International Waters learning Exchange & Resource Network

Danube River Basin Environmental Management

The EPDRB was established in Sofia in September 1991 by the countries of the Danube river basin, international institutions, financial organisations, G-24 countries and NGOs, to start an initiative to support, enhance and reinforce actions for the restoration and protection of the Danube river. The countries also set up a Task Force and a Programme Coordination Unit for the implementation of the Danube Environmental Programme (short name), and agreed on further development of the Danube River Protection Convention. The main funding partners in the Programme were the Global Environment Facility, the European Union's PHARE and TACIS Programmes, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the World Bank, Austria, Netherlands and United States and the private Barbara Gauntlett Foundation. The EPDRB was designed to support the Danube countries in their long term objective of improving the environmental management of the Danube river basin and to enable the practical work to begin. In parallel, an international convention for the protection of the river Danube and its catchment area was being negotiated. The Danube Environmental Programme supported monitoring, collection and assessment of data, emergency response systems, pre-investment studies, institutional strengthening, capacity building and NGO activities. The Work Plan consisted of three phases: short term actions, development of the Strategic Action Plan (SAP) and the investment programme, and development of institutional and technical building blocks for environmental management. Priority was given to establish a Danube Accident and Emergency Warning System (AEWS), to adopt a common surveying and monitoring procedure throughout the so called Transnational Monitoring Network (TNMN), and to take steps towards the conservation and restoration of wetlands. Activities leading towards the preparation of the SAP included the provision of information on the environmental quality of river Danube. A series of diagnostic missions in the Pre-investment studies, defined by the Work Plan as a short term priority and funded by the international financing institutions, were undertaken between 1992 and 1994. They were carried out in 17 tributary catchment of the Danube basin. An analysis was made of the tributaries which are heavily polluted. The aim was to prioritise "hot-spots" for urgent action according the seriousness of the pollution and its effects. Approximately 175 priority projects were received and of these about 60% were related to industrial facilities and the rest from the municipal waste water treatment plants (WWTP). Surveys were conducted by Equipe Cousteau on Danube Wet Zones, Danube Pollution, Navigation and Transportation, and Energy in the Danube countries. Subsequently, an Integrated Regional Environmental Study and Inventory of Biological Resources was prepared for the EPDRB. An Economic Evaluation of Danube Flood plains was prepared by WWF. A study by WHO was used as a basis for the environmental health related issues in the SAP. Shortly after the SAP in 1994 was accepted implementation started through the Strategic Action Plan Implementation Programme (SIP). The EPDRB also presented an interesting political and legislative challenge to the Danube countries. This challenge arose from the high significance of the transboundary pollution impacts and in finding the right type of support to strengthen the capacity of governments and institutions at the national and local levels for implementing and financing the solutions. Tasks completed on environmental management and institutional development in the Region included: * a review of Monitoring, Laboratory and Information Management (MLIM) practices in order to assess the needs (provision of new systems, equipment, training) to provide the required information, * institutional development ("Strengthening Networks, Institutions, Human Resources and Non Government Organisations ") under which included the improvement of administration practices, support on forward-looking legislation and environmental standards setting, * inventory activities providing accurate knowledge on the environmental status in the Danube basin.

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Documents & Resources
General information
GEF ID 399
Project type Full-Size Project
Status closed (Project Closure)
Start Date 10 Sep 1991
End Date 01 Mar 1996
GEF characteristic:
Focal Area International Waters
GEF Allocation to project USD 8,500,000
Total Cost of the project: USD 43,500,000
YES - See results data (399)
Bulgaria , Croatia , Czech Republic , Hungary , Moldova Republic of , Romania , Slovakia , Slovenia , Ukraine , Regional

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Project contacts
Joachim Bendow Executive Secretary
Ivan Zavadsky Executive Secretary
Andrew Menz Deputy Regional Director