Cooperation on sustainable development of the Danube Delta
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International Conference on the Conservation and Sustainable Development of the Danube Delta, February 2006
Sparked by major development projects in the Danube Delta (such as the oil terminal in Gjurgjurlesti, or the opening of the Bystre mouth of the Danube for deep water navigation, cf. www.ramsar.org/ram/ram_rpt_53e_update.htm ), an ad hoc group of international organizations with an interest in the Danube Delta was established during a meeting at UNEP's Regional Office for Europe in September 2004 (including the Ramsar Secretariat, UNESCO, the Danube Commission ICPDR, European Commission, Council of Europe, UNECE Aarhus and Espoo Convention Secretariats, WWF, IUCN, Wetlands International and others).
Ukraine approached this group in early 2005, requesting its support for the organization of an international conference on the wider issues of conservation and sustainable development in the Danube Delta. This triggered a fruitful cooperation of the international group with the Ukrainian, and also the Romanian and Moldovan authorities, in preparation of the international conference, to be held on 27-28 February 2006 in Odesa (Ukraine). Preparatory meetings in Kyiv (March 2005) and Vienna (December 2005) established the agenda of the international conference and concluded that this should be preceded by three national workshops, held early in 2006 in Tulcea (Romania), Chisinau (Republic of Moldova) and Odesa (Ukraine), to elaborate visions for sustainable development and mechanisms for transboundary cooperation in the Danube Delta.
The international conference was convened by the Government of Ukraine in cooperation with the Governments of Romania and the Republic of Moldova, under the auspices of the Danube Commission (ICPDR), and with financial support by UNESCO and the European Commission. It took place in the port hotel Odessa, logistically supported by the companies Ports of Ukraine and Delta Pilot. About a hundred specialists, officials from the Foreign Affairs and Environment Ministries of the three countries, international governmental and non-governmental organizations, scientific experts, locally elected people and stakeholders from the Danube Delta region participated in the two-day conference. In plenary sessions and four smaller working groups, they discussed the current state of the Danube Delta, mechanisms for cooperation, and how to achieve the vision for conservation and sustainable development. They concluded that the Danube Delta forms a culturally and geographically unique region, situated at a strategic place in Europe. That regional development has to be planned and undertaken at an ecosystem scale in a sustainable way, taking into account ecological limitations and sensitivities, based on a common vision and cooperation among the three countries sharing the area: the Republic of Moldova, Romania and Ukraine (cf. conclusions attached).
The international conference aimed to generate a shared vision under which individual project decisions could be taken. It was a successful event, but by no means an end in itself. The participants called upon the international organizations to remain actively involved. They agreed that a follow-up meeting should be convened later in 2006. Romania proposed to host a meeting of the Joint Commission, established by the 2000 trilateral agreement on cooperation in the protected areas. With this conference, the elaboration of a shared vision for sustainable development and conservation of the Danube Delta has been started and measures to implement it were addressed, but much more needs to be done. The Ramsar Secretariat congratulates the three countries for their firm wish to do so and assures them of its further support.
-- Tobias Salathé, Ramsar
Opening session of the international conference, chaired by the ICPDR
A look over the steps linking Odessa harbour with the city, providing the famous scenery for the 1905 mutiny scenes in Eisensteins film Battleship Potemkin; hundred years later, the modern conference hotel stands proudly in the background over the icy Black Sea.
And early spring in the Danube Delta (April 2005): fishermen in Vilkovo preparing their season,