Ministers ratify agreement on the Danube and Tisza

The countries of the Danube River Basin endorsed the Danube Declaration on 16 December pledging to strengthen transboundary cooperation on sustainable water resource management within the region. The Declaration was finalised at the first ministerial meeting of the Danube River Protection Convention in Vienna.

Ministers from Austria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Moldova, Romania, Serbia & Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine and the European Commission adopted the Danube Basin Analysis, which meets the EU Water Framework Directive.

Measures include the Danube River Basin Management Plan, due for completion in 2009, and the end of sewage discharge into the Danube through the construction of EU-funded treatment facilities by 2015

In addition, the Tisza Agreement, specifying additional commitments to coordinate water quality and flood risk management in the Tisza River Basin, was signed by Hungary, Romania, Serbia & Montenegro, Slovakia and Ukraine.

Local communities in the Tisza river basin remain at risk from floods and industrial pollution five years after a cyanide leak from a northern Romanian goldmine travelled down the river. A new report from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) says that despite the lessons learned from the 'Baia Mare' catastrophe in January 2000, the river basin, its people and nature remain threatened by environmental insecurity.

The report says the river basin ecosystem is regenerating itself after the accident but more concerted action is needed and UNEP recommends an Integrated Sustainable Development Strategy for the entire catchment area. The organisation's European director, Frits Schlingemann said such a strategy was needed to integrate land and water use management.

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