European Union takes over ICPDR Presidency for 2017 from the Czech Republic

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Peter Gammeltoft and Peter Kalas pose with bottle of Danube Water

On Monday, 23 January, the European Union takes over the annual Presidency of the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR).
Incoming President Peter Gammeltoft has set three main priorities for his term: strengthening of financial support for the ICPDR, assessing the impact of agricultural activities on the Danube River Basin environment, and increasing the visibility of the ICPDR.

Mr. Gammeltoft wants to focus on investment needs and on capacity building, to ensure a better use of the available EU financial instruments and the implementation needs of the ICPDR Contracting Parties, in particular non-EU States, to speed up finalization and implementation of national plans.

Good water management and sustainable agricultural development require close cooperation between the environmental and agricultural sectors, and funding will be made available for water-friendly measures.
To mobilize support for more water friendly measures in other sectors and ensure better integration with other policy areas, another priority will be to increase the visibility of ICPDR outside the water community.

As the former Head of Unit for water and marine environment of the Directorate-General for Environment at the European Commission, Mr Gammeltoft knows the Danube River Basin well. In 1991, he played a key role in setting up an interim Danube Task Force, which was the precursor of the ICPDR.

The ICPDR President has emphasized the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and in particular their indivisibility, so that social, economic and environmental goals all have to be met.
The goals are particularly important when addressing challenges with regards to integrating other policy areas such as energy, transport and agriculture. Furthermore, for Mr. Gammeltoft, the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular SDG6 (clean water and sanitation) will focus efforts on topics related to the work of the ICPDR.

In his inaugural speech, the incoming ICPDR President praised the ICPDR as a widely and internationally recognized role model, showcasing the benefits of good transboundary cooperation in water resources management, in the most international river basin in the world
and expressed his appreciation for the outgoing ICPDR Presidency and his predecessor Peter J. Kalas of the Czech Republic.

The handover ceremony was hosted by the outgoing Presidency, the Czech Republic, at the premises of the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Vienna, Austria. This ceremony of periodical passing the Presidency of the ICPDR by rotation from one member country to another is a part of a long-term ICPDR tradition which both symbolises the organizational smooth continuity of ICPDR processes but also ensures the strong ownership of the ICPDR by its contracting parties.

Photo credits: ICPDR, from left to right: Peter Gammeltoft, ICPDR President 2017  and Peter Kalas, ICPDR President 2016