3rd ICPDR Ministerial Meeting 2016

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Vienna, 9 February 2016. Cleaner, healthier and safer waters for everyone to enjoy - this is the objective of two management plans for the Danube River Basin that were endorsed in Vienna today. The management plans foresee measures that will be implemented over a six-year period until 2021.

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The measures foreseen in the ICPDR's management plans for the Danube River Basin improve the purity of rivers, lakes and groundwater, make rivers and lakes thriving ecosystems for animals and plants and manage the risk of floods.

“Water is an indispensable basis for life that faces many pressures, from climate change to overexploitation, from growing scarcity to pollution,” said ICPDR President Peter J. Kalas. "This is why the protection of the Danube river as the important source of water for the whole Danube region and its development is so important.”

Mr. Kalas further explained: “As a milestone act in its history, by adopting today two management strategies for the Danube river basin to guide its smart sustainable development during next 6 years, 14 countries and the European Union expressed a joint commitment for their implementation until 2021 and set so the example of tackling global challenges locally."

Ministers and high-level representatives responsible for water management from the Danube River Basin countries Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Montenegro, the Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine and the European Commission endorsed the management plans and adopted a declaration at a ministerial meeting organised by the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR).

The “Danube River Basin Management Plan Update 2015” and the “1st Flood Risk Management Plan for the Danube River Basin” were developed in line with the EU Water Framework Directive and the EU Floods Directive. Examples for measures contained in the plans are the development of wastewater treatment plants to reduce pollution, the construction of 146 fish migration aids, or the opening of retention spaces for floods to mitigate damages.

The Danube River Basin Management Plan is building on a previous plan for the period from 2009 to 2015, which resulted in significant improvements of the Danube River and its tributaries. For example, phosphorus emissions were reduced by 30 percent since 2009, with positive effects on ecosystems throughout the basin and in the Black Sea. The 1st Danube Flood Risk Management Plan” is the first basin-wide programme ever aiming to prevent and reduce damage by floods to human health, the environment, cultural heritage and businesses.

“The actions in our two management plans will benefit the environment as well as the 80 million people who call the Danube River Basin their home”, explained Ivan Zavadsky, ICPDR Executive Secretary. “This is why the ICPDR involved the people of the basin in developing them.”

Countries and the EU elaborated the plans in the frame of the ICPDR with a comprehensive set of public consultation measures, involving environmental NGOs, the business world and other key stakeholders. This will ensure a broad acceptance of the plans. Awareness raising measures and education, for example through a game targeting children which was published at www.danubeadventure.org, support the involvement of the general public in the water management work of the ICPDR.