New EU Inland Waterway Development Action Plan must adhere to legal water protection requirements

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The European Green Deal announced measures to increase the capacity of inland waterways to ‘shift a substantial part of inland freight from road onto rail and waterways’. These intentions are incompatible with the European Commission’s ambitions to protect and restore wetland ecosystems to bring substantial socio-economic benefits and to preserve and restore biodiversity in lakes, rivers, wetlands and estuaries. The forthcoming EU Action Plan for Navigation and Inland Waterway development NAIADES III must include actions to achieve the Green Deal’s and the Water Framework Directive’s environmental objectives.

The natural state of most rivers in Europe has been extensively modified and is still increasingly threatened by infrastructural development. Rivers are ever more disconnected due to dams and other hard infrastructure, meaning few rivers are still free flowing. River damming, channelization and disconnection from riverine landscapes have negative effects on biodiversity, human safety and future economies. Over one-third of Europe’s freshwater species are threatened and migratory freshwater fish have declined by 93%.

The Commission is inviting stakeholders to give feedback on the Roadmap for the ‘Navigation And Inland Waterway Action and Development in Europe (NAIADES) III Action Plan 2021-2027’. The consultation period is open until mid January 2021. Wetlands International Europe calls on the European Commission to ensure the appropriate integration of environmental objectives in EU transport policies as a general rule, and in the NAIADES III Action Plan in specific, in order to protect freshwater species and ecosystems in Europe.

Download our specific feedback on the Roadmap for the NAIADES III Action Plan below.

Feedback Wetlands International to EC Roadmap for NAIADES III Action Plan

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Header image: An aerial photo of the River Pripyat and its surrounding floodplain meadows, wetlands and oxbow lakes in the Turov area, Polesie, Belarus. This is an extremely important site for migrating birds. The plans to develop the E40 navigable waterway would require dredging, damming, straightening, and deepening of pristine rivers resulting in destruction of these floodplains and wetlands. © Daniel Rosengren/FZS