International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River
The International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR) is an international organisation with its permanent secretariat in Vienna. It was established by the Danube River Protection Convention, signed by the Danube countries in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 1994.
The commission became active in 1998. Since then, it has grown into one of the largest and most active international bodies of river basin management expertise in Europe. The commission deals not only with the Danube itself, but also with the whole Danube River Basin, which includes more than 300 tributaries and the ground water resources.
The ICPDR’s legal basis is the “Convention on Cooperation for the Protection and Sustainable use of the Danube River (Danube River Protection Convention)”, generally referred to as the “Danube River Protection Convention” or “DRPC”. It commits the contracting parties to join their efforts in sustainable water management, including conservation of surface and ground water, pollution reduction, and the prevention and control of floods, accidents and ice hazards. The convention was signed in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 1994 and came into force in October 1998.
The ICPDR was created to implement the Danube River Protection Convention (DRPC). It is both a forum to allow its contracting parties to coordinate the implementation of the convention and a platform to review the progress they make. The key objectives of the ICPDR include the following:
- Ensure sustainable water management
- Ensure conservation, improvement and rational use of surface waters and ground water
- Control pollution and reduce inputs of nutrients and hazardous substances
- Control floods and ice hazards.
The ICPDR also facilitates cooperation between the Danube countries and the Black Sea region in issues requiring coordination, cooperates with other international organisations where appropriate, and addresses new challenges related to water management as they emerge.
When the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD, formally Directive 2000/60/EC) was adopted in October 2000, all countries cooperating under the DRPC (which includes at present 9 EU and 5 non EU member states) decided to make all efforts to implement the Directive throughout the whole basin. The Non EU Member States also committed themselves to implement the WFD within the frame of the DRPC. In addition, the ICPDR serves as a coordination platform for the basin-wide implementation of the EU Floods directive (EFD, formally Directive 2007/60/EC).
Structure and decision making
The ICPDR is an international organisation. It meets twice a year: The Ordinary Meeting is held in Vienna in December, another meeting of Heads of Delegations is held in June in the country of the Presidency. The meetings consist of delegations of contracting parties and observer organisations. Every contracting party has one Head of Delegation representing the country. For all decisions the achievement of consensus is sought. The meetings are chaired by the ICPDR President; ICPDR Presidency is passed on from one country to another in an alphabetical order every year.
In addition, much of the work of the ICPDR is done by Expert Groups (EGs), which are panels of specialists from the ICPDR contracting parties and observers – usually civil servants of the relevant ministries, in some cases employees of NGOs or contracted agencies. There are seven permanent Expert Groups and one ad hoc Expert Group as of 2011:
- Pressures and Measures
- Monitoring and Assessment
- Flood Protection
- River Basin Management
- Information Management and GIS
- Public Participation and Communication
- Accident Prevention and Control
- Strategic Expert Group (ad hoc)
The expert groups all have Terms of Reference and mandates adopted by the Commission. They usually meet twice to three times a year. Time- and target-limited task groups may also be established for specific tasks which not necessarily all countries are represented in. The expert groups discuss issues related to their Terms of Reference and prepare reports and recommendations for coordinated action.
The ICPDR has a Permanent Secretariat to support its work, supervised by an Executive Secretary, as of 2013, Ivan Zavadsky. The secretariat has its headquarters in Vienna, from where it administers, manages and supports the work of the ICPDR. The total staff of the secretariat is 8 permanent staff members and additional short-term project staff. If all national experts, delegates from observers and consultants are considered, there are more than 300 people working with and for the ICPDR.
The ICPDR serves as a platform for co-operation and coordination. The signing of the convention however, commits the countries under international law to some specific actions and to uphold certain principles. In some past conflicts, the ICPDR could contribute to accommodating the harmonisation of efforts by providing a place for discussion. The President or the staff at the secretariat can induce talks on specific issues and contribute to building consensus. The convention provides a dispute settlement mechanism, but in practice this has not been needed so far, as the countries concerned have worked to ensure dialogue and developed consensus on issues of conflict.
The ICPDR has fifteen contracting parties:
The ICPDR has 22 official observers with rights to attend meetings and participate in decision-making:
- Black Sea Commission
- Carpathian Convention
- Central Dredging Association
- Danube Environmental Forum
- Danube Commission
- Danube Parks
- Danube Tourist Commission
- European Anglers Alliance
- European Barge Union
- European Water Association
- Friends of Nature International
- Global Water Partnership
- International Association for Danube Research
- International Association of Water Supply Companies in the Danube River Catchment Area
- International Hydrological Programme
- International Sava River Basin Commission
- Ramsar Convention on Wetlands
- Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe
- VGB PowerTech
- via donau
- World Wide Fund for Nature — Danube-Carpathian Programme
- Danube Competence Center
The ICPDR budget comes from the contributions of the Contracting Parties. According to the Danube River Protection Convention, the Contracting Parties (except for the EU) shall contribute an equal share, unless unanimously decided otherwise by the ICPDR. Some exceptions are currently applied for a transitional period. The total annual budget of the ICPDR is a little more than one million Euros. Much of the ICPDR’s work is done directly by Member Countries. Such contributions in staff and material are therefore also considerable, even though this does not show in the ICPDR budget. Costs of participation in the Commission’s and Expert bodies’ work are also covered by the parties themselves.
In some cases, the ICPDR engages in projects that have separate sources of funding. These include projects funded by the European Union, the United Nations Development Program, GEF, individual member countries or private businesses through the public-private partnership “Business Friends of the Danube”.
Danube River variety
The place where Breg and Brigach unite to form the Danube in Donaueschingen.
The Vienna International Centre, home of the ICPDR's permanent secretariat
The Danube in Budapest
Pelicans in the Danube Delta, Romania
- Internationalization of the Danube River, for events from earliest times to the Treaty of Paris in 1856
- Commissions of the Danube River, for the international body governing the waterway from 1856 to 1940
- Danube River Conference of 1948
- Danube Commission, for the international agency charged with transportation oversight of the river