Part 3
Projects & Landmarks
Environment / Project


International Centre for Advanced Studies on River-Sea Systems

An interdisciplinary research and innovation infrastructure for River-Sea systems


The International Centre for Advanced Studies on River-Sea Systems (DANUBIUS-RI) is a distributed Research Infrastructure to enable excellent interdisciplinary research and innovation on River-Sea (RS) systems. It spans the environmental, social and economic sciences and brings together research on different environmental sectors. European research on RS systems and their transitional environments is world-leading but fragmented, largely discipline-specific and often geographically isolated. DANUBIUS-RI will draw on existing research expertise across Europe, enhance the impact of European research and maximise the return on investment. It will provide access to a range of European RS systems, facilities and expertise; a one-stop-shop for knowledge exchange in managing RS systems; access to harmonised data; and a platform for interdisciplinary research, inspiration, education and training.

In the ESFRI Roadmap since 2016, DANUBIUS-RI is in the Preparatory Phase. Operations are expected to start in 2022.


Surface waters are central in global biogeochemical cycles, food and energy production, and societal wellbeing. Biodiversity hotspots at the interface between land and water provide essential ecosystem services and face natural and anthropogenic environmental perturbations at local and global scales. However, the nature of RS systems and their transitional environments and the lack of interdisciplinary Research Infrastructures has contributed to fragmentation of research.

DANUBIUS-RI – named from the world’s most international river – covers the RS continuum with a focus on transitional environments, such as estuaries, deltas and the interface with groundwater, and rectifies this fragmentation. The Research Infrastructure will comprise a Hub and a Data Centre in Romania, a Technology Transfer Office in Ireland, and Supersites and Nodes across Europe. The Hub will provide leadership, coordination, and key scientific, educational and analytical capabilities. Supersites are designated natural sites for observation, research and modelling at locations of high scientific importance across a range of European RS systems. Supersites are: the Danube Delta (RO), Middle Danube (HU), Upper Danube (AT), Nestos (EL), Elbe Estuary (DE), Thames Estuary (UK), Ebro-Llobregat Deltaic System (ES), Po Delta–North Adriatic Lagoons (IT), Guadalquivir Estuary (ES), Tay Catchment (UK), Rhine/Meuse Delta (NL) and Mid Rhine (DE). Nodes are centres of expertise providing facilities and services, data storage and provision, experimental and in situ measurements facilities, state-of- the-art analytical capabilities and implementation of standardised procedures and quality control (DANUBIUS Commons). Leading Institutions for the Nodes are in the UK (Observation), Germany (Analysis), Italy (Modelling) and Netherlands (Impact). Additional needs will be met by Accredited Service Providers, under the coordination of the Institutions, thus increasing research capability and capacity across Europe.

steps for implementation

DANUBIUS-RI has received political support from fourteen partner countries in Europe, four of which have already made financial commitments, and expressions of support from organisations in 16 other countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, and North America. DANUBIUS-RI has been designated a flagship project of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region.

The initial part of the Hub was inaugurated in September 2015. The Preparatory Phase work is to bring DANUBIUS-RI to the level of legal, financial, and technical maturity for implementation. This includes: further involvement with partners and stakeholders to develop the Nodes, Supersites and other components; seeking political support from additional countries; development of the DANUBIUS Commons; engagement with national funding bodies; application for Structural Funds; and development of ERIC statutes. The aim is to achieve the European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) status and become operational by 2022.

legal status
political support
lead country
prospective member countries
The full list of research institutions involved must be found in the website of the RI
Roadmap Entry
Preparation Phase
Implementation/Construction Phase
Operation Start
estimated costs
capital value
300 M€
Not Available
2 M€
222 M€
28 M€/year

Murighiol, Romania