On 13 and 14 December, the ICPDR Danube Basin | ICPDR – International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River held its Ordinary annual meeting in Vienna. It gathered the representatives of the Contracting Parties as well as observers, amongst them the IWT sector.

In the meeting, special attention was paid to “Drought in the Danube River Basin DRB” and the “Joint Statement for Inland Navigation and Environmental Sustainability”.

Drought is expected to become a major topic for water management in the near future. Climate change will bring new challenges to the inland navigation sector. Impacts have been felt as the navigability of the Danube River has been affected for several weeks during the summer 2022 due to low water levels and lacking maintenance. Certain river stretches have even fallen dry this summer in the DRB.

The ICPDR acknowledged the need to take initial action in response to the drought of 2022 and will ask the Contracting Parties to provide related information on the drought to develop an initial basin-wide overview. At a later stage, stakeholders will be involved in the process.

The Joint Statement on Guiding Principles for the Development of Inland Navigation and Environmental Protection in the Danube River Basin was developed by the ICPDR together with the Danube Commission (DC) and the International Sava River Basin Commission (ISRBC) and adopted in 2008. It summarizes principles and criteria for environmentally sustainable inland navigation on the Danube and its tributaries, including the maintenance of existing waterways and the development of future waterway infrastructure. It guides (i) the development of the `Programme of Measures´ requested by the EU Water Framework Directive, (ii) the maintenance of the current inland navigation and (iii) the planning and investments in future infrastructure and environmental protection projects.

The ICPDR acknowledged the general need to analyze the current situation regarding the Joint Statement and its possible update in cooperation with the river commissions.

The IWT sector encourages this initiative which should take into consideration newly adopted EU policies such as the Smart and Sustainable Mobility Strategy and the major challenges to cope with the impact of climate change.


Author: Theresia Hacksteiner