ICPR – International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine

Integration and example

1986 - 2000

After the Sandoz accident and with increasing public environmental awareness, the ICPR experienced years of intensive and successful work.

Within short time, three Conferences of Ministers were staged, leading to the adoption of the Rhine Action Programme in 1987. Its target was to improve water quality to such an extent that formerly indigenous species, such as salmon, would be able to return to the river. A consequence of the Rhine Action Programme was that requirements concerning municipal and industrial wastewater treatment plants became distinctly more strict and a third treatment stage was introduced to eliminate phosphorous and nitrates. The first survey in 1992 already gave evidence of a considerable reduction of pollutants. At the same time, the entire ecosystem was supposed to be enhanced together with the improved chemical water quality and flora and fauna were to be strengthened.

Two disastrous floods occurring Christmas 1993 and in January/February 1995 made the Ministers in charge of environment entrust the river commissions for the Rhine, the Moselle-Sarre and the Meuse with the elaboration of Flood Action Plans.
Thus, between 1987 and 1999 the ICPR developed a comprehensive international water management integrating qualitative and quantitative aspects of surface waters and groundwater, which has since inspired many river catchments all over the world.

The principle of integration comprises industry, agriculture, navigation, energy and municipalities, which are considerably involved in water protection, as all uses have an effect on the state and quantity of Rhine water. A motivation for the representatives of the different sectors was, among others, the clear demand of the citizens for a greater sense of ecological responsibility of the economic sector.
All new and additional targets were integrated into the new Rhine Convention (1999). Its title "Convention on the Protection of the Rhine" reflects the idea of a comprehensive, integrated management approach.

1986 Two meetings of ministers determining the guidelines for the Rhine Action Programme (only in German, French and Dutch)

1987 Ministers decide on the implementation of the Rhine Action Programme (only in German and French)

1994 Ministers' decision on the guidelines for a new Rhine Convention

1995 Ministers require the drafting of an “Action Plan on Floods” (only in German and French)

1998 Conference of Rhine ministers (22.01.98) passing the Action Plan on Floods and adopting the text of the new Rhine Convention

1999 Signature of the new Rhine Convention