​​ asem-logo.jpg 
5th ASEM Sustainable Development Dialogue
Danube – Mekong Cooperation Initiative

Water Nexus Agenda for the Third ASEM Decade
Kaneff Center at University of Ruse, Bulgaria
1-3 December 2016

                                                                              30 November 2016, Wednesday                                                                             
Arrival of some delegates from Asia and EU ​
​ ​                                                                                 1 December 2016, Thursday                                                                                
Arrival of  delegates from Asia and EU​
13.00-14.00​​​ Registration
Opening ceremony:

Welcoming speech by Mr. Plamen Stoilov, Mayor of Ruse
Welcoming speech by Mr. Sommad Pholsena, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment of the LAO PDR
Welcoming speech by  Mr. Hristo Angelichin, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria
Welcoming speech by  Prof. Hristo Beloev, DSc, President of Ruse Municipality Council and of University of Ruse  General Assembly
Welcoming speech by  Prof. Velizara Pencheva, PhD, Rector of University of Ruse

Introductory session

  • Welcoming speech by Mr. Pierrick Fillon-Ashida, European Commission, DG "Research&Innovation", Senior Administrator Asia Unit                                                 
  • Welcoming speech by Tran Ngoc An, ASEM Senior Official for Vietnam 
  • Remarks by Prof. Li Xiaoming,  Hunan University, Member of the Academic and Development Committee, ASEMWATER Representative of China "ASEM Cooperative Mechanism: Research & Development & Innovation in Water"
  • Inauguration of the ASEM Exhibition "ON THE GO" by Angel Orbetsov, Director in Ministry of Foreign Affairs and ASEM Senior Official for Bulgaria 
  • Moderator: Mr. Angel Orbetsov, Director in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and ASEM Senior Official for Bulgaria

Photo session
  1. Water as a Key Challenge in Asia and Europe. The Case for Cities

The 4th ASEM Seminar Dialogue has emphasized the need to rethink the role of cities as drivers of change towards sustainable development. Such a role matters even more, when cities get twinned. City twinning is a long-term cooperation and catalyzes synergies for innovative ideas and practices. This first session will reveal the context, that called for twinning of cities from Asia and Europe, as well as some of their results and projects. Prospects for further twinning of cities in Bulgaria and Lao will be outlined, as well.
Keynote speaker:
 - Mr. Dorin-Mihai Palaghiciuc, PhD, European External Action  Service, Desk Officer in Charge of Bangladesh: "Europe- Asia Cooperation on Water: the Way Forward"

Panel speakers  
 -  Mr. Marian Tudor, PhD, General Director of Danube Delta National Institute,  Tulcea County Council, Romania
    "Steps towards Practical Common Projects between Ben Tre Province (Vietnam) and Tulcea County (Romania): Development  of Ben Tre Knowledge Center and Vam Ho Bird Sanctuary)"
 -  Ms. Nguyen Thi Hong Oanh , Ambassador of  Vietnam
 -  Mr. Strahil Karapchanski, PhD, Deputy Mayor on European Development,  Ruse, Bulgaria
   "Ruse and Giurgiu – Shared Development Perspectives across Water Borders through Masterplanning;  Ruse and Can Tho  with a Common Vision on Cooperation"
 -  Mr. Heaunchay Sangsomsak,  LAO PDR
    "Presenting the City of Pakse"

Mr. Angel Orbetsov, Director in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and ASEM Senior Official for Bulgaria


Coffee break

 2. Water-Energy-Food Nexus as a Driver of Green Growth and as a Policy Response to Climate Change

Nexus thinking is a challenge to the one-sector governance of each of the three strategic resources. Therefore, this seminar session will emphasize the multi-sectoral approach
Being a globally recognized innovative policy tool, the nexus brings together environmental protection, economic efficiency and social equity, and thus refers to the green growth challenge as a technological experimentation. On the other hand, the nexus approach considers the negative impact of human activity, which aims to provide water, energy and food and calls for creative policy responses to climate change.

Key note speakers
Introductory video by UNESCO on the water cycle

  • Ms. Lucilla Minelli, United Nations World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP)  
    "The Water Nexus: Transforming the Way We Manage Water"
  • Mr. Tran Duc Cuong, Deputy Director General of the Vietnam National Mekong Committee
    "A Nexus of Adaptation: Climate Change Implication on the Water - Food - Energy Nexus of the Lower Mekong Basin" 

Panel speakers  

  • Mr. Igor Niagolov, Professor at National Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
    "Management of Complex Reservoirs under Extreme Conditions" 
  •  Mr. Devabrata Chakraborty, Director, Governance Innovation Unit, Prime Minister's Office, Bangladesh
    "Delta Coalition and Bangladesh" 
  • "Happy Rain", award winning documentary film  by Ms. Isabelle Antunès, PhD  on a 100% local initiative in Bangladesh. The film portrays how thousands of farmers turned floods into a profitable business venture 6 months a year. The film was screened at COP 21 and broadcasted on French TV. (See synopsis at the end of the programme below) 

Mrs. Emiliya Kraeva, Head of International Cooperation Department, Ministry of Environment and Water, Bulgaria  



Cultural programme:
"On the Beautiful Blue Danube", concert of Ruse Philharmonic Orchestra


Welcome Reception at Panorama Restaurant, Riga Hotel
​​                                                                                    2 December 2016, Friday                                                                                 
9.30-10.30 3.Water-Energy-Food Nexus and Security 

The main nexus-related risks to security are access to safe drinking water and sanitation, access to clean, reliable and affordable energy services, and access to safe food in a sufficient quantity and quality.
Nexus policy making calls for more knowledge on the interdependencies between the three resources and for consideration of three guiding policy making principles: invest to sustain ecosystem services; create more with less; and integrate the poorest to accelerate access. This session will regard formats of cooperation, which aim to prevent from nexus-relevant risks.

Key note speakers

  • Mr. Karl Schwaiger, Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management, Austria
    "Water - Energy Nexus: Recent Developments in Austria" 
  • Mrs. Veneta Tzvetkova, Director, Energy Projects and International Co-operation Directorate, Ministry of Energy, Bulgaria
    "Priority Gas Infrastructure Projects for Bulgaria and the Region" 

Panel speakers  

  • Mr. Nguyen Ky Anh, Officer in Charge for the  Director of Sustainable Development Directorate, ASEAN
    "ASEAN Cooperation on Water Resources Management"
  • Mr. Rosen Minev, Ministry of Interior, National Border Police, Ruse, Bulgaria
    "Cooperation of Border Police with National and International Bodies on Border Security Governance and Protection of Water Resources"

Mr. Wong Poh Poh, PhD, Singapore,  Professor at  The University of Adelaide,  Life Member of the Geological Society of Malaysia and the International Society of Mangrove Ecosystems



Coffee break

 4.Water-Energy-Food Nexus and Quality of Life
Improving quality of life is a major goal of good governance. It takes into account objective and subjective assumptions about living conditions, health, education, leisure and social interactions, economic and physical safety, basic citizenship rights, etc.
There is an emerging agreement, that the "ultimate end" of the Sustainable Development Goals is a prosperous, high quality of life that is sustainable and equitably shared.
This session will concentrate on the nexus, as it brings together resources, which have direct and indirect impact on well-being of individuals and communities. To deliver water, energy, and food for all, and manage the synergies and trade-offs among them, to understand how these interactions are shaped by environmental, economic, social and political changes, these are all practices of socially responsible policy makers. 

 Key note speakers 

  • Mr. Marlos DeSouza, Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
    "Water-Energy-Food Nexus and Quality of Life" 
  • Ms. Nuanlaor Wongpinitwarodom, Director at Thai National Mekong Committee Secretariat
    "Social Impact Monitoring and Vulnerability Assessment (SIMVA) on Shocks and Trends in Lower Mekong Basin Corridor, Thailand"

Panel speakers   

  • Mr. Wong Poh Poh, PhD, Singapore, Visiting Professor at  The University of Adelaide, Member of the Global Team of Scientists, Recognized in 2007 Nobel Peace Prize
    "Common Key Challenge in WFE Nexus and How to Achieve the SDGs?" 
  • Mrs. Aksniniya Antonova, PhD, Center for Risk Assessment on the Food Chain to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food of Bulgaria
    "The Water-Energy-Food Nexus and Quality of Life in the Context of Food Safety"

Mr. Tran Duc Cuong, ASEM Senior Official for Vietnam 


12:00-13:30Lunch Break
5. River Basins as Cross-Border and Transnational Regions. The Cases for the Danube and the Mekong Rivers 

In Europe water resources are often shared and regional cooperation in water governance in terms of policies and institutions has been granted substantial importance. The contribution of the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River and the Danube Commission are relevant examples of common decision making regarding world's most international river basin, which is shared by 19 countries.
EU cohesion policy has strengthened the supranational and the subnational levels of governance, and has introduced cross-border and transnational regions with the aim to facilitate cooperation beyond national borders to resolve common problems.
In Asia the Mekong River Commission provides a robust legal framework and promotes the sustainable use of water resources, preserves biodiversity and increases access to safe drinking water in the 10th largest river basin in the world. This session will render respect to the ethics of hydro-solidarity and the achievements of water governance beyond national borders.

Key note speakers

  • Mr. Peter J. Kalas, President of the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube RIVER
    "Water Connects: ICPDR Inter-sectoral Work towards Sustainability" 
  • Mr. Pham Tuan Phan, Chief Executive Officer of the Mekong River Commission
    "MRC Tools for Sustainability"

Panelist  views on:

Common challenges and knowledge exchange: Danube-Mekong, how to cooperate?
Is there a model and path to follow for cross-border and transnational links?


  • Ms. Judit Czikó, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Hungary
  • Mr. Adrian Stanica, PhD, Director of National Institute of Marine Geology and Geoecology and Head of Danubius EU Infrastructure Project , Romania 
  • Mrs. Mimi Kornazheva, PhD, Assoc. professor at University of Ruse and director of Bulgarian-Romanian Interuniversity Europe Center (BRIE), Bulgaria
  • Mrs. Mariya Tzankova, PhD,  Executive Director of Association of Danube Region Municipalities,  Bulgaria

Mr. Pierrick Fillon-Ashida, DG Research, Senior Administrator Asia Unit



​Coffee break
15:00-16:00​ 6. River Basins as Multi-Use Resource Areas. The Cases for Tourism and Transport

River basins are multi-use resource areas, which accommodate diverse policy sectors, such as research and innovation; navigation; water supply; water treatment; energy production; agriculture; fishing; industrial development; residential development; conservation of bio-diversity; protection of cultural heritage; recreational & leisure activities; water diplomacy; flood management and civil protection; military training; mineral extraction; etc. This session will regard tourism and intermodal transportation, since they possess the potential to provide more balanced, smarter, and 'greener' river basin development opportunities. 

Key note speakers  

  • Mr. Phousavanh Fongkhamdeng, Deputy Director of National Resource Department, Ministry of National Resources and Environment of Laos
     "River Basin Management and Development in Lao PDR" 
  • Mr. Lyubomir Sirakov, expert, Ministry of Tourism, Bulgaria
    "Implementation of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region in Culture and Tourism"

Panel speakers  

  • Mrs. Gordana Plamenac and Mr.  Vladan Krečković, Board of Directors of the Danube Competence Center, Germany/Serbia
    "The Danube Competence Center and its Added Value to the Tourism Development in the Danube Region" 
  • Mr. Georgi Uzunov, Chief Expert  at the Unit of Intermodal Terminals Project Governance at National Railway Infrastructure Company, Bulgaria
    "Prospects for Environmentally Friendly Freight Intermodal Terminal in Ruse".
  • Mr. Bozhidar Yankov, Director of European Programs at Executive Agency Exploration and Maintenance of the Danube River
    "FAIRway Danube: Promoting Harmonized Waterway Management in the Danube Region"

Assoc.prof. Mimi Kornazheva, PhD, University of Ruse



Closing remarks by:

  • Ms. Isabelle Antunès, PhD, film director and founder of La fabrique du géographe - France
    "Creating jobs and opportunities from untapped water resources using the film Happy Rain and digital offering: an innovative approach to development and education" 
  • Mr. Dorin-Mihai Palaghiciuc, PhD, representative of the European External Action Service
    Adoption of the final document.
    Concluding remarks by high level representatives from Europe and Asia.​
20:00Gala dinner at Cosmopolitan 
                                                                              3 December 2016, Saturday​​ ​                                                                                   
09:00-13:00Field trip:

Ruse welcomes ASEM Seminar delegates to unique sites of cultural heritage and to the Natural Park and its life styles along the river Lom and the Danube:

  • Basarbovo Monastery - an active monastery and an important pilgrimage site,
  • Rock-hewn Churches of Ivanovo - rock premises, with murals and inscriptions on their walls, some of the most representative examples of Palaeologan art, included in the UNESCO World Heritage List;
  • Seven Generations Winery - specialized in high-end boutique wines.
​ ​

Format : documentary
Length : 52 minutes
Coproduction : Les Poissons Volants, La fabrique du géographe, France
Year : 2015
DIRECTOR Isabelle Antunès
AUTHOR Isabelle Antunès
EDITING Christian Girier
PHOTOGRAPHY Guillaume Martin
SOUND Jean-Luc Verdier
MUSIC Kishon Khan

Every year, rivers and streams descending from China, Nepal, Bhutan and India join together and overflow, flooding and nourishing the Bangladeshi soil throughout the long monsoon months. While studying the maps of the Daudkandi region located 2 hours South-East of Dhaka, the capital, Morshed Millat Sakiul from the Shisuk NGO realised that certain flooded areas would be suitable for fish farming. After long discussions, he managed to convince local communities to invest and to create a fishing company together. A large portion of the capital went into building the infrastructure – the dams and water gates that would retain and control the water. Little by little, the villages became connected, and a whole new environment was created. Within 15 years, a whole new local economy, an entire value chain, had sprung up. Jobs were created in harvesting, sorting and selling fish. Some of the shareholders created new companies to supply fish food, ice and transportation and the rice harvest is better. All of this transformed their lives in an extraordinary way.

15 years later, how to make sure that the community doesn't become engaged at the service of the fishing company whose main objective today is the maximisation of profits.