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International Ministerial Conference “Connecting by Inland Navigation”

18 - 19 April 2018

The International Ministerial Conference “Connecting by Inland Navigation”, organized jointly by the Ministry of Maritime Economy and Inland Navigation of Poland and UNECE on 18-19 April in Wrocław, Poland, was aimed at increasing the focus of policy on fostering the role of inland water transport and addressing the challenges of sustainable development of mobility in inland water transport. The conference brought together more than 400 participants from 24 countries from Africa, Asia and Europe, but also from the European Commission, River Commissions, international associations and organizations, basin authorities and other key players. The Conference continued the practice of Pan-European high-level conferences on inland water transport held in 1991, 2001 and 2006.

It consisted of the Ministerial plenary session “Coordinated development of Inland Waterways a global strategy” and six thematic panel discussions dedicated to priority areas and modern challenges in inland navigation.

On 18 April, the Ministers and Heads of Governmental delegations were invited to sign the Ministerial Declaration “Inland Navigation in a Global Setting” which established main objectives and actions required for the sector for the years to come and invited countries and all parties concerned to develop action plans for their implementation.

At the Conference, the declaration was signed by 14 countries and, later on, four countries have become signatories. As of November 2018, the signatories are:

Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Switzerland, Thailand and Ukraine.

All other countries with a vested interest in inland waterways are invited to become signatories.

Ministerial DeclarationEnglish / French / Russian


More information is available on the website dedicated to the Conference (available in English, French, Russian and Polish). 


Inland Water Transport (IWT) is a fundamental link in global and regional transport networks and the supply chain for a number of industries. Its importance is growing in a number of regions across the world and as such the international community needs to focus on its future.

The high-level conferences on inland water transport held in Europe over the past 30 years boosted the coordinated development of inland waterways, proposed harmonized action plans towards improving the role of inland water transport and laid down the foundations of new multimodal network of Pan-European transport corridors. They include: 

- the Pan-European Ministerial Conference dedicated to Timely Issues of Inland Waterway Transport held on 11 September 1991 (Budapest);

- the Pan-European Conference on inland waterway transport held on 5 and 6 September 2001 in Rotterdam (Netherlands);

- the Pan-European Conference on inland waterway transport held on 13 and 14 September 2006 in Bucharest which was followed up by Resolution No. 258 “Supporting further development of inland water transport” adopted by ITC on 8 February 2007.

The UNECE White Paper on Efficient and Sustainable Inland Water Transport in Europe (2011) based on policy studies, ministerial declarations and input from European River Commissions and other international bodies specified seven priority areas of a Pan-European strategy for efficient and sustainable IWT in the UNECE region and proposed an international conference for countries with vested interest in inland navigation for responding effectively to new market requirements.

In the light of the Sustainable Development Agenda, the role of sustainable transport was emphasized in the Statement on Commitments and Policy Recommendations of the Global Sustainable Transport Conference (Ashgabat, 26-27 November 2016).