Supporting a Greener Danube
Since Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007, the Danube – the world’s most international river basin – has largely become an EU space. The Danube has a vital importance, as it can open EU to its near neighbors, the Black Sea region, the South Caucasus and Central Asia. The recent EU Strategy for the Danube Region contributes to EU objectives, reinforcing major European policy initiatives, especially the Europe 2020 strategy.
Geographically, the Strategy involves 14 countries in total, though not all in their entirety. Eight – Germany, Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Romania – are EU member states. The other six are Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Ukraine and Moldova. The area covered has a population of 115 million people.
In order to address some of the region’s challenges, GE recently met with the representatives of the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR) to pursue a common goal of identifying priorities, agreeing on required steps and implementing the actions, especially on water and waste water treatment. GE has the capability to help address these challenges through its cutting-edge green technology, contributing to a better alignment of policies and improving impact on the ground.
“Now the Danube countries have an opportunity to create a common vision and improve mobility, biodiversity, energy efficiency, water quality, education, research and innovation. It is our duty to make sure this vision translates into a sustainable future for Romania and Bulgaria as well, positively impacting the vital infrastructure domains and ensuring long-term performance based on the latest technology. Our meeting with the ICPDR representatives was a small step towards a fruitful and successful collaboration meant to link programs in a smart way, so that certain projects become powerful engines for the sustainable development of these countries. GE has a long track record of successful stories to share and the technologies from the GE portfolio can help in this attempt”, stated Cristian Colteanu, GE President & CEO for Romania, Bulgaria and Moldova.
According to the most recent EU reports, water scarcity occurred in much of Southern Europe in 2009 and 2010 – due to limited water resources, high demand for water and less rain. The Czech Republic, Cyprus and Malta reported that they faced continuous water scarcity. Five Member States reported droughts or rainfall levels lower than the long term average (France, Hungary, the UK, Portugal and Spain) and four experienced local limited water scarcity occurrences (the Netherlands, Sweden, France and Romania). Also, most European regions are expected to be under medium or severe water stress by 2050 – mainly due to unsustainable water use, exacerbated by the effects of climate change.
The Danube Strategy will hopefully connect people and cultures around a green agenda, while ensuring the progress of the region. Through productive cooperation and collaboration, the one hundred million euros will have the potential to transform the Danube region into the showcase of a modern, prosperous and green society that develops together and protects its enormous natural capital.
GE will contribute to this vision and continue to work towards developing solutions to the water challenge, one of our key focus areas for investment. It is obvious that water is our most precious asset in building a sustainable future for our modern societies and life itself.