EFA MEP Diana Riba is calling for concrete action at EU level to conserve Europe's deltas, including the Ebro Delta.
Significant deltas in Europe include the Danube, the Vistula, the Rhine, the Po, the Rhone and the Ebro.
They are all rich in biodiversity and of high socio-economic and environmental significance, but many face challenges due to climate change such as erosion, subsidence, flooding and salinization.
Diana Riba and fellow Catalan MEP Toni Comin have published a Manifesto for the protection of European Deltas, together with the Platform in Defense of the river Ebro (Plataforma en Defensa de l’Ebre).
The Ebro Delta in Catalonia suffered severe detrimental effects following Storm Gloria in January 2020 which saw the storm surge 3km inland. The delta once again suffered from the effects of Storm Filomena in January 2021 with significant damage caused.
The MEPs are concerned that the people who live around the Ebro Delta could become Europe's first climate refugees.
The manifesto notes that there are 10,000 deltas in the world which are home to 339 million people.
But many of these deltas are vulnerable to flooding because of climate change and poor management.
The manifesto calls upon the European Commission to 'increase efforts to conserve and restore European deltas, especially within the framework of the Water Framework Directive and its implementation in the Member States'.
Diana Riba said:
"This manifesto is the culmination of considerable collaboration with various partners including the Platform in Defence of the Ebro. This is a shared struggle in which politics and civil society go hand in hand.
"Last Monday I was back at the Ebro Delta and saw the damage that recent storms have caused. These extreme weather events due to climate change are compounded by the Spanish government's disastrous management of the river.
"The situation in the Ebro Delta highlights the need for urgent and far-reaching measures not only to save our delta, but many others across Europe that are vulnerable to global warming.
"In the context of the European Green Deal, now is the time for decisive action at European level to defend and conserve Europe's deltas. Europe must act to save the Ebro Delta and others - and this manifesto sets out how."
Specifically, the MEPs are demanding the following action from the European Commission:
- The improvement of the monitoring of the management plans of the river basins of Europe,
- The development of a specific orientation guide, as part of the implementation of the Water Framework Directive, on the comprehensive management of sediments at the river basin level,
- The consideration of deltas as priority areas for action within the framework of the European Green Deal,
- The development of a European plan for the restoration and recovery of the deltas.