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Ministers call for accrued efforts to embrace the full potential of Inland Navigation for sustainable development

Published: 18 April 2018

Inland Navigation has an important role to play to advance the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Its advantages in terms of high safety level, efficiency in energy use and costs, as well as low emissions could offer key contributions to reducing transport and logistics costs, as well as congestions on the road, if countries use them to their full potential.

The many concrete benefits for the economy that Inland Navigation can bring in terms of safety, environmental protection and logistics were at the centre of debates at the International Ministerial Conference Connecting by Inland Navigation, which opened today in Wroclaw.

The Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland, His Excellency Mr. Mateusz Morawiecki, delivered opening remarks to some 400 delegates, which gathered to discuss the development of inland navigation across the world and on a number of river basins. More than fifty UN member States across the globe have navigable inland waterways – rivers, canals, lakes, some of them are of international importance which play or could play a significant role in international freight and passenger transport.

Speakers addressed areas such as investment in inland waterways, the contribution the sector is making to achieving the sustainable development goals, technological development, the training and working conditions on waterways. The Conference also emphasized the importance of the role of inland water transport for the sustainable functioning of national transport systems and the contribution it can make to social and economic development.

Progress on topics such as international projects designed to eliminate administrative barriers, the rehabilitation of the fairway of international rivers, removing bottlenecks on waterways, national transport strategies and projects aimed at the development of inland water transport infrastructure, was reviewed.

The first day of the Conference concluded with the adoption of the Ministerial Declaration Inland Navigation in a Global Setting. The Declaration sets forth a number of strategic actions to improve the competitive position of inland waterways across the globe with the aim of creating a sustainable future for Inland Navigation.

The Declaration stresses in particular the need for:

  • an appropriate regulatory frameworks, and the role that the United Nations Conventions for the sector can play in developing them,
  • using the full potential of the sector in balancing transport modes and promoting multimodality,
  • ensuring the sector’s resilience to climate change,
  • increasing the competitiveness of the sector through innovation,
  • ensuring that the development of Inland Water Transport is pursued in an internationally harmonized manner.

Countries and all parties concerned are invited to develop action plans for the implementation of these issues, and progress will be monitored.

The Ministerial Conference is organised jointly by UNECE and the Ministry of Maritime Economy and Inland Navigation of Poland.

Join the discussion on social media with the hashtag #InlandNavigation18

Note to editors

In the European Union, some 6% of all goods transported are carried by inland waterways; road and rail transport carry 76% and 18%, respectively. The EU counts 37 000 kilometers of waterways connecting hundreds of cities and industrial regions.

Countries with efficient navigable waterways and year-round access, have considerably higher shares of freight transport by inland waterway, particularly along the Rhine and Danube corridors: the Netherlands (39%), Belgium (21.1%), Romania (20%), Bulgaria (13.5%) and Germany (11.4%) (as of 2017).

In the Russian Federation, due to winter periods, inland waterways account for around 2% of total goods transport, however, totalling 70 to 80 billion t-km. 


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