Future of Danube Delta: hope, but also concern

BUCURESTI - 1 martie 2006

Comunicat tip General in Politic

Vienna/Odessa – WWF, the global conservation organisation, welcomes the results of the international summit to discuss the future of the Danube Delta that was organised February 27-28 in Odessa, but remains concerned by indications from Ukrainian officials that construction of the controversial Bystroye Canal would continue regardless of the meeting.

In a final declaration, the Governments of Ukraine, Romania and Moldova pledged among other things to cooperate on management of the area as well as work toward establishment of a tri-lateral biosphere reserve.

However, the conference was overshadowed by the February 22 announcement of the Ukrainian Minister of Transport and Communications Viktor Bondar that 17.8 million USD had been allocated in the 2006 national budget for completing Phase 1 of the controversial Bystroye Canal through the core zone of the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve, a wetland area of global importance that provides important socioeconomic benefits for the local people. In the official press conference following the summit, Ukrainian officials indicated that construction of the Bystroye Canal would go ahead regardless of the meeting.

The Bystroye Canal has been strongly criticized by WWF and other organisations, including the EU, and has been the source of a major foreign policy row with Romania.

“The case of the Bystroye Canal underlines the need for a shared, trans-boundary vision for the sustainable development of the Danube Delta, including inland navigation and infrastructure planning, which can drive development toward win-win solutions that yield both socioeconomic as well as environmental benefits, for the Ukrainian as well as for the Romanian and the Moldovan parts of the Delta” said Michael Baltzer, Director of the WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme.

Navigation through the Danube Delta will clearly increase in future, but the question is whether this development will take place within the limits of the natural system and preserving the area’s exceptional values and resources. Innovative technologies exist for ships, infrastructure and logistics which make it possible to increase transportation capacities while limiting damage to nature and local communities.

Tourism also presents a significant threat but also an opportunity for the future of people and nature in the Danube Delta, which is internationally known for its abundant nature. By developing a cross-border tourism strategy and infrastructure, and marketing a tri-national destination, a sustainable tourism industry can be created which depends on and profits from a healthy environment and the natural and cultural uniqueness of the region.

WWF has been working in the Danube Delta for more than 13 years to promote conservation, restoration and sustainable management of nature for the benefit of both people and the environment. A Vision for the Ukrainian Danube Delta, which was completed in 2003 with involvement of authorities and stakeholders from the Odessa Oblast in Ukraine as well as WWF, presents an ambitious and inspiring plan for a desirable future for the Ukrainian part of the Delta.

Despre BT Public Relations

Notes to editors
•The Conference for the Sustainable Development of the Danube Delta was organised by the Governments of Ukraine, Romania and Moldova; UNESCO; the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River Basin (ICPDR); the Ramsar Wetlands Convention; the Council of Europe; and WWF, the global conservation organisation.
•The NGO Statement that was released following a meeting of non-governmental organisations from the three countries on February 26 is available for downloading at www.panda.org/dcpo
•The Danube Delta is one of the world’s most valuable wetland areas, home to a rich diversity of flora and fauna, including the globally threatened Dalmatian pelican and several species of sturgeon. The area has been identified by WWF as one of the 200 most valuable ecological regions on Earth.

Geo Scripcariu
Communications Officer
WWF International
Danube Carpathian Programme
Mobil: 0745-09.61.91
Tel: 335 25 74
Fax: 335 65 05


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