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Danube – Crossborder-border planning and management


The management of protected areas, including Natura 2000 sites, along the Danube is done by each riparian country largely apart from neighboring countries. This is, in particular, the case along the stretch of the Danube that consitutes a joint border between Bulgaria and Romania. There is no contact between relevant stakeholders, including stakeholders in public sector and civil society, on management of the Danube. The reasons for this situation are several, but it is clear that there have been little contact historically, and the main reason for this may be that the two languages are mutually incomprehensible, and that neither country place emphasis on bilingual education in the other language. The problems that this lack of contact and sharing of riparian knowledge and management practices is becoming more and more acute.

There are at least three main aspects to the present inertia in international communication between the two countries. These points to underlying causes as well as show the direction in which to search for remedies and solutions. They are:

  1. There is, with the exception of some EU-funded initiatives, little collaboration between the two countries on management of the Danube (transboundary issues).
  2. In either country there is little or no collaboration between the public sector and civil society on management of the Danube.
  3. In terms of disciplines, management of the Danube is located in engineering and the natural sciences, and there is no involvement of the social sciences.

Towards this, in September 2008 I traveled to Ruse (or Rousse), a Bulgarian city along the Danube, to talk with local stakeholders and discuss the possibility of organizing a workshop for stakeholders to discuss these issues.

Network activities in 2008

I met and discussed the ideas for collaboration across the Danube and setting up a network to achieve this with a number of persons, including:

  1. Milko Belberov – Director, Directorate of Nature Park ‘Rusenski Lom’  [belberov(a);]
  2. Dragomir Damjanov – Mayor, Dve Mogili Municipality, Ruse District  [Dve Mogili, Bulgaria; dvemogili(a)]
  3. Alexsander Dimitrov – Chief Specialist, European Integration Dept., Ruse Municipality, Ruse District  [a.dimitrov(a);]
  4. Dimiter Dimitrov Dontschev – Secretary, Ivanovo Municipality, Ruse District  [Ivanovo, Ruse District; bulobshtina(a);]
  5. Ivan Hristov – Freshwater Programme Coordinator, WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme Bulgaria  [Sofia; ihristov(a);]
  6. Yuzluam Kamberova – Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works  [Sofia; ozi_k(a);]
  7. Teodora Kopcheva – Rusenski Lom Public Park Friends Club & Directorate of Nature Park ‘Ruse Lom’  [info(a);]
  8. Rumen Markov – Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works  [Sofia; rum_mark(a);]
  9. Tania Mihailova – Project Manager, Gallup International  [Sofia; t.mihailova(a);]
  10. Todor Petrov – Chairman, Ecolinks-GSUPROOS  [t.petrov(a);]
  11. Tanyo Tanev – Head, Regional Forestry Board Ruse  [rugruse(a);]
  12. Violeta Vasileva – Head, Ecology Dept., Ruse Municipality, Ruse District  [v.vasileva(a);]
  13. Daniela Yaneva – Program Coordinator, Open Society Club Rousse  [danny(a);]
  14. Michaela Zdravkova – Program Coordinator, Open Society Club Rousse  [michaela(a);]

The workshop took place in Ruse on 17 September 2008. The Directorate of Nature Park ‘Ruse Lom’ very kindly agreed to host it. Several of the persons listed above participated (the sign-up sheet is here).

While in Ruse and the surrounding region I met with some other persons that may be useful to liaison with, among them:

  1. Mariya Dimova – Governor, Ruse Regional Government  [dialogs(a)]
  2. Elitza Petkova – Senior Expert, Ruse Regional Government  [governor(a)]

Output in 2008

The workshop participants agreed to establish a network of all relevant stakeholders in Bulgaria and Romania, and to name this new network the “Danube Capacity-Building Network”, or “DCB Net”. Furthermore, the workshop agreed on a text that amounts to a mission statement. The text was prepared in English and translated into Bulgarian and Romanian. The three language versions of the mission statement are available below, together with some links.

Mission statement (English)
This network consists of public sector, private sector and civil society stakeholders in Bulgaria and Romania that work on the Danube, and/or are interested in its management. In addition to the shared part of the Danube, the downstream part including the delta is also included. The network focuses on comprehensive and integrated approaches to training and capacity building, aimed at sustainable management of the Danube.

Mission statement (Bulgarian)
Тази мрежа се състои от представители на обществения сектор, частния сектор и гражданското общество в България и Румьния, които работят по крайбрежието на река Дунав и/или са заинтересовани за нейното правилно използване. В допълнение към тази съместна част от Дунав ще бъде вкдючено и поречието на реката и делтата. Мрежата се концентрира върху подробен и интегриран подход за обучение и изграждане на капацитет с цел устойчиво управление на река Дунав.

Mission statement (Romanian)
Această rețea constă din sectorul public, sectorul privat și societatea civilă, părți interesate din Bulgaria și România, care funcționează pe Dunăre, și / sau sunt interesate în gestionarea acesteia. În plus față de părțile comune ale Dunării, o parte în aval, inclusiv delta este, de asemenea, inclusă. Rețeaua se concentrează pe abordări cuprinzătoare și integrate pentru formare profesională și construirea capacității, care au ca scop managementul durabil al Dunării.

Images from the workshop and a guided tour in the Roussenski Lom Natural Park are available. [Access: Network workshop, Roussenski Lom Nature Park.

Later activities

In the period 2008-2011 the members have worked jointly on local activities. They have not yet tried to establish contact with colleagues and partners on the other side of the Danube, in Bulgaria.

In August 2011 I connected with Madalin Matica (Romanian, based in Bucharest). He is interested in supporting collaborative activities between Bulgaria and Romania involving the Danube, and is the newest member of the network. He collaborates with people in Romania’s Mehedinti county, together with their neighbors in Bulgaria and Serbia, and these people and communities may also become members.