The Danube river, the second longest river in Europe, supports 81 million people in 13 countries. This major river celebration, which was launched by the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR) in 2004, intends to raise awareness about the importance of protecting the Danube and the sustainable use of its resources.
The theme for Danube Day 2006 is "Danube: Living Space" and it will be celebrated in co-operation of national and local governmental organizations, scientific and environmental institutions, schools and others.
An important component for the celebrations of Danube Day is the "Green Danube Partnership" which is a private/public partnership to demonstrate business responsibility for the future of the Danube. The Partnership is founded on the cooperation of the ICPDR, together with The Coca-Cola Company and Coca-Cola HBC, and is the result of an agreement signed last year through which an on-going series of joint activities will be conducted to support the protection and sustainable use of the Danube river and its tributaries.
During the past 12 months local partnerships have been developed in Serbia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Slovakia. Following the inclusion this year of Austria, activities are now also being extended to the Ukraine and Moldova. In addition to awareness-raising events, clean-up operations, river tours and exhibitions, a primary focus of the Green Danube Partnership this year is the launch of an extensive education project called the “Danube Box”.
It consists in a “teaching kit” that will give local schoolchildren a greater understanding of the threats posed to the river, and the need to preserve water resources. The Danube Box will be launched in Austria on July 5th. It is intended that the educational tool, which the ICPDR will offer to Austrian teachers, will later be made available to school authorities in other countries along the Danube.
Speaking at the Danube Day celebration, Mr Philip Weller, executive secretary of the ICPDR, said, "The ‘Danube Box’ answers a need to effectively communicate information to the younger generation on the importance of the Danube river and its tributaries as part of our natural heritage. Along with the many other attention-raising events and activities, it is expected to prove valuable in giving people a greater understanding about the role rivers play in their lives, and stimulate a heightened interest in respecting, and protecting this great natural resource."
Sir Michael Llewellyn-Smith, board director Coca-Cola HBC, added, "We take our corporate social responsibilities very seriously indeed, and we have significant operations along the Danube River which contribute to water conservation and to a wider understanding of the concept of sustainable development.
Our recent signature of a cooperation agreement with the Duna-Drava National Park authority comes as a direct result of our relationship with the ICPDR and is a leading example of our commitment to sustainability.” Another major activity underway in the framework of the “Green Danube Partnership” is the establishment of a non-profit entity called “Business Friends of the Danube’. This entity will seek to raise financial support from the business sector to conduct activities under the leadership of the ICPDR.