11 November 2022 -The results of the international river protection project Tid(y)Up – Follow the Plastic from Source to the Sea were presented at a two-day closing event. In the framework of this co-ordinated action plan, as a result of research carried out in order to eliminate the plastic contamination of the Danube and the Tisza, river clean-up actions, awareness-raising activities and the elaboration of legislative proposals, not only 18 tons of waste were removed from the water, but the 21 organizations from 7 countries participating in the project implemented international cooperation and raised the representation of the rivers to a higher level. It was also thanks to this project that in 2022, the PET Cup prevented the release of more waste into the natural environment than what was collected from the river and its flood plains this year.
During the event held at Budapest University of Technology and Economics as well as in the Kisköre River Guard Centre of the Tisza PET Cup, the project partners presented to the more than 120 participants the research findings, conclusions, proposed measures and further plans of the Tid(y)Up project co-funded by the European Union funds with the financial contribution of partner states.
During the panel discussions about the rights of rivers and the advocacy of natural values, representatives of science, law and practice shared their thoughts on the basis of international examples about the future applicability of the above ideas to our rivers, especially with reference to the pioneering case of the Mar Menor lagoon granted legal status as a person this year.
Photo: (from left to right) Péter Gergő Katona, Dr. Nesho Chipev, Zsófia Tomaj, Dr. Gyula Bándi, Dr. Sándor Fülöp
(courtesy of Emese Silimon)
In his video message opening the conference, Csaba Kőrösi, President of the UN General Assembly welcomed the achievements of the transborder cooperation throughout the project, stressing that “We need this solidarity to find the way how to save our living waters... Tid(y)Up is a good example of the practical solutions that we need in order to realise the 2030 agenda for sustainable development”. In conclusion, he underlined that “We need urgent tranformation, but with science on our side, we are able to transform”.
In his talk, Viktor Oroszi, national coordinator for the Danube Region Strategy summarized international trends and research, while Ádám Kovács technical expert on behalf of the ICPDR pointed out that the project had filled a void, and highlighted its key research findings, which are useful information when preparing international catchment area management plans.
As Attila Dávid Molnár, President of Filmjungle.eu Society, the brainparent of PET Cup, gave an account in his comprehensive overview, harmonized measurement protocols were established for microplastic river contamination, results were compared, and recommendations were elaborated in the course of the project. A training was held on the application of the current methods of measuring macro plastic contamination, an online map of the contamination of the Tisza Basin was prepared, and an e-book and a joint protocol were also elaborated with a view to tracking waste contamination.
Photo: Presentation by Attila Dávid Molnár (courtesy of Emese Silimon)
The participants of the event received the first version of the international river cleanup handbook entitled AQUATIC PLASTIC, soon to be published in 1,000 copies as well as in e-book format in English. This book, unparalleled even in the global context, offers a practical methodology for organizing local awareness-raising actions and river cleanups, while also covering the possibilities of recycling aquatic waste, how to collect the necessary funds, recruit volunteers and prepare in advance for emergency situations.
Moreover, renowned experts shared their experience and knowledge about the problem of river pollution, their proposals for prevention, and pollution assessment methodology: By Thomas de Groote Founder of River Cleanup we could gain an insight into European best practices carried out for the protection of living waters, marine biology research findings on plastic pollution by Joao Canning-Clode, Senior Researcher at Coastal Systems and Ocean, Madeira as well as into solutions aimed at recycling river and ocean plastic waste by Bernard Merkx, Co-founder of Waste Free Oceans Foundation.
The second day of the conference focused on presenting the FLEX (Floating Exhibition), which was constructed on a refurbished ferry, using solely recycled and reused material over the past months. Floating on the water, it calls the attention of decision-makers and citizens in an unconventional way to the contamination of freshwaters, especially of the Danube and the Tisza, and the responsibility of the individual and the community. The aim of the exhibition is to bring the river closer to the people in an attempt to change visitors’ relationship to plastic.
Photo: FLEX (Floating Exhibition) in Kisköre (courtesy of KSZGYSZ)
In the course of the project, local, national and international level panel discussions were held on the topic of river protection in six countries, where project leaders collected potential solutions to local river-related challenges and measures proposed by those affected.
A key component of this project was the Waste reduction toolkit, which contains readily applicable and practical educational materials as well as a waste reduction guideline for schools, local governments, inhabitants and other affected stakeholders by the river as a complex awareness raising knowledge base for the implementation of plastic-free river banks. The toolkit is available in 7 languages for all in the participating countries, thus enhancing knowledge sharing and the dissemination of information.
As a significant achievement, based on the research findings of the project and the conclusions drawn from the panel discussions, policy recommendations will be put forth on transboundary water quality protection to the competent EU bodies and decision-makers.
As it became clear from the project film shown at the end of the conference, thanks to our broad co-operation, we have managed to take some significant steps in order to improve the condition of rivers and facilitate professional dialogue. The film can be viewed from mid-November.
However, work must not stop. In light of their experience and findings, the participants of the project are keen on pursuing and extending this project, and they wish to have an impact on the source so that no contamination would take place – but even if it does, that it would not reach the estuary.
About the Tid(y)Up project
The lead partners of the Tid(y)Up project implemented between 2020 and 2022 with the involvement of 7 countries located in the catchment area of the Danube and the Tisza, 10 partners and 11 additional associate partners was Filmjungle.eu Association, the mastermind behind the 10-year-old Tisza PET Cup. Moreover, the Hungarian Association of Environmental Enterprises and the National Directorate of Water Management were also key partners in the practical implementation of the set objectives.
Despite increasingly developed waste management technologies and the commitment of the member states, the approximately 12 tons of waste entering the environment and our natural waters are causing a more and more serious problem also in the territory of the European Union. The bulk of the aquatic plastic (and other waste) reaches the oceans through the rivers: the problematics of garbage patches floating on distant oceans is creeping closer and closer to landlocked countries, calling for collective and comprehensive solutions. A complex problem requires a complex solution: we need harmonized actions, standard measurements, modern waste management, awareness-raising and prevention.
The problem is global, yet there is no generally accepted, standard methodology to assess the plastic contamination of rivers. This is an especially crucial problem in the case of the Danube, which flows through 10 countries and 4 capitals, and whose catchment area affects 7 additional countries. This is why we need harmonized actions, awareness-raising, and in particular, prevention for the Tisza, because the Danube’s tributary originating from Ukraine is among the most polluted rivers of the European Union.
Lead partner: Filmjungle.eu Society (Hungary), ASRD (Slovakia) - Agency for the Support of Regional Development Košice (Slovakia), ARR – Agency of Regional Development Cross Border Cooperation “Transcarpathia” of Zakarpatska Oblast Council (Ukraine), BOKU – University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (Austria), IOBAS – Institute of Oceanology – Bulgarian Academy of Science (Bulgaria), KSZGYSZ – Hungarian Association of Environmental Enterprises (Hungary), Multisalva Association (Romania), National Directorate of Water Management (Hungary), PAPILIO Association for Nature and Environmental Protection (Ukraine), UNS –Faculty of Tehnical Sciences, University of Novi Sad
The project was co-funded from the INTERREG Danube Transnational Programme by the European Union and the Hungarian State.
Issued by: Hungarian Association of Environmental Enterprises and Naturefilm.eu Society
director of communications and international relations
Hungarian Association of Environmental Enterprises
E-mail: Phone: +36 30 867 8185
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