Developing inland navigation to a leading mode of transport is only possible with the presence of a clear and consistent policy. Policy-making is also about making decisions on for example the amount of investment in infrastructure or either or not stimulating sustainable and innovative developments. As a result of these decisions, policy determinates largely the development of inland navigation.


However, clear and consistent policy is a complex issue since policy-making happens on different levels, in which several local, regional, national and international governmental organizations are involved. Besides, for the navigation on some international rivers, there are also (international) river commissions involved in policy-making and drafting regulations for the navigation on those particular rivers.


Policy should be focussed on stimulating the development of important issues, like sustainable and innovative transport. As a sustainable and environmental-friendly mode of transport, inland navigation should be stimulated, for example by the facilitation of a modal shift from road transport to inland waterway transport. Besides, there should be a focus on constantly improving and innovating inland navigation on issues, like sustainability, safety, education and information systems.


There are different ways of stimulating (sustainable, innovative) inland navigation. One way is to establish funding programs, in which projects concerning modal shift or innovative, sustainable developments in inland navigation are subsidized. Also for example the implementation of information systems and sustainable engines are subsidized by several national funding programs in Europe.


Not only by the use of funding programs, governmental organizations are also able to use regulations to enforce such developments or stimulate modal shift in other ways. Examples are more rigid environmental or safety regulations. But also in other ways, it is able to enforce particular developments. For example, as part of the construction of Maasvlakte 2, the Port of Rotterdam - a private company, owned by the Municipality of Rotterdam and the Netherlands Ministry of Finance - has required its terminal operators contractually to engage to a modal split in which 45% of the container transport to the hinterland will be done by barge.


In order to coordinate policy-making between the government and public and private organizations, cooperation could be necessary. An example of such a cooperation is the 'Inland navigation covenant' in the Netherlands between the then Netherlands Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management and the Dutch sector organizations for inland navigation. One of the key themes in this covenant is to stimulate innovation within inland navigation and resulted in the foundation of the Expertise and Innovation Centre Inland Shipping.




Regulatory issues

The government is able to enforce development by drafting regulations. By doing so, it is able to uphold stricter environmental and safety demands.


International river commissions

Next to the government, there are also some organizations involved in drafting regulations for navigation on inland waterways. The Central Commission for Navigation on the Rhine (CCNR) is concerned with setting up regulations on safety, environment, labour conditions, nautical-technical aspects, dangerous goods, waste collection and processing, social issues etc. for the Rhine river network. Also for several other rivers there are river commissions, like the Danube Commission and the Mekong River Commission.


Funding programs

In the European Union, there are a few funding programs stimulating (the development of) inland navigation. Marco Polo II is a European funding program for the transport sector, which stimulates intermodal projects and modal shift from road to inland waterway and rail transport. This is not only tried to achieve by stimulating the concrete modal shift, but also by stimulating common learning and by breaking market barriers. Marco Polo II is an international program from 2007 till 2010, in which actions have to involve more than one EU-member state. The amount of budget available for projects within this program is 450 million euro (annually 60 million euro).


The 7th Research Framework Programme (FP7) is a European program, in which several research projects are subsidized.


Also at national level, there are several funding programs, mostly focussed on stimulating a particular issue, like the use of RIS. However, in the Netherlands was the funding program SIB established, in order to stimulate innovation projects in inland navigation. This funding program was part of the inland navigation covenant, in which an innovation program was established.


Action programs

Not only with funding or regulations inland navigation could be stimulated by governmental organizations, also in other ways this stimulation of a modal shift or innovative, environmental improvement of barges takes place. A European action program, in which inland navigation is stimulated, is NAIADES. This program takes place from 2006 till 2013.


Public Private Partnership: Inland navigation covenant

In the Netherlands, the cooperation between government and sector organizations in the inland navigation has been formalized by the so-called 'Inland navigation covenant' in 2006. In this covenant, the government and most of the sector organizations have engaged in performing activities to achieve several goals, like to become the most sustainable and clean mode of transport and also to improve innovation, to make maximal use of the market potential and improve the safety and security of inland navigation. As part of this covenant and the establishment of an innovation program, the Expertise and Innovation Centre Inland Shipping has been established.


Presentations on this topic at the Rivers of the World Forum