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SWP5.3 | Interdisciplinary dialogue on sustainable waterway development


Since the adoption of the European Water Framework Directive in 2000, all European waters are being managed by way of a river basin approach: Commissions responsible for the protection of the Rhine, the Danube and the Sava are responsible for coordinating actions in this framework. This responsibility and the accompanying requirements will be realised through the creation of so-called River Basin Management Plans (RBM). The ICPDR teamed up with the Danube Commission and the International Sava River Basin Commission to initiate an intense cross-sectoral discussion process, which has lead in 2007 to a “Joint Statement on Guiding Principles for the Development of Inland Navigation and Environmental Protection in the Danube River Basin”. This process resulted in general planning guidelines and criteria taking into account both ecological and navigation interests.


The objective of this Sub-Work Package is to increase awareness and planning competence ensuring the proper integration of environmental aspects in the development and maintenance of inland waterway infrastructure, in line with the Joint Statement. PLATINA will contribute to this overall objective by:

  • providing technical guidelines regarding sustainable waterway development and
  • raising awareness and know-how among inland waterway planners and policy makers about environmentally friendly waterway development practices.

Description of work

The issue of hydro-morphological alterations to rivers is one of the main ecological pressures resulting from navigation. Scientific assessments is carried out and issue papers will be drafted on this specific topic. The assessment takes a case-study approach to survey and evaluate and to discuss future pressures from inland navigation in combination with other pressures (i.e. hydropower) on hydro-morphology along the Upper, Middle and Lower Danube.

The Joint Statement summarises the principles and criteria for environmentally sustainable inland navigation on the Danube and its tributaries, including the maintenance of existing waterways and the development of future waterway infrastructure. These planning guidelines have been concluded at the end of 2007.
In order for the planning guidelines and the Programme of Measures to be implemented, they have to be translated into practical examples. Best practices demonstrating how the general planning guidelines can be turned into reality should be collected in a best practice manual on sustainable waterway planning in cooperation with other river basins. Such a manual can serve as a work of reference for inland waterway planning authorities and relevant stakeholders.

Extensive international exchange of experiences in the field of infrastructure development contributes to the dissemination of know-how and the improvement of individual projects. Training workshops for inland waterway planning officials and multi-stakeholder workshops on a local or regional level are organised. The ICPDR further actively contacts stakeholders and encourages their participation in the relevant expert bodies. The contribution of this task consists in the preparation of the technical programme and training contents and the carrying out of training workshops.

Achievements January-May 2011

Two versions of the so called Good Practice Manual on Sustainable Waterway Planning have been drafted. The first (Manual structure) was discussed in the PLATINA training workshop in Zagreb (9-10 June 2009). Based on this workshop a second draft was presented and discussed in the 2nd workshop in Rousse (15-16 September 2009) where its structure and contents were agreed. Based on this workshop and various written comments, a third version had been drafted in a new design by ICPDR with input from VIA, BOKU and INE. This was circulated for comments in March 2010 to a number of expert institutions and stakeholders (national governments, European Commission, ISRBC, BfG, PIANC, WWF, IAD and others).

The publication of the manual included printed, CD and online versions. The manual is also fed into the activities of the EC Working Group on Rivers activities (integrated planning of EU waterways).

Based on an overview about good practises in IWT planning and engineering the technical programme for the multi-stakeholder workshops was established. Workshop I was held in Zagreb on 9 and 10 June (local case: Sava), hosting 44 participants. Workshop II was held on 15 and 16 September 2009 in Rousse with 42 participants. Workshop III will be held in 2011.

Sub-Work Package leader biography

Alexander Zinke is the new ICPDR Project Manager for Navigation. He studied biogeography in his hometown Saarbruecken/Germany and in Vancouver/Canada before joining in 1996 the WWF Institute for Floodplain Ecology in Rastatt/Germany. In 1989 he moved to Vienna to join WWF Austria where he built up their nature protection programme in Central and Eastern Europe. Since 1998, Zinke works as an independent management consultant with a focus on integrated water and nature management in the Danube and Balkan region. Through various multi-disciplinary projects on water-related policies and practical management he gained wide experience in how to achieve nature-friendly river uses.

3 questions to Alexander Zinke

  • What do you like most about your work?
    It is inspiring to work in international teams and across sectoral and political borders to ensure a more sustainable use of natural resources.
  • If you could have one wish for inland navigation, what would it be?
    Inland navigation has good prospects if it integrates nature protection needs into its area of responsibility.
  • What does PLATINA do for you?
    PLATINA connects me to a new group of river users with which it was not so easy to have contact.