27 June 2008
The Danube Rivers: Let's Use Them - Not Abuse Them
International Danube Day, 29 June 2008
VIENNA, 27 June (UN Information Service) - The ecological sustainable use of water resources for the long-term benefit of people, businesses, industries, and entire communities is the focus of the 5th annual Danube Day on 29 June.
The event, to be celebrated by people in all 14 major countries through which the Danube itself and its tributaries pass, will emphasise the connection between the countries and the shared water conservation interests of all inhabitants. The theme for 2008 is "The Danube Rivers: Let's Use Them - Not Abuse Them".
Danube Day is coordinated by the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR). Numerous governmental and non-governmental institutions throughout the Danube River Basin will present education and entertainment programmes that includes awareness-raising festivities, river clean-ups, competitions, workshops, conferences and special youth events.
Danube Day is also supported through the Green Danube Partnership which was formed by Coca-Cola Hellenic, The Coca-Cola Company and the ICPDR in 2005. In June, the Green Danube Partnership opened the opportunity for more companies for financing and participating in the ICPDR's water protection efforts by launching the Business Friends of the Danube.
"Since the beginning of mankind we have been using the resources of the Danube River Basin for our nutrition, as a mode of transport, to produce electricity - and much more", said Philip Weller, Executive Secretary of the ICPDR. "But now more than ever we are conscious of the limitation of natural resources. To ensure the Danube continues as the European Lifeline for future generations we need to take actions to protect it and to reduce water pollution."
Sir Michael Llewellyn-Smith, Board Director of Coca-Cola Hellenic, and Chairman of its Corporate Social Responsibility Committee, said: "In order to preserve water resources for current needs, and tomorrow's, it is vital that members of the business community play a role. We invite other companies to join us in placing water protection at the top of their agenda in order to ensure sustainable development in the communities we serve."
Danube Day commemorates the anniversary of the signing of the Danube River Protection Convention in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 1994, and has grown each year to become the largest river festival in the world.
This year, many thousands of people are expected to participate in activities. Highlights include the simultaneous blowing of river boat horns along the entire length of the Danube at precisely 2 p.m. CEST, as well as the continuation of the popular Danube Art Master school competition which, in 2007, attracted 4,000 students whose water-themed artworks were displayed along the river banks.
Celebrations are extended beyond Danube countries. The Global Water Partnership for Central and Eastern Europe has invited representatives from the Danube countries attending the World EXPO 2008 in Zaragoza in Spain, which focuses on water and sustainable development, to mark the occasion by joining together in dancing the Blue Danube Waltz.
The ICPDR (International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River) is an international organization consisting of 13 cooperating states and the European Union. Since its establishment in 1998, it has grown into one of the largest and most active international bodies engaged in river basin management in Europe. Its activities relate not only to the Danube River, but also the tributaries and ground water resources of the entire Danube River Basin.
The ultimate goal of the ICPDR is to implement the Danube River Protection Convention, and make it a "living" instrument. Its mission is to promote and coordinate sustainable and equitable water management, including conservation, and improvement and rational use of waters for the benefit of the Danube River Basin countries and their people. The ICPDR pursues its mission by making recommendations for the improvement of water quality, developing mechanisms for flood and accident control, agreeing on standards for emissions and by assuring that these measures are reflected in the Contracting Parties' national legislations and are applied in their policies.
Danube Day is an international day honouring the Danube and the rivers that flow into it, paying tribute to the vital role they play in providing water, food, power, recreation and livelihood. Held on 29 June, Danube Day marks the anniversary of the signing of the Danube River Protection Convention in Sofia, Bulgaria, on 29 June 1994.
Danube Day raises awareness about the Danube Rivers through huge festivals on the riverbanks plus public meetings, educational events. Moreover, it is paying tribute to the Danube Rivers, the people, and the progress that has been made.
Danube Day demonstrates the need for countries and organizations to join forces and work together. Celebrating Danube Day helps to ensure that the Danube and its tributaries are protected, to be used and enjoyed by generations to come.
More information about Danube Day events in each of the 14 countries, visit: www.danubeday.org
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