Secretary-General Kofi Annan today pledged the support of the United Nations for efforts to protect the Danube River, which is currently threatened by pollution and other man-made hazards.
In a message to the Summit on Environment and Sustainable Development in the Danube-Carpathia Region, being held in Bucharest, Mr. Annan pointed out that the Danube River -- the second longest in Europe -- provides a livelihood for tens of millions of people in the region.
"Agriculture, fishing, power generation, manufacturing, tourism and recreation are all directly or indirectly dependent on the river's health, yet that health faces grave threats from industrial and chemical toxins, municipal waste, agro-chemical run-off and other harmful substances and unsustainable activities," he warned.
The Secretary-General also pointed to some encouraging signs, including the entry-into-force of the Convention on the Protection and Sustainable Use of the Danube River. "Such cooperation will be increasingly important as the economic and political integration of Europe intensifies," he said, pledging the UN's support for riparian States in their efforts to implement multilateral agreements, harmonize policies and address challenges facing the region.
The Secretary-General also expressed hope that the current meeting would help build momentum towards next year's World Summit on Sustainable Development, which will convene in Johannesburg to review progress since the 1992 UN Conference on the Environment and Development.
The Secretary-General's message was delivered on his behalf by Danuta Hübner, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Europe.