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Danube Day Celebrations across 14 Countries on 29 June 2019

Posted on 17 July 2019

Danube Day has become the largest river festival in the world.
On the 29th of June each year, the 14 countries of the Danube Basin jointly celebrate one of Europe's greatest river systems and the people and wildlife that rely on it. Danube Day has become the largest river festival in the world, with huge festivals on the riverbanks and public meetings as well as educational events. It is also a basin-wide celebration reflecting the diversity of the region. On the international level, the coordination is carried out by the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR) Permanent Secretariat. Nationally, the member countries and partners organise the events. Danube Day is supported by corporate local partners. This year’s theme was “Get Active for a Safer Danube.”
Notable WWF-CEE regional successes to celebrate this year include: Danube Day 2019 in Bulgaria
Nearly 70 people took part in the first Free Danube Nature Triathlon in Ruse, Bulgaria, organised by WWF-Bulgaria. The hot weather in the first days of summer did not affect the participants’ enthusiasm as they went through the different stages of the event – 70 km of cycling, kayaking and running. The entire activity was aimed to promote responsive behaviour and raise awareness about the world’s most endangered species – the sturgeon.
The emblematic WWF panda on its bike lined up with the other competitors on the start line in Ruse’s central Svoboda Square (in English Freedom) at 9 am. The air was charged with loads of positive vibes and adventurousness. Cyclists peddled 45 km through Sredna kula and Dolapite, followed by the beautiful scenery of the Rusenski Lom River and the villages of Basarabovo, Krasen, Bozhichen and Mechka. The route deliberately passed by local heritage sites such as the rock-hewn churches of Ivanovo. Swapping bikes for kayaks at Stalpishte, this 20 km stretch took them back to Ruse. The final 15 km running stage wound through Ruse’s city parks and green areas. The fastest managed to finish the picturesque, but rather challenging route in 5.5 hours.
The non-competitive character of the event intended to bring together environmentalists, sport clubs, local fishing communities and all nature supporters in order to highlight once again the importance of protecting the Danube, its riparian forests, sturgeons and the other species living in or around the river. Sharing knowledge about the reasons that lead to sturgeon extinction remains central for the LIFE for Danube Sturgeons Project, and maintains the dialogue on how crucial it is the ban on fishing sturgeons in Bulgaria and Romania to be renewed after 2021.
“Today, sturgeons face many challenges including dams on the river that prevent them from reaching their spawning grounds, strengthening and channelization of the river, water pollution and overexploitation, which is the most damaging among all negative effects,” shared Konstantin Hristov from WWF-Bulgaria. “To re-enact the sturgeons’ difficult situation and make it easier for the participants to understand what is happening with these ancient fish, we had a number of symbolic obstructions on the triathlon route.”
The participants’ supporters and the locals were also included in the Danube Day festivities. The WWF team was running a photo collage workshop in partnership with ALOS – Centre for Informal Education and Cultural Activities only a few meters from the finish line. For kids and their curious parents, the Fish Forward boat provided thematic games and videos about fishing and why it is important to be conscious of fish product consumption. Living in harmony with nature is possible by implementing small changes every day. 
Moreover, the event was single-use plastic free!
Kalina Boyadzhieva
Events Officer,
WWF-Bulgaria, Tel: +359 878 843 494
Danube Day 2019 in Romania
WWF-Romania used the opportunity to spread the word about biodiversity through its ongoing Colours in Extinction initiative. People are invited to adopt the colours of nature from among 5 colour palettes inspired by the Carpathian forests, the Danube and the Danube Delta, sturgeon, bison and bears. On Danube Day people were encouraged to adopt the colours of the Danube and of sturgeon.

Hanny Bratu
Public Engagement Coordinator,
WWF-Romania, Tel:+40 21 317 49 96
Danube Day 2019 in Ukraine
WWF-Ukraine, together with volunteers who participated in Sturgeon Watch camp, organised games for the local children of Vilkovo. Another celebration took place at Kiliya City Park, organised in cooperation with the Joint Danube Survey (JDS4). It included live performances from local celebrities, an "environmental quest" for children and plenty of tasty traditional fish soup. People could take a picture in the special photo-zone, and received a “Danube Passport” from organisers. A press conference on the new Water Framework Directive (WFD)-compliant surface water monitoring system in Ukraine was held in Kiliya on the bank of the Danube.
National and regional water managers presented the new system and answered questions. Experts from the Dnipro Basin within the frame of the EU's Water Initiative Project shared information on the status of the Upper Dnieper River Management Plan preparation. The project helps Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine bring their legislation closer to EU policy in the field of water management, with a main focus on the management of trans-boundary river basins. It supports the development and implementation of pilot river basin management plans, building on the improved policy framework and ensuring a strong participation of local stakeholders. More specifically, the project aims to support partner countries in bringing their national policies and strategies into line with the EU Water Framework Directive and other multilateral environmental agreements.
Furthermore, the concept of JDS 4 was presented along with Ukraine’s role of in it. Special attention was paid to the connection between JDS4 and the Joint Black Sea surveys which will take place later this summer through the EU/UNDP project, “Improving Environmental Monitoring of the Black Sea: Selected Measures” (EMBLAS-Plus).
A joint public non-target chemical screening, ecological DNA and micro-plastic water sampling activity was also carried out in Kiliya. For the first time in Ukraine, special attention was paid to micro-plastic.
Tetiana Karpiuk
Environmental Education and Youth Mobilisation Officer,
WWF-Ukraine, Tel: +38 0973910003
For more information:
Hélène Masliah-Gilkarov
Public Participation & Communication
ICPDR Secretariat at UNOV
Telephone: (+43-1) 26060-4373
Fax: (+43-1) 26060-5895
Mobile: (+43 676) 845 200 220
Web: www.icpdr.or
Kayak section of the triathlon
© Plamen Yordanov
triathlon start-finish line with WWF-Bulgaria
© Plamen Yordanov
Danube Day in Ukraine
© Tetiana Karpiuk
Danube Day activities with WWF-Ukraine
© Tetiana Karpiuk