(11 October 2007: Belgrade, Serbia) The five ministers responsible for water management in Ukraine, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary and Serbia announced their support for actions protecting the Tisza River Basin from pollution, floods and drought. The announcement was made at a 14:00 press conference today during the second day of the Sixth ‘Environment for Europe Conference’ in Belgrade, Serbia.
The ministers specifically supported the main recommendations of a report launched at the press conference entitled Tisza River Basin Analysis 2007 -- Summary Report. A call to action. The report was presented by Philip Weller, Executive Secretary of the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR), the organization coordinating the report and Tisza inter-governmental cooperation.
“There is much to be proud of in the Tisza River Basin, including its unique cultures, rare flora and fauna, rich supply of natural resources and the waters of the Tisza River itself,” said Weller. “But it is the cooperation between the five Tisza countries that makes the protection of these assets possible.”
In 2004, during the first ICPDR ministerial meeting, representatives of the five countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding and agreed to prepare a Tisza River Basin Management Plan by the end of 2009. A ‘Tisza Group’ was also created to coordinate all activities for preparing the Plan. The first main activity was the development of the Tisza River Basin Analysis 2007, to help decision-makers identify the priority measures needed for protecting Tisza life and waters.
“The Plan is geared to help the Tisza countries meet the EU Water Framework Directive’s requirements by 2015,” says Joachim D’Eugenio from the European Commission’s Environment Directorate (DG Water and Marine Unit) and Chairman of the Tisza Group. “Europe-wide, the Tisza is probably the most advanced in terms of developing such a Plan at the sub-basin level. This achievement is especially important given the fact that the EU does not require sub-basin level plans, although they are strongly encouraged. Two of the five countries are not even in the EU. Furthermore, the Tisza Plan will go beyond water quality issues to also cover water quantity issues in similar depth, anticipating the future EU Flood Risk Management Directive, EU Water Scarcity Directive and Droughts Action Plan. It is truly a European model and pilot programme for other European sub-basins.”
The Summary Report notes the outstanding diversity of landscapes and species in the Tisza Basin, as well as wetland sites and protected areas. However, “this region faces serious threats from pollution and river engineering as well as floods and droughts,” it states. “The substantial demands on water resources in the region, for drinking water as well as for agriculture and industry, together with the impacts of climate change, can result in water shortages or excesses that can be disastrous.”
In response, the Tisza countries have committed to continuing discussions to unify assessment methods, provide additional information to finalize the Tisza River Basin Analysis 2007 and develop a plan of action for completing the Plan.
By the end of 2008, the draft Plan will be available for public consultation. It will include a Programme of Measures to address the priority issues of organic, nutrient and hazardous substance pollution as well as the impacts of extensive river engineering. A list of future infrastructure plans and projects will also be compiled and made publicly available.
Romania, Ukraine, Serbia, Slovakia and Hungary share the responsibility for the Tisza river basin and undertook jointly activities towards the implementation of the EU Water Freamwork Directive and the EU Flood Directive. These efforts were supported by the European Union in the frame of the TISAR 2007 and led to good results.