Ostrava, Wroclaw, Berlin: It has not changed much since the environmental disaster on the Oder in 2023. Mines and industrial plants are still discharging salty wastewater into the river in an uncontrolled way and it is just a question of time when a similar disaster happens again. According to the international coalition Time for the Oder, part of which is also the Arnika Association, countries in the Oder basin have to comply with water protection regulations and strategies consistently.
The International coalition Time for the Oder presented its vision for the Oder that is friendly to people and helps nature. The document was adopted by its member organisations at a conference in Criewen in Brandenburg at the beginning of September 2023. It responds to the needs of nature, as well as of communities living along the river, and presents a future considerably different from the current situation, and also from plans for further regulation of the Oder, especially of the current Polish government.
„The future of the Oder River is uncertain. There is missing an overall concept for improving the state of the Oder condition that should comprise measures for pollution reduction and strengthen resilience of the river landscape to environmental influences, such as floods or droughts. Sustainable development of the Oder River basin is able only if we respect nature when using the existing sources,” says the executive director of Deutscher Naturschutzring, Florian Schöne, as a representative of German organisations associated in the coalition.
Vlastimil Karlík from the Czech Arnika Association adds: „In our vision, and on examples of projects already implemented that are in accordance with it, we want to show that feasible environmentally-friendly alternatives exist for watercourse and landscape management. Sustainable development represents a great opportunity for nature and people in the Oder River basin.”
The international coalition Time for the Oder emphasizes that the presented vision is not a utopian concept of NGOs. It represents the situation that would result from consistent implementation of European and national directives, regulations and strategies.
Thus, on the occasion of the World Rivers Day, the Time for the Oder asks the governments of all the three countries to meet the objectives they have set out for local development as the EU Member States by legal regulations, commitments and recommendations.
„Good international cooperation is necessary for this. We, as citizens' associations from all the three countries, can serve as a good example in this respect. The time has come for the governments to start constructive cooperation, too, in order that Oder becomes a river bringing benefits to people and nature,” explains Dorota Chmielowiec-Tyszko from the organisation Fundacja Ekorozwoju.
At present, the coalition Time for the Oder associates 28 NGOs from the Czech Republic, Poland, and Germany.