Danube Day - Partnering to protect the lifeline of Europe

Every year, on June 29th, the countries along the river basin celebrate and honor the Danube and its essential ecosystem with Danube Day.

One area where water plays an essential role in the safety and wellbeing of our communities, is the Danube River, Europe’s second longest river, the most international river basin in the world. Approximately 83 million people live in the Danube basin and more than 20 million depend directly on the Danube for their drinking water.

Linking 10 countries along 2,857 km of the river, the Danube sustains countless human and natural habitats, providing flood protection, drinking water and recreation. No wonder it is considered by many to be the lifeline of Europe.

It is estimated that 80 percent of the floodplains and wetlands along the river have disappeared over the past 150 years, and with them, significant populations of fish and other ecosystem goods and services, that are especially important to strengthen the resilience of people and nature, in the face of climate change.

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The Living Danube Partnership, is a unique cross sectoral partnership, started in 2014 and has brought together WWF-CEE, The Coca-Cola Foundation and the International Commission for the Protection of Danube River (ICPDR), to promote the conservation and restoration of vital wetlands and floodplains, with the financial support of The Coca- Cola Foundation.

Since 2014, the partnership has supported more than nine restoration projects across six countries (Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Serbia and Romania), through different restoration projects.

To achieve our goals in the Danube region, we’ve been working with local authorities, stakeholders, municipalities and landowners to connect river stretches or floodplains to the river system by opening dams, installing or modernising sluices for water retention, creating mosaic of habitats and improving water supply channels.

At the same time, we’ve been helping create a regional movement/collaboration for wetland conservation and restoration, while promoting good water stewardship.

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The Living Danube Partnership with EU support by 2021, created approximately 13.45 million m3 replenisment potential, and restored over 5,462 hectares of vital wetlands, rivers and floodplains.

The program received the 2020 Partnership of the Year Award, in the Reuters Responsible Business Awards 2021.

The program is currently focusing on river and wetland restoration, awareness and engagement, water stewardship and advocacy, while is demonstrating climate resilience and nature-based solutions, across Slovakia, Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria.

Through partnerships like these, we are better equipped to safeguard the supply of water in the Danube basin, stop and reverse the decline in biodiversity and tackle climate change.