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					EU Danube Strategy
Ensuring a strategy for long-term, sustainable prosperity in the Danube basin


Discussion paper




Submitted by:
WWF-International Danube-Carpathian Programme, on behalf of the WWF
global network


Draft version: 3 March 2010

This document is a discussion paper and a living document. Feedback and
comments are welcome. A final version of the document will be prepared by
end of March 2010 for final submission as the position of WWF to the
European Commission’s public consultation on the Danube Strategy.


Contact:
   Andreas Beckmann, Director; Email: abeckmann@wwfdcp.org
   Irene Lucius, Head of Policy; Email: ilucius@wwfdcp.org
WWF-International Danube-Carpathian Programme, www.panda.org/dcpo



                                                                                1
Vision: A “Green” Economy for the Danube region

The EU Danube Strategy is being developed at a time of a paradigm shift,
sparked by the financial and economic crises and the threat of catastrophic
climate change as well as the precipitious loss of biodiversity and ecosystem
services.

The Commission Working Document Consultation on the Future of the EU
2020 Strategy1 concludes: “The exit from the crisis should be the point of
entry into a new sustainable social market economy, a smarter, greener
economy, where our priority will come from innovation and from using
resources better, and where the key input will be knowledge”. Other recent
policy initiatives such as the Communication from the Commission to the
Council and the European Parliament GDP and beyond – Measuring progress
in a changing world2, or the report The Economics of Ecosystems and
Biodiversity (TEEB) for Policy Makers3 also reflect this growing insight that
economic security and human wellbeing are fundamentally dependent on
environmental goods and services – every person on earth depends upon the
ability of intact ecosystems to sustain food, fibre, and freshwater provision,
climate regulation, nutrient recycling and waste assimilation.4

Achieving a “green economy” presents a significant challenge, but also a
significant opportunity – a chance to address several crises at once and point
the way toward a longer-term, sustainable future.5

The EU Sustainable Development Strategy and Climate and Energy Package 6
and the 2009 Review of the European Union Strategy for Sustainable
Development, Mainstreaming sustainable development into EU policies,7 point
to a future with dramatic increases in energy efficiency and significant reliance
on clean and renewable sources such as wind, solar and biomass; where
resources are used far more efficiently; where waste is not only minimised,
but actually transformed through re-designed production and consumption

1
    COM(2009)647 final, see: http://ec.europa.eu/eu2020/pdf/eu2020_en.pdf
2
  COM(2009) 433 final, see: http://eur-
lex.europa.eu/Notice.do?checktexts=checkbox&val=499855
3
    See: http://www.teebweb.org/ForPolicymakers/tabid/1019/language/en-US/Default.aspx
4
  See also: Millenium Ecosystem Assessment. 2005. Ecosystems and human Well-being:
Biodiversity synthesis. World Resources Institute. Island Press, Washington, D.C.
5
  The OECD has defined “Green Growth” as follows: “Green growth means promoting
economic growth and development while reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions,
minimising waste and inefficient use of natural resources, maintaining biodiversity, and
strengthening energy security, including through reducing dependence on fossil fuel imports.
This means the need to aim for „decoupling‟ between environmental impacts and economic
growth. It means making investment in the environment a driver for economic growth and
development. Green growth also means promoting social well-being through changing
patterns of consumption and production, reducing poverty and ensuring improved health and
jobs prospects for populations.” In: OECD – C(2009)168, 20 November 2009.
6
    EU Climate and Energy Package (3736/08, 8037/09 ADD1).
7
    http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2009:0400:FIN:EN:PDF


                                                                                               2
processes to make a closed loop, with waste from one process serving as an
essential input for another; where essential biodiversity and ecosystem
services are safeguarded and enhanced, not only through targetted
investments but also by fully integrating environmental concerns in all sectoral
policymaking, from agriculture to transportation.

In short, realising this vision is – to a significant extent – not only guided but
even required by existing EU policies and legislation.

The Danube region is in fact well placed to lead Europe in pursuing the vision
of a green economy, and the Danube Strategy can make use of the present
momentum for change. The greater Danube region is still rich in natural
values and the ecosystem goods and services that they provide, from wood
and other fibre to carbon sequestration, biodiversity and water purification.
After years of being taken largely for granted, this natural capital is gaining
appreciation – increasingly also in economic and financial terms (e.g.
ecotourism, high-value organic or natural food or health products, carbon
credits, agri-environmental schemes as well as other kinds of payments for
ecosystem services), opening new opportunities for local livelihoods.

Good examples abound – what is needed is a push to upscale them and
make them the norm rather than the exception. Romanian forests are
supplying certified wood to an increasingly conscious European consumer
market. Hiking, biking and agro- tourism is growing across the region, from
Austria to Bulgaria. Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova and Ukraine are
implementing Europe‟s most ambitious floodplain protection and restoration
project, the Lower Danube Green Corridor – both to secure the area‟s
prodigious biodiversity but especially to enhance valuable ecosystem services
including flood/water management and water purification as lower cost
alternatives to more expensive, “hard” infrastructure solutions.

The relative underdevelopment, in economic terms, of many countries of the
region vis-a-vis their western neighbours is less a handicap than an
opportunity to leap-frog in development by applying best practice. In doing so,
the countries can draw not only on the know how and experience (both good
and less good) of their western neighbours but also on their financing and
support – indeed, the challenge is less a lack of resources and investment as
the wise and effective use of what investment exists.

By setting challenging and ambitious targets, e.g. related to improvements in
water quality, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, or integration of nature
conservation in economic development, we can stimulate innovation – as
demonstrated time and again, e.g. by the car industry in terms of improving
emissions.




                                                                                3
Essential legislation and instruments for achieving this vision already exist. 8
What is missing is awareness, coordination and willingness to ensure their
effective implementation. The Danube Strategy can provide this.


Developing the Danube Strategy
The current approach to developing the Danube Strategy follows three parallel
pillars – one for environment, one for socio-economic development, and one
for “connectivity”, including especially transport, energy and information and
communication technology. The approach is understandable considering the
reality of our societies, governments and administrations, organised as they
are around sectoral interests, from transportation to environment, and the
need to provide a process in which each interest can readily find “their place”,
and do so under considerable time pressure.
However, the approach implicitly assumes that the pillars are essentially
separate from one another and not interrelated. It also essentially jumps to
conclusions – inviting the identification of sectoral priorities and even projects
without embedding these in a broader framework of vision, goals and
objectives to which they should contribute, beyond a very vague nod to
“sustainable development”.
Parallel, sectoral measures may contradict and even undermine one another.
Unfortunately, all too many examples already exist in the region where e.g.
environmental protection and restoration projects are directly undermined by
development initiatives, and vice versa. The EU Danube Strategy should help
to avoid such conflicts rather than further encourage such parallel and
contradictory developments.
Essential for identifying specific actions and measures is to outline the
overarching vision and objectives to be achieved – otherwise we risk not only
having the tail wag the dog, but also lose valuable opportunities for
development.

Example: Project before vision? (or: Tail wagging dog?)
The importance of having a clear vision is underlined by current discussion of
inland navigation within the Danube Strategy. This discussion seems to be
missing a clear vision or understanding of how development of shipping on
the Danube will contribute to achieving overall development objectives for the
region.
There appears to be a common assumption that turning the Danube into the
Rhine, in terms of shipping infrastructure, will automatically bestow the
Danube region with the socio-economic development of the Rhineland – a
dangerous assumption, especially considering that shipping is appropriate for

8
  Among others: EU Action Plan for Energy Efficiency, aiming at saving 20% energy by 2020,
and including e.g. the Energy Performance in Buildings Directive, requiring EU member states
to promote low- or zero-energy buildings; Sustainable Consumption and Action Plan,
                                                                                           th
including e.g. guidance for EU Member States related to green public procurement; EU 6
Environmental Action Programme; EU Water Framework Directive; EU Habitats and Birds
Directives.



                                                                                           4
limited kinds of goods, especially bulk commodities, and the existing capacity
of the Danube is currently not being used. Indeed, if the objective of the
Danube Strategy is to develop a future-oriented information society, then we
may be better off investing in information highways to move bits and bytes
rather than in expensive canals to move bulk commodities such as coal, steel
and wheat.
In short, without a clear and realistic vision and objective for what we want to
achieve as a society as a whole, we could end up investing huge amounts of
money in developing Danube navigation – only to have empty barges with
nothing to ship on a regulated river that has lost its potential to deliver
ecosystem services. This would be a costly mistake – in terms of wasted
investment as well as opportunity costs.

In the previous section, we outlined the vision that we think can and must be
pursued, and that in fact in essence is required by existing EU and national
policies and legislation. This vision is based on a hierarchy or pyramid of
foundations that we think are esential to ensuring the Danube Strategy‟s
success:
1) Firstly, the need most basically to
secure and enhance essential
ecosystem goods and services
(natural capital) as the basis for all
human health and well-being.
Economic security as well as human
wellbeing       are    fundamentally
dependent on environmental goods
and services – every person on
earth depends upon the ability of
intact ecosystems to sustain food,
fibre, and freshwater provision,
climate regulation, nutrient recycling
and waste assimilation.
2) Secondly, layered on top of this, the need to secure and enhance social
and human capital, including the essential glue that holds our societies and
communities together, our social infrastructure and systems of governance,
our institutions, mores and values as well as traditions and broader culture, as
well as our human capital, including innovation, know how and capacity – all
essential determinants for mediating how effectively and efficiently we
organise ourselves, our communities, societies and civilisations;
3) Thirdly, and only after and on top of the previous layers of natural and
social/human capital, should come investments in our productive capital,
including investments in physical infrastructure e.g. for transportation or
energy.
Taking such an approach will ensure that the Danube Strategy is built on the
firmest of foundations – ensuring the long-term well-being of our societies by
safeguarding the essential ecosystem goods and services on which we
depend while enhancing the social and human capital that undergirds how our
economies and broader societies function. An opposite approach, or one


                                                                              5
which sets each of the above layers equal, risks being at best inefficient and
ineffective, and quite possibly destructive.

Consultations on the Strategy should logically take the same approach – first
focusing on and clarifying the overall vision and objectives that should be
achieved, and only then looking at the development of specific and individual
measures contributing to these greater objectives. Where possible,
discussions of measures should be open to participants from different
backgrounds, e.g. by scheduling thematic workshops consecutively rather
than in parallel.

Recommendations:
   Base the Danube Strategy, including relevant consultations, firmly on
    analysis of existing natural and social capital as well as options and visions
    for sustainable economic development in the region.
   Ensure that specific interventions, particularly in terms of development of
    physical and financial capital or physical infrastructure (e.g. related to
    transportation, energy, etc.) are based on and respond to the previously
    mentioned analysis, rather than vice versa.
   Check all proposals against existing environmental policies and legislation,
    including among others the Water Framework Directive, Habitats and Birds
    Directives, Danube River Basin Management Plan, Habitat and Birds
    Directives, Climate and Energy Package, Carpathian Convention and
    related protocols, etc.
   Build on existing plans and tools, including particularly the Danube River
    Basin Management Plan and the Carpathian Convention. The Danube
    River Basin Management Plan, which has been developed and adopted by
    all countries in the Danube river basin in line with requirements of the EU
    Water Framework Directive, provides a broad, cross-sectoral and trans-
    national basis for development in the region. Likewise, the Carpathian
    Convention provides a broad, cross-sectoral and transnational basis for
    protection and sustainable development in the mountain areas of seven
    countries of the Danube basin. The publication Visions and Strategies in
    the Carpathian Area, developed under the Convention, is the first
    transnational spatial development document for the entire Carpathian
    region, building on the example of the Visions and Strategies around the
    Baltic Sea. It encompasses concrete analysis and recommendations for
    nine action areas of importance for the implementation of the Danube
    Strategy.
   Redefine the scope of the pillars “Connectivity” and “Socio-economic
    development”:
    Connectivity should include a reference to the maintenance or
    rehabilitation of ecological connectivity, i.e. infrastructure measures (e.g.
    hydropower dams, energy transmission, motorways and river regulation
    work for navigation) should avoid disconnecting habitats and migration
    corridors of fauna and flora;




                                                                                6
    Socio-economic development should be renamed “sustainable
    development” and refer to major EU policy goals to achieve environmental
    integration and a resource-efficient economies
   Strongly encourage cross-sectoral planning and approaches, e.g. between
    ministries and relevant authorities as well as among stakeholders, where
    securing and enhancing natural and social capital is a constant baseline
    and priority. Simply put, we must ensure that investments in physical
    infrastructure leave us on the whole better rather than worse off, not only
    in the short but also longer-term.

Specifically with regard to the consultation process for the EU Danube
Strategy:
   Begin with plenary presentations/discussions of the overall vision and
    objectives for the EU Danube Strategy, based on principles of sustainable
    development. These should be farreaching and forward thinking, going
    well beyond a simple projection of business as usual.
   Provide a firm grounding for discussions by providing analysis of natural
    and social capital and, on top of this, options and visions for sustainable
    economic development.
   Make sure that in all sessions there are participants who are well aware of
    regional and EU environmental policies and legislation and are able to
    communicate them during discussions and as input to conclusions of the
    session
   Where possible, organise break-out groups with a sectoral focus
    consecutively rather than in parallel, or mixed, in order to permit cross-
    sectoral participation.
   Involve representatives of civil society in consultation events, including
    from the environmental and social spheres. Include them where possible in
    development and planning of events and as speakers, moderators and
    facilitators.
   Provide sufficient time in programmes for representation of opinions from
    civil society and stakeholders as well as discussion.


Geographic scope

The core area for the Danube Strategy should be the Danube River Basin,
with a flexible, issues-based approach depending on specific issues at hand,
as has been adopted for the Baltic Strategy.
While the Danube River provides an attractive and compelling conceptual
approach and organising principle, the Strategy cannot be limited to the
immediate river and related issues but must rather include the broader river
basin, including e.g. the highland areas that drain into it. For example: 80% of
water in the Carpathian Mountains drains into the Danube, making the
mountains important not only in their own right, but crucial for addressing e.g.
flood and water management and waste on the river itself.


                                                                              7
Indeed, we need to be careful that the conceptual focus on the “Blue Danube”
does not cause us to miss the larger picture. For example, the major focus on
Danube navigation in discussions on the Danube Strategy to date has
relatively overshadowed a more comprehensive consideration of mobility in
the broader Danube region (see section further below specifically on the issue
of mobility). In terms of transportation of freight and passengers, navigation is
only one relatively small piece of a much larger puzzle – yet nevertheless has
dominated all discussion.


Promote a low-carbon economy

Recognising the catastrophic threat posed by climate change, in 2009 the
leaders of the European Union and the G8 announced an objective to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. An
array of EU policies and legislation take steps toward this longer-term
objective, from the EU‟s Climate and Energy Package, which e.g. sets targets
of 20% energy from renewables by 2020, to the EU‟s Energy Efficiency Action
Plan, which sets a similar target for energy efficiency.9

It is important to note that de-carbonizing our economy has benefits that reach
well beyond climate change mitigation and that are particularly relevant for the
Danube countries, including:
   Increased security as a result of decreasing reliance on energy imports
    especially from Russia as well as from the Middle East and other
    countries;
   Stable and predictable energy supplies as well as lower energy prices
    per unit of output over the longer-term;
   Economic growth and job creation resulting from investments in energy
    efficiency, clean technology and new infrastructure as well as possible
    development of new export industries. Also, spending on energy would
    remain productive in the local and regional economies (e.g. going to local
    farmers to pay for biomass) instead of being sent abroad;
   Health and environmental benefits from reduced pollution to air, land
    and water.

Experts agree that decarbonising our economies is technically and
economically feasible, but that there is no time to lose. The longer we wait to
take action toward a low-carbon economy, the greater the costs will be – both
in terms of impacts from climate change as well as the actual costs of taking
action.10 This is particularly relevant for many of the less developed Danube
countries, where investments will shape development paths for decades to
come. Investments made in energy inefficient buildings or coal-fired power

9
 EU Climate and Energy Package adopted in 2009, EU Energy Efficiency Action Plan, EU
Energy Performance in Buildings Directive (re-cast, political agreement in November 2009,
expected to be formally adopted in early 2010).




                                                                                       8
plants today will produce unnecessary emissions and costs over their lifetimes
(20 to 60 years) – and represent significant opportunity costs.

Energy efficiency should have top priority for implementation, for a number of
reasons:
   Energy saved is energy that does not need to be produced. This saves
    money, which can remain productive in local economies rather than being
    sent to Siberia or Saudi Arabia, and avoids the costs and impacts
    associated with most energy production, be it nuclear (e.g. radioactive
    waste, risk) or hydro or wind power (impacts on local ecosystems and
    migratory species). It also saves on emissions of greenhouse gases,
    reducing global warming and improving air quality.
   Energy efficiency is good for employment. Improvements to energy
    performance in buildings through installation of thermal insulation,
    retrofitting, etc., for instance, is relatively labor intensive, promoting
    creation of local, relatively unskilled jobs.
   Energy efficiency can stimulate economic development. Improving energy
    efficiency in buildings not only has a direct impact on local employment,
    but also on a wide range of industries and services, from construction
    supplies to engineering and architecture.

The EU‟s Energy Efficiency Action Plan pushes EU member states – including
those in the Danube basin – to achieve a 20% cut in energy use by 2020. Few
of the countries in the region are prepared for this. The greatest potential for
energy savings lies in our buildings – and within a decade, the re-cast Energy
Performance in Buildings Directive should usher in a revolution in building
construction. New buildings will be required to have essentially zero energy
consumption, with any energy used produced by the building itself (e.g.
through solar or wind). This will have far-reaching effects on economies in the
region, with significant implications for the construction industry. The Danube
Strategy can help the countries of the region prepare for this revolution, e.g.
by facilitating the exchange of know how and experience.

Clean and renewable energy sources, including wind, solar, hydro, biomass
and geothermal energies, have a key role to play in the transformation of our
energy supply. Here too, the Danube Strategy can assist in achieving the
EU‟s 20% renewables target by helping coordinate development across the
region as well as facilitating the sharing of know how, technology and
experience among countries.

Finally, the Danube Strategy also has an important and obvious role to play in
developing the necessary infrastructure for a clean energy revolution,
including particularly a smart, interconnected grid for the region. An increase
in the interconnectedness of the regional electricity market is key to the
expansion of localised energy production as well as for “smarter” control of
demand and decentralised supply. There is need for regional action not only
for developing but also managing grid infrastructure, including regulation for
transmission and distribution as well as managing grids and markets.



                                                                              9
Recommendations:
    Place clear priority on promoting energy efficiency – by far the most
     attractive energy source in terms of monetary cost (net benefit) as well as
     social and environmental costs (none!). Promote vigorous implementation
     of the EU Energy Efficiency Action Plan, including relevant legislation.
     Among these, prioritise the (re-cast) Energy Performance in Buildings
     Directive, which is not only attractive for saving energy, saving money and
     saving the climate, but also has great potential to generate green jobs.
    Promote effective implementation of the EU Climate and Energy Package,
     including especially development of clean and renewable energy sources
     that are appropriate to the region.
    Develop a basin-wide plan and guidance for renewable energy
     development with the goal of maximising benefits while minimising
     negative environmental and social impacts, e.g. due to siting and design of
     hydro-, wind- and solar power generation or cultivation of biomass.
    Take care in developing renewable energy sources in order to avoid or at
     least minimise possible negative impacts on environment. Identify,
     promote and share best practice and guidelines for development of
     hydropower, windmills, solar collectors and photovoltaics as well as
     biomass, including e.g. certification schemes for “green” energy from
     hydro.
    Promote development of a smart, regional grid that will support energy
     efficiency, promote development of clean renewable sources and reduce
     the need for reserve production.


Halt loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services

There is an all too common refrain that environment and nature protection is a
luxury that must come after economic development. Nothing could be further
from the truth. Loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services costs money – as
much as €1.1 trillion per year in lost ecosystem services, from flood
management to water provision by 2050 for Europe as a whole, if current
trends continue.11 The Danube countries cannot afford such losses, and thus
cannot afford not to take full care to maintain these goods and services.
Stopping the loss of biodiversity in the region is not only the precondition for
ensuring the provision of ecosystem goods and services today and in the
future – it also strengthens resilience of the natural system in the face of
climate change.12 Diverse landscapes with intact wetlands and forests, for
11
   (2008) The Cost of Policy Inaction: The Case of Not Meeting the 2010 Biodiversity Target
Braat L. (Alterra) and ten Brink, P. (IEEP), et al. Regarding the state of biodiversity in Europe,
see also e.g.: EEA (2009). Progress towards the European 2010 biodiversity target –
indicator fact sheets. Compendium to EEA Report No 4/2009, Rep. No. 5. European
Environment Agency, Copenhagen, Denmark.
12
   Adapting to climate change: Towards a European framework for action, http://eur-
lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=COM:2009:0147:FIN:EN:PDF; see also: EEA
(2005). Vulnerability and adaptation to climate change in Europe. European Environment
Agency, Copenhagen, Denmark.


                                                                                               10
example, can buffer the effects of changing precipitation patterns, helping to
secure water supplies and mitigate droughts and floods.
A series of international environmental policies and laws aim at halting
biodiversity loss.13 However, the key challenge is ensuring effective
implementation and integrating nature conservation into sectoral policies. The
pressure on biodiversity and ecosystems in the wider landscape is increasing
as a result of economic priorities dominating sectoral policies and lack of
coordination between conflicting interests. Current spatial planning across the
region is fragmented, uncoordinated and lacks strategic integration of
objectives of different sectors. The Danube Strategy can aim to reconcile
social and economic claims for spatial development with the area‟s ecological
and cultural assets, hence contributing to a sustainable and balanced
territorial development.

Recommendations:
    Embed an ecosystem based approach within the Danube Strategy. This
     would help to value in decision making the full range of benefits that the
     natural environment provides; ensure environmental limits are respected;
     support adaptive management to respond to changing pressures; and link
     environmental, economic and social benefits.
    Promote “green infrastructure”, putting in place – through regulatory or
     planning policy as well as support – mechanisms that safeguard and
     promote critical natural areas and ecological networks. Improve the
     structural connectivity of the Natura 2000 network for priority species and
     habitats.
    Promote and support the protection and restoration of floodplain and
     wetland areas along the Danube and its tributaries, as called for by the EU
     Water Framework Directive and the Danube River Basin Management
     Plan.
    Support effective management of protected areas, including through
     networking and capacity building among protected area administrations,
     e.g. through the existing Danube Protected Area Network and the
     Carpathian Networks of Protected Areas.
    Support species protection and restoration, particularly where this involves
     and requires broader, trans-boundary cooperation and coordination, e.g.
     related to: Danube sturgeon (securing and restoring of spawning areas;
     installing fish ladders over dams; addressing illegal trade in caviar); brown
     bears, wolves and European lynx (securing and restoring critical corridors
     and habitats; addressing conflicts with humans); illegal trade in wild plants
     and animals (implementation of Convention on Illegal Trade in
     Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, CITES, e.g. through

13   th
   6 Environmental Action Programme; EU Habitats and Birds Directives; EU Water
Framework Directive; Communication on Halting Biodiversity Loss; Danube River Basin
Management Plan; Carpathian Convention, including Biodiversity Protocol; Climate
Adaptation Action Plan



                                                                                      11
    capacity building/training for customs officials, awareness raising for
    tourists and other travelers, etc.).
   The Danube River Basin Management Plan sets forward targets for
    reducing nutrient and organic pollution of freshwater sources in the
    Danube basin. The Danube Strategy can support achievement of these
    targets by: promoting a legislative ban on phosphate containing detergents
    at European level and gain public support through information and
    awareness raising measures; and continuing investment in waste and
    sewage treatment, considering where appropriate (e.g. in small, rural
    communities) low-cost and environmentally friendly solutions such as
    reed-bed sewage treatment plants.


Promote agriculture and forestry that delivers ecosystem benefits
The region´s ecological wealth depends to a large degree on sustainable land
management, in particular traditional farming and forestry practices. These
are also critical for mitigating climate change – e.g. maintaining or enhancing
forests and meadow ecosystems as carbon “sinks” – as well as adapting to
the effects of the changing climate, by maintaining the resilience of
ecosystems and the ecosystem services that they provide. In many countries
in the Danube region in particular, agriculture and foresty also have an
important social and economic role in providing livelihoods for significant parts
of the population.
Yet rural areas in many parts of the Danube region are struggling as
traditional farming systems and rural economies collapse. Land abadonment
is a major biodiversity concern in the region.
Growing demand for food and development pressures must consequently be
managed carefully, making best use of available technology, integrated
(spatial) planning as well as innovative financing schemes that reward
farmers, land and forest owners for producing public goods and services.

Recommendations:
   Secure protection of High Conservation Value Forests (HCVF), particularly
    the greatest remaining areas of old growth and virgin forests in Europe –
    areas that are particularly valuable in terms of the biodiversity that they
    support as well as the carbon that they bind. Promote sustainable forest
    management through protection and development of Payment for
    Ecosystem Services schemes, e.g. related to forest functions such as
    water and flood management, biodiversity maintenance or carbon
    sequestration, as well as by supporting credible certification schemes.
   Promote further reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. Despite
    undergoing a series of major reforms in recent years, over 75% of the
    budget of the Common Agricultural Policy is paid to farmers (via the Single
    Farm Payment from Pillar 1 of the CAP) that is not linked to any clear
    outcome or benefit.




                                                                              12
   Secure protection and maintenance of High Nature Value Farmland
    (HNVF) through development of Payment for Ecosystem Service
    schemes, e.g. related to HNVF functions such as water and flood
    management, biodiversity maintenance or carbon sequestration. Ensure
    that support for HNV farmland is targetted specifically at farms practicing
    appropriate land management and designed to ensure the continued
    delivery of the public benefits associated with it. Promote broader rural
    development, including support for local and added value food chains,
    local products and eco-tourism. Promote HNVF food, including local and
    organic production, e.g. through credible certification schemes.
   Reduce nutrient pollution through          promotion    of   low-input    and
    environmentally friendly agriculture.
   Promote integration of environment into development and implementation
    of agricultural and forest policy, e.g. through supporting networking,
    exchance of know how and experience as well as identification of best
    practice among relevant authorities, NGOs and other actors.


Sustainable mobility
The Danube Strategy has an important role to play not only in addressing
gaps in connectivity within and between countries of the region and other
parts of Europe and the outside world, but also in ushering in the revolution in
mobility that will be needed to achieve a clean, green and prosperous society.
A fundamental shift is needed, speficially away from new roads and aviation
and into creation of low carbon infrastructure and solutions that reduce the
need to travel by car. These can include cross-border and regional railways,
public transport systems and integrated regional and local public transport
management systems. Moreover, investments in clean transport systems and
soft measures (such as intelligent transport systems, clean urban transport,
taxing, etc.) are essential to guarantee mobility, especially for socially
disadvantaged groups.
Transport programmes and projects supported by EU structural and cohesion
funding should be better integrated with land use planning to support nature
protection policy and especially Natura 2000. Territorial cohesion should
facilitate an approach where transport and environmental protection goals
should not be in contradiction.
Inland navigation certainly has a role to play in securing mobility for the region
– but not to the extent that it has been treated in discussions of the Danube
Strategy to date, where consideration of other, relatively more significant
transport modes have been marginalised by the singular focus on river
shipping.
WWF supports navigation on the Danube and other rivers alongside many
other vital uses, from drinking water to supporting biodiversity to flood
protection. Our vision of the Danube River is a lifeline where ecology and river
users/uses (including navigation) thrive hand-in-hand to provide life and
ecosystem services, as well as continue supporting the livelihoods of the
people who live in the Danube basin.


                                                                               13
We appreciate the role inland navigation plays as a contribution to the
European transport sector and recognize that it satisfies specific social and
economic needs of Danube states. Improvement of river navigation should
focus first on “softer”, relatively cheaper measures such as introduction of
Information and Communication Technology, improvements to ship
technology and port facilities. “Hard”, expensive and less reversible
investments in hydromorphological alterations to the riverbed and banks
should be avoided as much as possible. Where such alterations are not
avoidable, they should respect basic requirements formulated by WWF and
NGOs in their position paper of October 200914, including: guaranteeing and
regaining functioning ecosystem processes (amount, quality and timing of
water and sediment flows required by ecoregion specific freshwater and
estuary ecosystems and human livelihoods to sustain themselves); prove that
they meet all legal requirements, in particular the non-deterioration clause of
the EU Water Framework Directive; and do not require new dams or barrages
on waterways.15


Empower people and strengthen social infrastructure
Long-term sustainable development of the greater Danube region is
predicated on a strong basis of human and social capital – i.e. not only
developed human resources, with necessary education and skills, but also the
developed social infrastructure capable of effecting efficient decision making
and organisation. For social infrastructure, important are not only formal
institutions and trappings of democracy, but the qualities that bring these to
life, from an active civil society to political culture, values and ethics.
Unfortunately, throughout much of the greater Danube region, there is a
strong ambivalence and even distrust among local stakeholders in
governments, politicians and authorities. There are also continuing difficulties
in cooperation between authorities and civil society. At the same time, and
with some notable exceptions, civil society in some countries remains
relatively weak.
Addressing these major weaknesses should be a major priority for the
Danube Strategy, relevant not only for the content of projects and
programmes but also how they are developed and implemented (see related
section below).

Recommendations:
    Prioritise investments in social and human capital as the basis for efficient
     investments in physical capital.
    Invest in human resources, including training and capacity building.


14
   http://assets.panda.org/downloads/ngo_danube_navigation_position_final_3.pdf
15
   For more on development of inland navigation on the Danube, including threats as well as
opportunities, please see:
http://www.panda.org/what_we_do/where_we_work/black_sea_basin/danube_carpathian/our
_solutions/freshwater/sustainable_navigation/


                                                                                         14
   Invest in developing social infrastructure, e.g. through supporting “bottom-
    up”, grassroots capacity building, networking and development (see
    “Implementing the Strategy” below).
   The EU‟s LEADER programme presents one successful model for
    promoting integrated rural development, and its approach responds to
    many of the specific needs of rural areas in the Danube region.
   Promote and exchange good practice in integrating environment and
    nature conservation into sectoral issues, including support for networks
    and centres of excellence e.g. on: promotion of environmentally-friendly
    approaches to agriculture, transportation, regional development; strategic
    and environmental impact assessments; use of funds, especially from
    different EU sources, for financing nature conservation and environment.


Implementing the Strategy and Action Plan
How the Danube Strategy is implemented is every bit as important as what it
actually supports, either serving to strengthen or undermine the essential
social and natural capital in the region.
How the Danube Strategy is implemented can serve to further empower local
stakeholders; strengthen cooperation between authorities, civil society and
other societal actors; enhance essential skills and capacities; and develop
inclusive societies; or it can have the opposite effect, exacerbating apathy,
indifference and passivity among many parts of the population; increasing the
gulf between authorities, civil society and sectoral interests; and further
reinforce existing social inequalities.
The manner of implementation will also be of considerable practical
importance to the Strategy‟s success. A number of countries in the region
have major problems with “absorption” of funds, i.e. fully utilising existing EU
and related funding opportunities. Here especially, the bottleneck for
development is not the lack of resources and funding, but rather the effective
use of what already exists. A major reason for this is the lack of know how and
capacity among relevant authorities – the lack of capacity to develop, plan and
effectively implement good projects, and to do so in a manner that meets EU
norms and requirements related to public participation and environmental
assessment.
Many non-governmental organisations in the region have considerable
capacity and experience, both for developing and implementing projects. But
in a number of countries, their ability to contribute to the achievement of EU
and national objectives is very limited due to specific requirements and
administration related to EU and related funds, including restrictions on
eligibility, the use of funds (e.g. no or very limited staff or overhead costs),
requirements for pre- or co-financing, onerous accounting and reporting, long
delays in payments (that in some cases have pushed NGO beneficiaries into
bankruptcy), etc. It is important to note that many if not most of these
restrictions are imposed by national governments and not necessarily required
by the European Commission. Indeed, there are some good counter-
examples, e.g. from Poland, where national authorities have significantly


                                                                             15
opened funding programmes to participation by civil society, helping to
significantly increase effective use of funds in the country.
The EU Danube Strategy must help to address rather than exacerbate these
problems by promoting transparent, participatory processes that are open to
and empower civil society and local stakeholders.
.
Recommendations:
     Prioritise the Action Plan according to the principles of the Strategy.
     Actively promote participation of civil society, local communities and
      stakeholders in implementing the Danube Strategy. Organise consultations
      and events to enable broad access and involvement. Where relevant and
      appropriate, support their costs related to participation, including e.g. travel
      and related expenses.
     Open use of EU and other funds to broader involvement of civil society,
      local communities and stakeholders by expanding eligibility (e.g. for
      INTERREG IVC) and removing bureaucratic restrictions while retaining
      accountability for results and proper use of funds.
     Where they do not already do so, national governments should consider
      providing necessary co- and pre-financing for EU funded projects,
      increasing opportunities for NGOs, communities and other actors to
      access and productively use EU funds, for the benefit of the country and
      economy as a whole.
     Support open and unbureaucratic small-grants programmes. There are
      already existing networks of native foundations operating throughout the
      region that have extensive experience with re-granting and an excellent
      record in empowering local stakeholders and initiatives, on issues from
      environment and local and regional development to education and human
      rights. Use them, support them and strengthen them as an essential
      contribution to strengthening the social infrastructure of the region.
     There are existing networks of civil society organisations throughout the
      greater Danube region, including ones with a focus on environment,
      sustainable rural and urban development, social and other issues. Many of
      these organisations have solid track records providing effective and
      efficient contributions to the implementation of EU and national
      environmental, development and other policies, often in close partnership
      with local communities, regional authorities and other stakeholders. Use
      them, support them and strengthen them as an essential contribution to
      strengthening the social infrastructure of the region.
     For committees overseeing use of EU funding programmes: apply the 10
      Golden Rules on transparency and partnership as developed by several
      leading NGOs.16




16
     http://www.foeeurope.org/publications/2006/Golden_Rules_for_partnership.pdf


                                                                                   16
Monitoring implementation of the Danube Strategy
To ensure the good design and implementation of the Danube Strategy,
appropriate qualitative and quantitative indicators are needed. This includes
indicators on reduction potential of green house gases, favourable
conservation status of habitats and species as developed within Natura 2000,
or indicators for open and non-fragmented habitat such as the connectivity of
migration corridors.




                                                                          17
Projects and priorities:
Strengthen management of protected areas
Objectives:
Strengthen protection and management of protected areas as key instruments
for safeguarding biodiversity values and ecosystem services.

Activities:
 networking, exchange of experience, capacity building and training for
   protected area administrations, e.g. through the Danube Protected Areas
   Network or the Carpathian Network of Protected Areas;
 community involvement and awareness raising related to protected areas;
 visitor management and tourism development;
 coordinated management planning, implementation and evaluation;
 conservation interventions, including e.g. related to species protection and
   restoration.

Project partners:
Networks of protected area administrations, especially the Danube Protected
Area Network and the Carpathian Network of Protected Areas; other relevant
authorities (agencies, ministries); NGOs and other stakeholders.


Promote protection and restoration of Danube floodplain and wetlands
Objectives:
The Danube has lost 80% of its floodplains and wetlands, and with them the
most biologically productive areas as well as essential ecosystem services
from flood management to water purification. The Danube River Basin
Management Plan adopted by all Danube countries in line with the EU Water
Framework Directive places major emphasis on protection and restoration of
Danube floodplains and wetlands. There is realistic potential (in terms of
relative costs and other factors) for restoration of up to 600,000 ha of Danube
floodplains and wetlands.

Activities:
    Identification of floodplain and wetland areas for protection and/or
        restoration
    Awareness raising on values of intact floodplains and wetlands
    Preparation of actions for protection and/or restoration, including e.g.
        feasibility studies.
    Implementation of actions for protection and/or restoration of floodplain
        and wetland areas, including e.g. removal of dikes and other barriers.

Project partners:
Relevant authorities (environment, water management); NGOs and other
stakeholders.

Related initiatives or possible sub-components:




                                                                             18
Completing the Lower Danube Green Corridor
Objective:
To support Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova and Ukraine in realising the Lower
Danube Green Corridor, Europe‟s most ambitious wetland protection and
restoration project. The agreement by the four governments calls for the
protection of nearly 1 million ha and restoration of 224,000 ha of wetland
areas on the last 1,000 km of the Danube before it spills into the Black Sea.
Activities:
 Support for protected area management, including capacity building,
   management planning, public awareness raising and promotion.
 Preparation and implementation of wetland restoration, including feasibility
   studies, consultations with local stakeholders as well as relevant measures
   to reconnect floodplains to the river system, e.g. removal of dikes.
 Support for related local development activities, including development of
   tourism and local products.
Partners:
Relevant authorities of Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova and Ukraine
(environment, agriculture, water); NGOs and other stakeholders.


Danube-Drava-Mura Biosphere Reserve
Objective:
Support realisation of the Danube-Drava-Mura Biosphere Reserve. In 2009
the governments of Croatia and Hungary agreed to establish Europe‟s largest
trans-boundary riverine protected area on the Drava River, totaling over
600,000 ha of some of Europe‟s most valuable remaining wetland areas,
“Europe‟s Amazon”. The agreement opens the way to establishing an even
greater area by extension up and down the Drava to the Mura in Slovenia and
Austria and the confluence with the Danube in Serbia.

Activities:
 Support for protected area management, including capacity building,
   management planning, public awareness raising and promotion.
 Support for related local development activities, including development of
   tourism and local products.

Partners:
Relevant authorities of Croatia, Hungary, Serbia, Slovenia, Austria
(environment/nature protection, water, agriculture, rural development); NGOs
(e.g. organised in the trans-national Drava League) and other stakeholders.


Reduce nutrient emissions of the farming sector
Objective:
Reduce emissions of nutrient waste (especially nitrogen and phosphorus from
agricultural fertilizers) to the Danube river system and the Black Sea. Nutrient
waste is a major challenge for water quality and health of ecosystems in the
river and the sea, and a major priority under the Danube River Basin
Management Plan that had been adopted by all Danube countries.



                                                                             19
Activities:
 Promotion of good farming practice
 Investments, e.g. in manure storage,

Partners:
Relevant authorities (environment, agriculture), farmer associations, NGOs
and other stakeholders


Promote and implement phasing out of phosphates containing
detergents
Objective:
Gain support from decision makers, industry and consumers for phasing out
phosphates in detergents

Activities:
    Inform decision makers about the benefits of phasing out phosphates in
        detergents and an EU-wide solution
    Once in place, communicate and implement EU legislation on national
        levels
    Support regional detergent industry to switch to phosphates-free
        production lines

Partners:
DG Interprise, EP, detergent industry, Ministries for Enviroment, consumer
associations


Secure ecological networks and corridors
Objective:
Identify and secure critical ecological networks and corridors

Activities:
 Identify and plan critical ecological networks and corridors (scientific
   research, consultations with relevant communities and stakeholders);
 Investments in securing or restoring ecological networks and corridors,
   e.g. afforestation, construction of eco-bridges and eco-ducts to make
   transportation and other infrastructure passable, etc.

Partners:
Relevant national, regional and local authorities; NGOs and other
stakeholders.


Promoting ecosystem based Climate Change Adaptation
Objective:
Support development and implementation of basin-wide approaches to
climate change adaptation, e.g. within the framework the ICPDR and
according to the EU White Paper.



                                                                             20
Activities:
 develop a Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment for the Danube basin
 Develop coordinated action plans at regional and national levels for
   climate change adaptation
 Implement pilot projects

Partners:
Relevant national and regional authorities; international organisations (e.g.
ICPDR, Carpathian Convention); NGOs and other stakeholders.


Danube Sturgeon
Objective:
Stabilise populations of Danube sturgeon, which have been experiencing a
steady decline and are now facing extinction. Sturgeon conservation is a
priority in the Danube River Basin Management Plan that has been adopted
by all Danube countries.

Activities:
 Restore migration corridors and extend habitats, particularly by developing
   fish ladders or other forms of bypass over the Iron Gates Dam, which
   would effectively double the range of the Danube Sturgeon;
 Identify, protect and possibly restore critical spawning habitats for sturgeon
   on the Danube;
 Address illegal fishing of sturgeon and trade in caviar, e.g. by
   strengthening capacity of enforcement agencies and customs officials
 Monitor and map sturgeon populations.


Bears and other large carnivores
Objective:
Secure populations of European bears and other large carnivores as priority
European species and flagship species with relevance for broader
conservation aims.

Activities:
 Trans-national scientific research
 Awareness raising and education for public and selected groups, e.g.
   tourists, farmers and shepherds, etc.
 Actions to identify and secure key habitats and ecological corridors for
   large carnivores, e.g. through smart development planning or
   compensation measures such as eco-bridges for transportation
   infrastructure.
 Steps to address human-large carnivore conflicts (e.g. investments in
   bear-proof waste containers, electric fencing for shepherds, etc.).

Partners:
Relevant national, regional and local authorities; NGOs; scientific institutes;
other stakeholders.



                                                                                  21
Promoting environmental integration
Objective:
Promote – in line with the Lisbon Treaty and related EU legislation –
integration of environment in implementation of EU rural and regional
development funding programmes.

Activities:
 Identification of best practice in integrating environment in sectoral
   decision making;
 Networking and exchange of experience between relevant authorities and
   interest groups related to environmental integration;
 Awareness raising and education for relevant authorities and interest
   groups.

Partners:
Relevant national, regional and local authorities responsible for management
of EU and related national funds and sectoral planning and decision making
(e.g. agriculture, transportation, regional development, tourism); regional
development agencies; NGOs and other stakeholders.


Promoting energy efficiency in buildings
Objective:
Promote energy conservation in buildings, including preparation
for/implementation of relevant EU legislation. Responsible for ca 40% of total
energy consumption, buildings present the greatest potential for energy
conservation. According to the EU Energy Performance in Buildings Directive,
within the next decade all new buildings will need to be energy efficient, with
near-zero energy consumption – with any energy used generated by
renewables such as wind or solar. Most of the countries of the Danube region
have scarcely begun preparing to meet this major challenge and opportunity,
which will not only lead to huge savings in energy as well as costs, but also
have far-reaching implications from architecture to construction and related
materials.

Activities:
 Training and capacity building, exchange of best practice, e.g. for relevant
   authorities, architects and developers, construction workers, commercial
   suppliers of construction materials, etc.
 Networking among relevant actors, including e.g. green building councils,
   relevant authorities.
 Public awareness raising on energy efficiency in buildings.
 Development of best practice examples.

Partners:
Relevant authorities and agencies; business and interest group associations,
e.g. Green Building Councils in Romania, Hungary, Czech Republic;
municipalities, associations of towns and cities (e.g. Ukrainian network of


                                                                             22
Energy Efficient Cities; Austrian KlimaBundnis); NGOs and other
stakeholders.


Micro-credits for green business and rural development
Objective:
Encourage entrepreneurship and development of SME‟s in rural areas –
empower local stakeholders and foster vibrant communities, while
encouraging future-oriented businesses.

Activities:
 Technical assistance, including e.g. training in identifying opportunities for
   “green business”, business development and planning;
 Micro-credit schemes, e.g. in cooperation with commercial lending
   institution

Partners:
Relevant authorities, regional and local development associations/agencies,
NGOs focused on rural development.


Small grants programmes for NGOs and local communities
Objective:
Empower civil society and local communities to actively contribute “from the
bottom up” to achieving objectives of the Danube Strategy.

Activities:
Provide – e.g. through independent re-granting foundations that already exist
in the region – unbureaucratic small grants (e.g. €5,000-€50,0000/grant) to
NGOs and local communities for projects related to environment, local
development and social issues.

Partners:
Existing foundations throughout the Danube region that have extensive
experience with re-granting for NGOs and communities (can be selected on
the basis of a tender).




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