For Danube Day 2021, once again more than eighty million people in the 14 Danube countries are invited to celebrate the day, learn about the waters, experience the river, and #DiscoverDanube! Events will be held partially online this year with a small number of outdoor events taking place.
While the situation has eased in the region, the pandemic continues, and necessary measures are in place to prevent the spread of the virus. As last year, Danube Day 2021 will mostly be celebrated with online events, except for a limited number of in-person ceremonies and prize-givings. This year, however, is special as Danube Day coincides with the ICPDR’s Stakeholder Consultation Workshop “Our Opinion – Our Danube”. The results from JDS4 – the Fourth Joint Danube Survey – the most comprehensive investigative surface water monitoring effort in the world, which takes place every 6 years, have also been published just a few weeks ahead of the day.
Held annually, Danube Day celebrates the Danube and the rivers that flow into it, and the vital role they play in providing water, food, power, recreation and livelihood. The day also commemorates the anniversary of the signing of the Danube River Protection Convention in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 1994. Now more than ever – during a global pandemic where our cities, societies, and lifestyles are being interrupted – preserving water needs to be a top priority.
Over the course of 18 years, Danube Day has grown to become the world’s largest international river festival, usually populating riverbanks with events and activities from the Black Forest to the Black Sea. At the international level, events are coordinated by the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR), from their Permanent Secretariat in Vienna. ICPDR member countries and partners also organize events at the national level, putting to use their local knowledge side-by-side with the international cooperation.
The ICPDR’s 2021 President, Momčilo Blagojević of Montenegro, said: “It has been an unusual time for the ICPDR and the citizens of the Danube River Basin, just like everywhere in the world. However, the strength of this international cooperation has bolstered the ability of our shared river basin to cope with unprecedented circumstances. It’s a tribute to the ICPDR that during such a difficult time, we have been able to coordinate the process of drafting, revising, and consulting the public during the formulation of the all-important updates to our Danube River Basin Management Plan and Danube Flood Risk Management Plan. They will inform our activity until 2027, and the process has proven the ingenuity and flexibility of our dynamic institution.”
The International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River is an international organization consisting of 14 cooperating states and the European Union. Since its establishment in 1998, it has grown into one of the largest and most active international bodies engaged in river basin management in Europe. Its activities relate not only to the Danube River, but also the tributaries and ground water resources of the entire Danube River Basin, with additional close links with the Black Sea.
To find out more about what Danube Day events are still running or are taking place online, please visit: www.danubeday.org and www.icpdr.org
Yesterday (30. June), experts, stakeholders and members of the public were able to #HaveTheirSay about the 2021 Updates of the Danube River Basin and Flood Risk Management Plans in the workshop “Our Opinion – Our Danube”. The workshop is a key event for the update by the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR) to its management plans and gives Danubian citizens a unique opportunity to contribute to the six-year plans.
The Danube River Basin Management Plan and Danube Flood Risk Management Plan are being revised and updated in 2021 and will guide the direction of the ICPDR for the next six years until 2027. The Stakeholder Consultation Workshop, Our Opinion – Our Danube, is one of the most important parts of this process.
For the development of these management plans, representatives of civil society and stakeholders are asked to contribute their views and have their say. The people of the Danube River Basin will be affected by the measures in the plans for generations to come and it is important that they are involved in their development from the outset.
The draft management plans have been available for comment on the ICPDR’s website since 31st March 2021, with the public invited to submit comments until 30th September 2021. These can be sent in writing to the address below, or to the dedicated email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. The comments and input from the Stakeholder Consultation Workshop will all be taken into account during the review and finalization of the plans by the end of the year.
The workshop is one occasion where the public get to meet face-to-face with ICPDR experts. Last time in 2015, the experts, stakeholders, and members of the public were able to get together in person in Zagreb. Due to the pandemic the 2021 event has been online-only, and it has proven to be a resounding success. The plan was introduced at the workshop by ICPDR President Momèilo Blagojeviæ of Montenegro and ICPDR Executive Secretary Ivan Zavadsky. The floor was then given to representatives of various stakeholder groups, starting with the next generation and a speech from President of the Sava Youth Parliament, Tana Bertiæ. Representatives from the following 9 key stakeholders, who are also among the ICPDR’s 24 Observers made statements on behalf of their organizations:
- Irene Lucius of WWF-CEE
- Gerd Frik of VGB Powertech e.V.
- Theresia Hacksteiner of the European Barge Union
- Gerhard Nagl of the Danube Environmental Forum
- Peter Gammeltoft of the Danube Sturgeon Task Force
- Cristina Sandu of the International Association for Danube Research (IAD)
- Balázs Horváth of Priority Area 4 of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR PA 4)
- László Balatonyi of Priority Area 5 of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR PA 5)
- and independent academic, Wolfram Mauser.
Five pre-determined Thematic Areas relevant to the two plans were discussed in a series of Danube Café workshop sessions. The outcome of these sessions was gathered and delivered during the “We Discussed Danube” session on the second day of the workshop, and all comments will be taken into consideration during the finalization of both plans due in December 2021.
The outcome of the workshop will be included in the Public Consultation Report 2021, which will be available on the ICPDR website including all the original comments raised by stakeholders and the public. (UNIS)