ICPDR highlighted at 3rd EUSDR Annual Conference

News & Media

Vienna, 26/27 June 2014. The 3rd EUSDR Annual Conference put the spotlight on the ICPDR at several occasions: the commission’s 20th anniversary was celebrated through a special session; and exhibitions, plenary and working group sessions dealt with improving the alignment of ICPDR and EUSDR work – reinforced by a ministerial declaration.

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Over 1200 participants registered at the 3rd EUSDR Annual Conference in Vienna last week. The event followed similar endeavours in Regensburg and Bucharest and drew support from all levels, including EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn, federal and regional ministers, mayors and high-level civil servants, as well as delegates from civil society, private sector and international organisations.

The ICPDR was in the spotlight at several moments during the conference. A dedicated “speaker’s corner” session celebrated “20 Years of ICPDR”, featuring Executive Secretary Ivan Zavadsky, ICPDR Good Will Ambassador and ICPDR President 2012 Wolfgang Stalzer and Maria Pinter of next year’s presiding country Croatia on behalf of Drazen Kurecic.

A plenary session featured Deputy Minister Ermina Salkicevic-Dizdarevic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, ICPDR President 2013, who passionately underlined the ample experience of the ICPDR in issues related to water management and the associated transboundary cooperation in support of the pursuit of the EUSDR.

Workshops organised by PA4 (Water Quality) and PA5 (Environmental Risks) saw strong arguments in frank debates on the role of the ICPDR in the context of the EUSDR. Notably Karl Schwaiger of Austria, Head of Delegation to the ICPDR and involved in the EUSDR for Austria, contributed valuable views to a session moderated by former ICPDR Secretariat staff member Birgit Vogel.

Over 1200 participants at Vienna city hall

Executive Secretary Ivan Zavadsky presented the documentary “The Danube – Europe’s Amazon” to the plenary. The ICPDR cooperated with WWF and Cristina Sandu of IAD in equipping the exhibition stall of PA6 (Biodiversity) on Danube sturgeons. Posters were developed especially for the exhibition, as well as a seven by two metre large banner featuring a beluga sturgeon in the maximum documented life size. EU Commissioner for Regional Development Johannes Hahn commented favourably on the banner.

ICPDR Secretariat staff presented technical publications and disseminated over 500 copies of the special issue of Danube Watch on the 20th anniversary of the Danube River Protection Convention together with a written address by ICPDR President 2014, Deputy Minister Atanas Kostadinov (see download section below). Complimented with a Danube Day bag, the package proved very popular and increased ICPDR visibility at the event considerably. Members of ICPDR delegations, expert groups and secretariat staff received pins to show their affiliation.

Perhaps most importantly for the long-term impact of the 3rd EUSDR Annual Conference, the concluding joint statement of the ministers of foreign affairs of the participating states of the EUSDR and of the European Commission referred directly to the ICPDR in two crucial issues: acknowledging the role of the ICPDR with regard to co-operation in flood prevention, protection and relief; and with regards to the significance as an existing cooperation mechanism. The joint statement emphasised the importance of streamlining the interconnections between EUSDR and relevant regional institutions, while avoiding potential duplications and overlaps.