indicate that the Vjosa basin and its surrounding regions are particularly vulnerable to an increase in extreme flood events, which are already affecting its communities. This paper presents the results of a modeling assessment performed under the framework of the EU Flood Protection Infrastructure Project (FPIP). Using the Water Evaluation and Planning (WEAP) software, this is the first assessment in Albania to provide an integrated water management and climate vulnerability assessment for an entire river basin. Through the development of a calibrated hydrological model and a set of socio-economic development scenarios and climate scenarios, the project identified key vulnerabilities and potential adaptation strategies for sustainable management of water resources. Led by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), an important aspect of this project was scientific collaboration and building of capacity with Albanian researchers from the Institute of Geosciences, Energy, Water, and Environment at the Polytechnical University of Tirana (IGEWE, UPT). In order to improve the understanding of water use and uptake of the model in the basin by distinct sectors, regional stakeholders were involved throughout this project.

Keywords: hydro-ecological; socio-economic scenarios; integrated hydrological model; adaptation measures.

 

 

 

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