METEET workshop on the climate resilience of inland waterways and ports was held on 6 June 2023

On 6 June 2023, the European Commission (DG MOVE) and the Danube Commission (DC) in cooperation with other stakeholders, organized the online METEET workshop on the climate resilience of inland waterways and ports. The topic for discussion was “A new instrument: Technical guidance on climate proofing of infrastructure in the period 2021-2027, Commission Notice C(2021) 5430”.

The workshop was attended by about 125 participants from different Danube River Basin countries, representing a large number of institutions (mostly river waterways and canal administrations, as well as port administrations). The discussions were moderated by Mr Hugues Van Honacker (DG MOVE), with introductory and concluding remarks by the coordinator of the Rhine-Danube corridor, Ms Inés Ayala Sender.

Various presentations by DG Clima, DG Move, DG ENV and CINEA increased the insights into EU policies, while complex legal details in the field of environmental protection and climate issues were combined with interactive reflections and clarifications on practical applications.

The debates touched upon the issue of climate proofing, a process that integrates climate change mitigation and adaptation measures into the development of infrastructure projects. Ports and waterways are already facing various risks associated with a range of meteorological and hydrological parameters and processes.

In order to enhance the resilience of transportation on inland waterways, rivers, channels, and ports located along inland waterways to climate change, several approaches were discussed, such as adaptation planning, infrastructure improvements, technology, and water management.

In the context of the upcoming CEF calls, EU member states shall ensure the security and resilience of the infrastructure to climate change when planning and implementing projects of common interest. It is therefore particularly important that the climate proofing requirements are made mandatory, and that future major projects take into account the impact of climate change (only works-related project applications). For applications concerning projects subject to an EIA, in case the key steps for the EIA have been completed after 18 January 2023, the applicants are under the obligation to submit the information on climate proofing.

The representative of the DC Secretariat highlighted that yearly Joint Statement (JS) meetings should be adapted to focus on special topics of interest and further needs (lessons learned in 2020) and further development of the METEET project. A complete revision of the JS process will start at the next JS meeting in September 2023, which is expected to identify new instruments for addressing future environmental challenges in Danube navigation.

In the framework of the workshop, DG MOVE announced that the study on the TEN-T climate adaptation and cross-border investment will be finished by March 2024. As an overall conclusion of the discussion, it was noted that river commissions have an important role to play in bringing together relevant stakeholders and in monitoring developments, while the European Commission needs to set the right incentives to motivate stakeholders to take necessary actions. A joint effort is needed in addressing the many challenges related to climate resilience of inland waterways and ports, one of the most important being the increase of human capacity in river administrations to deal with new issues.