European governments urged to adopt five-point plan against flooding
The Elbe river near Dessau, Germany.
Gland, Switzerland - On the eve of a summit on the floods hosted by German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in Berlin with the expected presence of the premiers of Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, as well as European Union Commission President Romano Prodi, WWF is calling on the European leaders to adopt a five-point plan to minimize the impact of future flooding.
WWF believes that cross-border rivers need to be managed cooperatively by all the countries in each river catchment to reduce the impacts of floods and maximise river health and clean water supplies.
The conservation organization urges the European leaders to adopt the following measures:
1. Set a timeline at the World Summit for countries that share each transboundary river to cooperate to manage floods, water supplies and environmental health.
2. Allocate funds to accelerate implementation of the European Union's Water Framework Directive that requires European countries to sustainably manage their rivers.
3. Accelerate implementation of the agreements reached at the Danube Heads of State Summit in Bucharest in April 2001.
4. Allocate funds to restore functioning floodplains in the upper reaches of Europe's rivers, thus giving the rivers room to hold floodwaters naturally and safely.
5. Adopt a target to source 10 percent of energy from new renewable sources by 2010 at the World Summit, to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions driving climate change, which appears to be exacerbating flooding globally.
"We expect European governments to lead efforts to re-establish a target for cooperative management of each of the world's trans-national rivers at this month's World Summit on Sustainable Development," said Jamie Pittock, Director of WWF's Living Waters Programme. "It is disgraceful that the world's governments axed a draft agreement to better manage transboundary rivers at the Summit's preparatory meeting in Bali in June."
Flood damage is exacerbated when rivers are put in narrow straight-jackets of dams and dykes.
According to WWF, the European governments have previously agreed to work with nature rather than fighting these rivers, but have been too slow to implement action on the ground.
On the Danube, Elbe and other rivers, WWF and our partners have started working with nature to restore floodplain areas to give rivers room to flood without damaging towns and cities.
"Floods will be reduced if European governments cooperate to restore floodplains to give rivers room," Jamie Pittock added.
For further information:
Director, WWF International's Living Waters Programme
Tel.: +31 629 09 18 41
Olivier van Bogaert
Press Office, WWF International
Tel.: +41 79 477 35 72