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We tremendously enjoyed working with the International Commission on the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR) in Vienna on an early-stage stakeholder scouting and visioning exercise. A productive process with Birgit Vogel, Executive Secretary and Ivan Zavadsky, former Executive Secretary, inter alia. Their vision: A healthier, safer, cleaner Danube. Did you know that the entire Danube River basin comprises 19 countries, making it the most international river basin in the world? 

The International Commission for the Protection of the Danube (ICPDR)  

  •      assesses the state of surface and ground waters in the Danube River Basin;
  •      develops actions to conserve or improve these waters;
  •      collects information on the implementation and progress of theseactions; and
  •      supports individual contracting parties or other relevant entities in the implementation efforts of these actions.

The goals of the ICPDR are 

  •      a Cleaner Danube – this means reducing pollution from settlements, industry and agriculture;
  •      a Healthier Danube – this means protecting rivers as ecosystems that provide a living environment for aquatic animals and plants, as well as services for people such as drinking water and recreation;
  •      a Safer Danube – this means a safer environment for people to live without the fear of major flood damage.

The key challenges: 
The ICPDR addresses the entire Danube River basin, comprising 19 countries, making it the most international river basin in the world. Including more than 300 tributaries and connected groundwater resources too, this makes the ICPDR one of the largest and most active international river basin management commissions in the world. Because of a requirement for at least 2,000 km² of national territory to be located within the Danube River Basin, only fourteen of these countries – and the European Union – are full contracting parties to the ICPDR.

The river basin covers 817,000 square kilometers and 83 million people live in its catchment area. Some 20 million people rely on the Danube for drinking water. The Danube passes through numerous large cities – including four national capitals, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest and Belgrade. By the 1980s water quality was a serious issue due to the pollution originating from millions of individuals, agriculture and industry. The river is also critical for the generation of hydropower, navigation, agriculture, recreation and the natural environment. Currently just 24.7% of the Danube’s water bodies are considered to have good ecological status.

Of the many challenges faced by the ICPDR, the most highest priority remain:

  •      Organic substance pollution
  •      Nutrient pollution
  •      Hazardous substance pollution
  •      Hydromorphological alterations
  •      Flood risk management