Danube management plan a big step forward
Measures include the reduction of organic and nutrient pollution, offsetting environmentally detrimental effects of man-made structural changes to the river, improvements to urban wastewater systems, the introduction of phosphate-free detergents in all markets and effective risk management of accidental pollution. Other measures include efforts to restore migration of fish, such as the giant beluga sturgeon, across dams as well as to reconnect former floodplain wetlands to the river. The plan takes a source-to-sea approach and addresses key requirements of the European Union Water Framework Directive.
The plan was adopted by ministers and high-level representatives responsible for water in the Danube basin from Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Montenegro, the Republic of Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine and the European Commission at a Ministerial Meeting organised by the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR) in Vienna on 16 February 2010.
WWF, speaking at the Ministerial Meeting on behalf of the 5 NGO observers at the ICPDR, warmly welcomed adoption of the Danube River Basin Management Plan, but raised a number of concerns regarding its implementation, including ongoing plans to develop inland navigation as well as hydropower on the Danube. The NGOs also called on the ministers to support an EU-wide ban of phosphates in detergents.
Before the Ministerial Meeting, WWF, Bund fuer Naturschutz (Friends of the Earth Germany) and LBV (BirdLife Germany) presented the president of the ICPDR with 100,000 signatures of a petition calling on Danube governments to protect the Danube as a living river and to avoid damage from infrastructure development connected to navigation.
The Ministers at the ICPDR meeting also evaluated the progress towards the protection and sustainable use of water and other ecological resources and reaffirmed and strengthened their commitment to transboundary cooperation in the Danube River Basin.
Flood action plans for the 17 sub-basins in the Danube catchment area were also officially adopted at the meeting. The sub-basin plans contain hundreds of concrete measures the Danube countries will take to protect their populations from floods and to mitigate the flood damage and losses, such as those caused by the massive floods in the years 2002, 2005 and 2006.
The ICPDR ministerial meeting was followed by a short event organised by WWF to celebrate the 10th year anniversary of the Lower Danube Green Corridor.