This project examines the impact of two centuries of human intervention in the riparian space of the Lower Danube, contextualizing its present ecological degradation. The research network coordinated by the IOS and the GWZO brings together cooperation partners from the region (Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia) and additional international scholars to create an interdisciplinary team to analyze the complex relationship between governance and the environment. Over the course of 200 years, the Danube was subject to different legal and administrative regimes influenced by empires, international organizations, nation states, state socialism and the European Union. Each regime shaped the river’s environment, often clashing with local communities and the river itself.

Drawing on the concepts of “political ecology” and “eco-governance,” the project analyzes the multilayered, often contested histories of remaking the Lower Danube through four dimensions: 1) international law and international organizations, 2) economic exploitation, 3) infrastructural transformation and its social consequences 4) current environmental programs.

Academically, the project will contribute to ongoing debates about the history of environmental degradation, governance, Europeanization, river management practices and economic development. The practical impact will be the transfer of knowledge to local communities and government agencies.