Save Polesia and Stop E40. Position paper in relation to the suggested E40 inland waterway

A coalition of national and international civil society organisatons from conservation to business sectors strives to keep the universal values of the Polesia for the citizens and future generations of Belarus, Poland and Ukraine and the wider Europe through repealing the destructive proposal of E40 navigation waterway. The coalition includes 5 organisations from 4 countries: APB – BirdLife Belarus and Bahna (Belarus), Frankfurt Zoological Society (Germany), OTOP – Polish Society for the Protection of Birds, NECU – National Ecological Centre of Ukraine.

Polesia is a cross-border region located in Central and Eastern Europe. The E40 inland waterway (E40 IWW) is a transnational initiative aimed at establishing an approximately 2 200 km long navigable connection between the Baltic and the Black Sea. The E40 inland waterway would impact 392 949 08 km2, which is inhabited by 28 690 834 people.

This position paper identifies the most important environmental and sustainability challenges linked to the proposed E40 IWW and explains what alternative vision and solutions exist. While promoters of E40 IWW claim the project to establish a new commercial highway between the ports of Gdansk, Poland and Kherson, Ukraine, which will attract investments and create new jobs, our coalition believes in another vision, which extends beyond the simple shortterm economic calculation.

Our coalition proposes:

• the 3 national governments to enforce the existing protected areas along the impacted rivers, and

• potential donors to fund a blue and green regional development based on natural solutions offered by ecosystem services.

According to our coalition, the E40 IWW should not be implemented and promoted in the future because of the following points:

• It impacts protected areas negatively and thus directly causes biodiversity loss and wetland habitats degradation;

• It is not aligned with existing policies including various international conventions;

• It does not take sustainable development goals into account with special attention on economic justification and human health (for instance part of E40 will go downstream from the Chernobyl exclusion zone);

• Its economic calculation ignores the concept of ecosystem services, for instance natural solutions for flood and climate change mitigation;

• Considering the impact of climate change on weather anomalies, its core purpose, the inland navigation, does not offer a sustainable solution for transport.

The coalition wants the national governments to enforce the protection of riverine habitats and match it with a sustainable regional development scenario between the Baltic and the Black Seas. Therefore the coalition suggests a new approach to address transportation and regional development needs for the sake of enforcing nature conservation efforts done so far by the 3 national governments. This new approach would guarantee the continued protection of wetland habitats, contribute to the countries’ commitment to halt biodiversity loss, provide natural solution to climate and flood mitigation, while be a green economic alternative in the region. The National Governments will have to invest in sustainable regional development through funding available at the European Union or the European Investment Bank’s Natural Capital Financing Facility. The investment in green economy will make the territory between the Baltic and Black Sea a role model for other European regions.

Following upon the basic rights set up by the Aarhus Convention to access and receive information with regard to our environment, the coalition calls the authorities for the following points to enforce in relation to the further planning of E40 IWW: Environmental accountability, Public participation, Transparency.

Full text of the Position paper is available in Russian and in English.

River Pripyat
River Pripyat© Сергей Плыткевич/
Polesie. Sporovsky Reserve
Polesie. Sporovsky Reserve© Споровский заказник