The 5th ASEM Sustainable Development Seminar
“Water Nexus Agenda for the Third ASEM Decade
(1 – 3 December 2016, Ruse, Bulgaria)


As a gift of Nature, indispensable for the existence of mankind, water has always been at the focus of world attention and at the forefront of the global agenda given its crucial role for sustainable development. In line with the worldwide initiatives and actions to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and to implement the Post-2015 Development Agenda, at the 10th ASEM Summit in Milano, held in 2014, the leaders of Asia and Europe committed themselves strongly to promote further tangible cooperation between the two regions in water-related issues, reaffirming ASEM’s engagement to the Danube-Mekong initiative as a model in transforming the common challenges related to food, water and energy security into shared opportunities for inclusive growth and sustainable development.
At the 12th ASEM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Luxembourg, held in 2015 under the theme “Working Together for a Sustainable and Secure Future”, ministers agreed to support further cooperation between ASEM partners in the framework of the ASEM Sustainable Development Dialogue and to encourage further concerted actions for tangible cooperation between Asia and Europe in water-related issues through trans-boundary, sub-regional and bi-regional cooperation, an example of which is the Danube-Mekong initiative. They reaffirmed their engagement to promote sustainable water management, including integrated river basin management and flood risk control, access to safe drinking water and sanitation.
In 2016 we mark the 20th anniversary of ASEM, a culmination of which is the 11th ASEM Summit on July 15-16th 2016 in Ulaanbaatar. Leaders of both regions are meeting to review the progress made and achievements reached since the launching of the Asia-Europe dialogue in 1996 and to outline the future course, prospects and goals of the inter-regional process in the next decade. Among the issues in the focus of the summit is the future role and contribution of ASEM for the full and timely realization of the ambitious goals set up in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change for building an inclusive, sustainable and prosperous future for all people on the planet. An important instrument in this direction is the cooperation in the framework of the ASEM Sustainable Development Dialogue.
As an active participant in the regional cooperation in the Danube river basin and a co-sponsor of the Danube-Mekong initiative Bulgaria will host the 5th ASEM Sustainable Development Seminar under the motto “Destined to Connect: 20 Years of Asia-Europe Meeting”. In this initiative we are guided by the ambition to utilize more efficiently and stimulate further the cooperative mechanisms of sharing knowledge and best practices in water-related issues and to make a new step towards achieving the goals set up in the 2030 Agenda. We believe that the suggested theme of the seminar “Water Nexus Agenda for the Third ASEM Decade” offers an opportunity for exchange of information, ideas and know-how between ASEM partners on crucial aspects related to sustainable development and progress of the two regions. We hope that with the joint efforts of the co-sponsors - Hungary, Romania, Austria, Slovakia, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand -  the Seminar will fulfill its objectives as a part of the annual series in the framework of the ASEM Sustainable Development Dialogue and as one of the events marking the 20th Anniversary of ASEM in 2016.


  1. To strengthen INTER-REGIONAL COOPERATION in search for a joint vision on an Agenda for the Third ASEM Decade.
  2. To bring together points of view of experts, policy makers and investors from Asia and Europe on GOOD GOVERNANCE of:
    • ​ water-energy-food nexus​
    • river basins as multi-use resource areas.​
  3. To promote the potential of both, INTER-REGIONAL COOPERATION and GOOD GOVERNANCE, for the achievement of goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.​

Concrete Outcomes:

  1. To launch a Flagship Initiative of the Third ASEM Decade for:
    • science-based innovative water nexus solutions, related to national, cross-border and transnational governance of green growth, climate change, security and quality of life;
    • creative entrepreneurial ideas related to national, cross-border and transnational governance of  river basins as multi-use resource areas. 
  2. ​To disclose the potential of the Flagship Initiative to leverage a network of stakeholders (experts, policy makers and investors) from Asia and Europe, who appreciate its added value and who are willing to contribute to its implementation.   
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria
Ministry of Environment and Water of Bulgaria
University of Ruse
Bulgarian-Romanian Interuniversity Europe Centre (BRIE)
Ruse Municipality

University of Ruse
Bulgarian-Romanian Interuniversity Europe Centre (BRIE)
Ruse Municipality

Supporting Institutions:
Ministry of Agriculture and Foods of Bulgaria
Ministry of Energy of Bulgaria
Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works of Bulgaria
Ministry of Interior of Bulgaria
Bulgarian Academy of Sciences

EU, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Lao PDR, Thailand, Vietnam and Bulgaria (open to other co-sponsors).

The Seminar will gather approximately 150 participants – representatives from ASEM countries, EEAS, the European Commission and the ASEAN Secretariat, including government officials, scholars, researchers, representatives of related regional and international institutions/organizations, the local authorities, the non-governmental and business sectors.

Dates and Venue:
1 – 3 December 2016​
The city of Ruse – Bulgaria
Kaneff Centre at University of Ruse

Costs and responsibilities:
The host will cover the costs of organizing the Seminar. Participants from ASEM partners are kindly requested to cover their travel and accommodation expenses.
Co-sponsors will be responsible for sending speakers to the Seminar, contributing with comments and suggestions to the concept paper, provisional agenda and tentative programme, as well as coordinating with the host in inviting guest speakers.

The working language will be English.

Contacts of the organizers:
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria
No2, “Alexander Zhendov” str., Sofia 1040
“Asia, Australia and Oceania” Directorate
Tel: (+3592)-2619; Fax: (+3592) 971-2882

Ministry of Environment and Water
No22, bul.”Knyaginya Maria Luiza”, Sofia 1000
International Cooperation Department
Tel: (+3592)-940-6280;   

Ruse University “Angel Kanchev”
No 8, “Studentska” str., Ruse, 7017-BG
Assoc. prof. Mimi Kornazheva, PhD
Department of European Studies and International Relations,
Director of Bulgarian-Romanian Interuniversity Europe Center(BRIE)
University of Ruse
Tel: +359 82/82 56 67
Fax: +359 82/82 56 62

Ruse Municipality
7000 Ruse, No 6 “Svoboda” sq.
“European Development” Department
Ms. Lidia Lecheva-Gospodinova, Chief Expert
Tel. (082)-881-767
Mob. +359 878 905 482
E-mail:​    ​