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After the mass fish die-off: Conference on the future of the Oder River

How can we secure the future of the Oder river? After the mass fish and mussel die-off last summer, this question is more urgent than ever. After all, there is great fear that the catastrophe will repeat itself this year – we as Greens are fighting at all levels to ensure that this does not happen!

At a conference of the Green parliamentary groups in Brandenburg and in the German Bundestag, we therefore joined German and Polish experts from science, politics and civil society to talk about how the Oder ecosystem can be protected and used sustainably in times of climate crisis. I participated in the panel "The Oder as a transport route? Economic and transport policy aspects of the Oder expansion" (from min. 41:20, see video below).

For example, we discussed the cross-border effects of the planned container terminal at the river mouth to the Baltic Sea near Świnoujście. And we debated how we can better reconcile shipping, flood protection and an ecological development of the Oder. Currently, the Polish government is pushing ahead with the Odra river expansion, despite a construction stop imposed by a Polish administrative court. Meanwhile, scientific studies have shown that the planned reconstruction measures on the river increase rather than reduce the risk of summer floods, and that renaturation measures would make more sense when it comes to effective flood protection.



In the upper Polish section, the Oder is already controlled by barrages. Germany, on the other hand, has classified the Oder as a river that is "in large parts in its natural state", and in the Federal Transport Infrastructure Plan it is only designated as a secondary waterway. Therefore, in Germany, one can see almost no cargo ships on the river. There are some pleasure boats – but most importantly, many rare birds live in the area, and a vibrant flora and fauna thrives. Michael Kellner, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Economics, therefore sees the Oder as "a great opportunity for nature-based tourism" rather than a waterway.

Last year I travelled on the Oder and saw how countless volunteers did everything they could to save what could be saved in the river: my gratitude goes to them – and of course to all those who work tirelessly for the sustainable development of the region.

I would also like to thank everyone who made this conference possible, first and foremost the Green parliamentary group in the Brandenburg state parliament with members Sahra Damus and Isabell Hiekel.

I will definitely keep an eye on the issue – and I plan to return to the river this year.

You can watch the entire conference here:

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