The14th Steering Group meeting was held in Budapest, organized by the Hungarian coordination of the EUSDR, 5-6 December 2018. Beyond the delegates of the Danube countries, also Observers (ICPDR, GWP CEE, Carpathian Convention, EUSDR PA4), the newDanube Strategy Point and the representative of the DTP Joint Secretariat took part the meeting. Furthermore, 10 PA5 related projects were presented by the relevant managers.
The meeting started with the opening remarks from Mr Károly Gombás, Hungarian Co-coordinator of PA5 and Mr Viktor Oroszi, Head of Danube Region Strategy Division from the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade where they presented the EUSDR PA5 activities since the last meeting. Besides the many events organized by the priority area, they highlighted some of the most successful events related to environmental risks.
One of them was the “Plastic Cup – Waste collection As Adventure” in summer of 2018, where the team composed of Indian, American, British, Italian, Slovene, Serbian, Ukrainian, Moroccan and Hungarian experts on board by the support of the MFAT of Hungary won the contest of collecting more plastic bottles than any other participants in the Upper-Tisa region from Tisa River. You may find a short movie about the event if you click here: https://www.facebook.com/petkupa/videos/251442089047778/
Another great achievement was the Journal of Environmental Geography special edition, where the thematic issue on „Climate Change Adaptation in the Danube Region” was financed by EUSDR PA5. It is a peer-reviewed open access online journal published by the University of Szeged. The issue facilitates to raise awareness and gather stakeholders to share knowledge and focus on the better preparedness and resilience of the Danube countries against the adverse effects of climate change. I also gives a great opportunity to trace the Danube basin research progress in order to stimulate further investigation topics. Please find the online version here: https://content.sciendo.com/view/journals/jengeo/11/3-4/jengeo.11.issue-3-4.xml
The participants received updates on the Danube Transnational Programme 3rd Call from Gusztáv Csomor form the Joint Secretariat. As he highlighted, there are two Specific Objectives (SO) which are related to PA5. One of them, the SO 2.1 focuses on strengthening joint and integrated approaches to further develop and implement River Basin Management Plans in the Partner States in line with the overall Danube River Basin Management Plan in order to improve transnational water management and flood risk prevention contributing to the sustainable provision of ecosystem services. The other is SO2.4 with the scope of establishing and developing a more effective governance system for environmental protection addressing emergency situations and improve the preparedness of public authorities and civil protection organisation contributing to the reduction of risks and impact on ecosystem services, biodiversity and human health. Both aims are strongly connected to the Action Plan of the priority area 5.
The Global Water Partnership Central and Eastern Europe introduced the Integrated Drought Management Programme and its key components. As an implementation of their efforts, the DriDanube project and the drought policy review elaborated jointly with EUSDR PA5 was also part of the summary.
The New Danube Strategy Point project was represented by Ms Mihaela Florea, Danube Strategy Point officer, who gave an insight of the aims of the project, which has a main objective to support the priority areas work.
As the Romanian Presidency of the Danube Region started, the Romanian co-coordination of PA5 informed the participants about the upcoming program and focus areas.
Therefore Igor Liska from ICPDR Permanent Secretariat focused his presentation on the status of the cooperation between ICPDR and DRS. There are many activities which require joint work from the two coordination, but also from ICPDR. PA5 priority area also has a great cooperation with EUSDR PA4 (water quality). Mr Balázs Horváth, Hungarian co-coordinator of PA4 presented their activities and one good example of these efforts by introducing JOINTISZA project. On the second day of the ongoing projects supported by EUSDR PA5 gave a short overview about their activities, including DAREFFORT, Danube Floodplain, Danube Sediment, DAREnet, InterFloodCourse, WaterAtRisk, SEDDON-2 and PLATFORM.
The ongoing revision of the EUSDR Action plan was also a highlighted topic of the Steering Group meeting, where the first version of the renewed PA5 action plan was drafted by the SG members and observers.