Cooperation between Austria and Serbia in Preserving the Danube

Jun 25, 2024

Copyright: Nenad Mihailović

The cooperation of Danube countries is crucial for the preservation of the Danube River, which holds enormous potential for sustainable growth and development. A public discussion held on the occasion of Danube Day in Novi Sad brought together experts from Austria and Serbia, who spoke about preserving the Danube and establishing better cooperation among the countries through which this second-longest river in Europe flows.

This year, Austria is chairing the EU Strategy for the Danube Region, shaping opportunities for creating prosperity, resilience, and security in this region, which includes ten countries and over 80 million people.

The event was attended by the Austrian ambassador, Christian Ebner. “Austria and Serbia are – as we all know – geographically connected by the Danube. Both countries are active parts of the Danube Strategy, and the city of Novi Sad is a perfect example of this connection,” said the ambassador during the celebration of Danube Day.

Participants in the discussion included: Laura Hohoff, leader of the EU4Green project at the Austrian Environment Agency; Konrad Stania, head of department at the Austrian Ministry of Agriculture and expert for the Austrian Presidency of the EU Danube Region Strategy; Daniel Martinek, scientific researcher at the Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe; and Dr. Dragana Tomašević Pilipović, professor at the Faculty of Sciences in Novi Sad. The discussion was moderated by Majda Adlešić, a green entrepreneur and journalist from Novi Sad.

The EU4Green project supports the Western Balkans region in implementing the Green Agenda, and in Serbia, it focuses on reducing water pollution through various hands-on training for urban wastewater treatment plant operators, harmonizing legal regulations, and transferring experiences from Austria.

“By supporting Serbia in the area of urban wastewater treatment, we are jointly contributing to the preservation of the Danube River, which connects us and sustains many ecosystem functions. It is important for us to prevent and reduce everything that pollutes this beautiful river. This certainly includes the Nitrate Directive, aims to reduce water pollution caused or induced by nitrates from agricultural sources and that threaten water quality.” said Laura Hohoff from the Austrian Environment Agency and the leader of the EU4Green project.

During the discussion, the panelists emphasized the importance of joint action to preserve the Danube ecosystem, which is vital for biodiversity and the economic development of the region. Various aspects of environmental protection were discussed, including innovative approaches to water management, education and capacity building as well as cross-sectoral collaboration.

Particular emphasis was placed on the cooperation between Austria and Serbia and the exchange of experiences, as well as the application of learned lessons in ecological practices. The panelists also highlighted the need to raise public awareness about the importance of preserving the Danube and to strengthen the connection of all interested parties, from local communities to international organizations, to achieve common goals within the EU Strategy for the Danube Region.

The panel discussion was organized by the Austrian Cultural Forum, the EU Info Point Novi Sad, and the EU4Green project, hosted by the Cultural Station Svilara in Novi Sad.