ICPDR highlighted at 3rd EUSDR Annual Conference

Over 1200 participants registered at the 3rd EUSDR Annual Conference in Vienna last week. The event followed similar endeavours in Regensburg and Bucharest and drew support from all levels, including EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn, federal and regional ministers, mayors and high-level civil servants, as well as delegates from civil society, private sector and international organisations.

The ICPDR was in the spotlight at several moments during the conference. A dedicated “speaker’s corner” session celebrated “20 Years of ICPDR”, featuring Executive Secretary Ivan Zavadsky, ICPDR Good Will Ambassador and ICPDR President 2012 Wolfgang Stalzer and Maria Pinter of next year’s presiding country Croatia on behalf of Drazen Kurecic.

A plenary session featured Deputy Minister Ermina Salkicevic-Dizdarevic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, ICPDR President 2013, who passionately underlined the ample experience of the ICPDR in issues related to water management and the associated transboundary cooperation in support of the pursuit of the EUSDR.

Workshops organised by PA4 (Water Quality) and PA5 (Environmental Risks) saw strong arguments in frank debates on the role of the ICPDR in the context of the EUSDR. Notably Karl Schwaiger of Austria, Head of Delegation to the ICPDR and involved in the EUSDR for Austria, contributed valuable views to a session moderated by former ICPDR Secretariat staff member Birgit Vogel.

Over 1200 participants at Vienna city hall

Executive Secretary Ivan Zavadsky presented the documentary “The Danube – Europe’s Amazon” to the plenary. The ICPDR cooperated with WWF and Cristina Sandu of IAD in equipping the exhibition stall of PA6 (Biodiversity) on Danube sturgeons. Posters were developed especially for the exhibition, as well as a seven by two metre large banner featuring a beluga sturgeon in the maximum documented life size. EU Commissioner for Regional Development Johannes Hahn commented favourably on the banner.

ICPDR Secretariat staff presented technical publications and disseminated over 500 copies of the special issue of Danube Watch on the 20th anniversary of the Danube River Protection Convention together with a written address by ICPDR President 2014, Deputy Minister Atanas Kostadinov (see download section below). Complimented with a Danube Day bag, the package proved very popular and increased ICPDR visibility at the event considerably. Members of ICPDR delegations, expert groups and secretariat staff received pins to show their affiliation.

Perhaps most importantly for the long-term impact of the 3rd EUSDR Annual Conference, the concluding joint statement of the ministers of foreign affairs of the participating states of the EUSDR and of the European Commission referred directly to the ICPDR in two crucial issues: acknowledging the role of the ICPDR with regard to co-operation in flood prevention, protection and relief; and with regards to the significance as an existing cooperation mechanism. The joint statement emphasised the importance of streamlining the interconnections between EUSDR and relevant regional institutions, while avoiding potential duplications and overlaps.

Gallery

  • The exhibition stand of PA6 (Biodiversity) on sturgeons, here supported by Valeriya Gyosheva of the ICPDR.
  • Maria Pinter of Croatia delivering a speech on behalf of HoD Drazen Kurecic at the "20 Years of ICPDR" speaker's corner.
  • ICPDR Executive Secretary Ivan Zavadsky presenting the documentary "The Danube - Europe's Amazon" to the plenary.
  • 1200 registered participants created ample opportunities to network and exchange ideas.
  • The ICPDR family gathered for a special session on "20 Years of ICPDR", including delegation members, chairpersons, former presidents and secretariat staff.
  • This two by seven meter large banner depicts a beluga sturgeon in life-size. Positioned prominently in the main meeting hall, it was positively commented on by EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn.
  • The interest in the 3rd Annual Conference was enormous: 1200 people attended the event at Vienna city hall.
  • EU Commissioner for Regional Development, Johannes Hahn, delivered a keynote in his native city Vienna.
  • Due to the high number of participants, the plenary sessions had to be transmitted to other rooms via screens and speakers.
  • The information stand of PA6 featured Danube sturgeons, backed mainly by WWF, IAD and ICPDR.
  • ICPDR President 2012 Ermina Salkivecic-Dizdarevic passionately emphasised the importance of the ICPDR for the success of the EUSDR to the plenary.
  • Ermina Salkicevic-Dizdarevic highligted among other issues the cooperation between ICPDR, Coca-Cola Hellenic and The Coca-Cola Company.
  • A projection of questions at a plenary session, drawing attention to the ICPDR.
  • The importance of involving existing structures such as the ICPDR was underlined during this session.
  • The cooperation between ICPDR and other river basin commissions including some from far-away regions such as China were also discussed.
  • More than 500 Danube Day Bags with a special issue of Danube Watch and an address by ICPDR President Atanas Kostadinov were disseminated at the conference.
  • A session hosted by PA4 (Water Quality) featuring the Slovak HoD Martin Bacik. Moderated by former ICPDR Secretariat staff member Birgit Vogel, it included a very open presentation by Austrian HoD Karl Schwaiger.
  • ICPDR Technical Expert Raimund Mair enhancing a view on EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn.
  • Special pins were provided for members of ICPDR expert groups, delegations and secretariat staff.
  • A critical question on the "questions board" during an early session of the conference, drawn up by a participant.
  • Danube Environment Forum legend Gerhard Nagl, ICPDR observer, observing the course of the Annual Conference. Several ICPDR observer organisations were present and created opportunities to meet and network.

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