“Climate Change affects not only the environment, but all societies of the Danube River Basin and also the economy. If you want to adapt to climate change, you need to take this into consideration. Our strategy is integrative, because clean water in sufficient amounts is essential for any human development,” says Wolfgang Stalzer, ICPDR President 2012, on the occation of the commission's 15th Ordinary Meeting.
At this meeting, the long-prepared "Climate Adaptation Strategy" for the Danube River Basin was adopted. It follows a study convened through lead country Germany and months of intense preparation. The strategy is based on a thorough assessment of the possible impacts of climate change and suggests possible means to mitigate them.
Expected Climate Change Impacts
A temperature increase during this century, both annually and in every season, is expected for the Danube River Basin. While there are considerable differences among areas due to climate influencing factors such as altitude, topography and nearby seas, the main future trends foresee a generally the highest temperature increases in the south-east of the Danube River Basin.
Annual precipitation is expected to change in many countries often seasonally and regionally, resulting in increased precipitation in the north and decreased in the south. Lower precipitation in summer and higher in winter in most areas is expected in future decades. More extreme events such as torrential precipitation and widespread droughts will probably be more common, the latter mainly in Southern and Eastern parts of the Danube River Basin. These expectations are based on an analysis of the latest projects and studies with statements regarding climate change scenarios or trends available.
Possible adaptation measures for water management include: preparatory measures for adaptation (e.g. intensified monitoring activities to assess climate change impacts, forecasting and warning systems, further research to close knowledge gaps), ecosystem-based measures (e.g. implementation of a green infrastructure to connect bio-geographic regions and habitats, protection and restoration of water-retention areas), behavioural/managerial measures (including support for education, capacity-building and knowledge transfer or promotion of water-saving behaviour), technological measures (e.g. improvement of infrastructure such as more efficient irrigation systems in agriculture or the construction and modification of dams and reservoirs for different purposes like drinking water supply), and policy approaches (e.g. support of an institutional framework to coordinate activities, for example on flood risk management). With this toolkit at hand, the countries will now decide which of these measures they will endorse for implementation through management plans which are being developed until 2015.
Background of the Strategy
In order to take the required steps on adaptation to climate change, the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR) was asked in a policy paper called “Danube Declaration” from 2010 to develop a Climate Adaptation Strategy for the Danube River Basin by the end of 2012. Within the ICPDR, Germany was nominated as the lead country for this task. The first step, the ‘Danube Study – Climate Change Adaptation’, was initiated by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety and finalised in January 2012.
The study was developed by the Department of Geography of the Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich and summarises all the latest available information on climate change and adaptation relevant for the DRB. It provides a basis for the ‘ICPDR Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change’, which was now adopted by the ICPDR.
Climate change poses a serious threat to our ability to manage our water resources in the Danube River Basin. In response, the ICPDR updated its Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change in 2018 based on the most recent research in the field.
Munich, 29/30 March 2012. To make steps towards the elaboration of a Climate Adaptation Strategy, a workshop was organised by lead country Germany and the ICPDR Secretariat. This followed a process started in 2010, when ministers emphasised that the impacts of climate change will increase and develop into a significant threat in the Danube River Basin if the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is not complemented by climate adaptation measures.