International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR) gets a new Executive Secretary

25/08/2003

The Ramsar Bureau is particularly happy to welcome Philip Weller as the new Executive Secretary of the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River. As the former director of WWF's Danube-Carpathian Programme, Philip was instrumental in forging close links among the 13 Danube catchment basin states and the European Commission that are parties to the Danube River Protection Convention, of which ICPDR is the operative arm.

Philip was the driving force behind the "Lower Danube Green Corridor Agreement" (of which the Ramsar Bureau is a depository), signed in 2000 by Bulgaria, the Republic of Moldova, Romania, and Ukraine, establishing the largest transboundary wetland protection and restoration initiative in Europe. Philip, together with his former colleagues of WWF and three national NGOs in Austria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, received a Ramsar Award in 2002 for the preparation of the transboundary Morava-Diye floodplain Ramsar platform and conservation initiative. Most recently, Philip contributed to the development of the new GEF-funded regional project for the Danube basin and participated in the Ecological Expert Group established by the ICPDR (reported here in October 2002).

The work of this group provides an excellent platform to integrate Ramsar principles and tools into river basin management of the Danube basin and its tributaries. It is guided by the requirements of the European Union Water Framework Directive aiming at the provision of good quality surface and groundwater, the protection of the environment, and the alleviation of the impact of floods and droughts. By creating a true sense of cooperation and exchange of know-how, ICPDR and its members are showing the world how to implement integrated river basin management at large scale in a politically complex situation.

We are looking forward to continuing this fruitful cooperation with the ICPDR, hopefully also at national level in the Danube states, and the Bureau also congratulates the outgoing Executive Secretary, Joachim Bendow, for his achievements, wishing him well.

-- Tobias Salathé, Ramsar Regional Coordinator for Europe

Photo (from the ICPDR website) left Joachim Bendow, right Philip Weller, in front of the UN offices in Vienna, the seat of the ICPDR.


United Nations Information Service, press release

NEW EXECUTIVE SECRETARY
OF THE INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION FOR
THE PROTECTION OF THE DANUBE RIVER (ICPDR)

VIENNA, 20 August, (UN Information Service) -- Philip Weller was appointed the new Executive Secretary of the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR) on 1 August 2003.

As the new Executive Secretary of the ICPDR, Mr. Weller believes his main challenge will be to strenghten cooperation between Danube River Basin countries to reduce pollution thereby ensuring better water quality. This task, he has asserted, will be greatly facilitated by innovative EU water management legislation, called the EU Water Framework Directive, which guides the ICPDR's work. Even non-EU member countries in the Danube River Basin have committed themselves to implementing this Directive which calls for achieving a sound ecological status for all rivers in the European Union by 2015. Mr. Weller also wants to establish mechanisms for effective multilateral river basin management.

An environmental planner, Mr. Weller studied Environmental Science at the University of Waterloo, Canada, where he received a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning. As Director of the Worldwide Fund for Nature's Danube Carpathian Programme, 1995-2002, Mr. Weller was the driving force behind the "Lower Danube Green Corridor Agreement," an accord between Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova and the Ukraine to establish the largest wetland protection and restoration initiative in Europe.

Previously, he served for four years as director of Great Lakes United, a unique bi-national coalition of interest groups that included local municipalities, research organizations, businesses and NGOs in both Canada and the U.S., and which focused on cleaning-up the Great Lakes. Mr. Weller has also managed successful consulting businesses in both Canada and Austria, and undertaken numerous assignments for governments and international organizations.

Mr. Weller has considerable practical experience in the restoration of natural ecosystems, and in promoting public involvement in environmental decision-making. In February 2000, he was appointed a member of the Baia Mare Taskforce, an EU initiative by Margot Wallström, EU Commissioner for the Environment, whose task was to follow up the cyanide spill from a gold mine in Baia Mare in Romania. He also played a major role in the organization of the Danube Carpathian Heads of State Summit held in April 2001.

Mr. Weller is the author of three books on environmental topics including Freshwater Seas, an environmental history of the North American Great Lakes.

For further information please contact:
Jasmine BACHMANN,
Public Participation and Public Relations,
ICPDR Secretariat at UNOV
E-mail: jasmine.bachmann@unvienna.org
Web: http://www.icpdr.org

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