In early 1990s the Ministry of National Education and Research and the National Institute for Marine Geology and Geoecology – GeoEcoMar had proposed the idea of creating an International Centre for advanced studies on the Danube River – Danube Delta – Black Sea System. To accomplish this goal, the Ministry of Education and Research obtained from local authorities 15 ha of land in Murighiol and entrusted the National Institute for Biological Sciences (INSB) to administrate this area.
The first major international meeting where the participants started dealing with the concept of the integrated management of river-delta-sea systems was jointly organized in the Danube Delta in 2006 by GeoEcoMar and the US Army Corps of Engineers. At this workshop, experts in deltas from Europe and worldwide discussed and analysed among others the requirements for a performant delta management, as well as the needs to integrate entire river catchments with deltas and coastal seas.
Over the years, the necessity of studying not just the Danube Delta ecosystem, but an integrated river-sea system became clearer. The lead in developing DANUBIUS-RI has been taken by Romania, which has committed this land and resources. In 2010 a workshop which brought together Romanian scientists from many universities and institutes from Europe and abroad further strengthened the concept (the Diaspora 2010 National Conference). Starting with 2011, Romania has had a series of dedicated programmes, via the National Core Funding Programme for GeoEcoMar and INSB, which gathered the advice and support of scientists and stakeholders from institutions in more than 15 countries across Europe.
In 2013 Romania provided funding via the National Sectoral Project no. S7/2013, coordinated by GeoEcoMar, in consortium with INSB and two companies (GEEA SRL and FMMC Consulting SRL). The project aimed at preparing the ESFRI Proposal for DANUBIUS-RI as distributed pan-European research infrastructure. The project started with the establishment of the International Initiative Committee, with the purpose to provide advice and support for the concept, proposal and consortium development. The scope of DANUBIUS-RI was widened from a focus on the Danube river-delta-sea system to large river-sea systems across Europe. A significant contribution to DANUBIUS-RI concept was also brought by the FP7 project DANCERS (DANube macroregion: Capacity building and Excellence in River Systems (basin, delta and sea)).
In 2013 the project received a stimulus when it was designated a Flagship Project of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region.
In late 2013 – and during 2014 the discussions of the already formed pan-European Consortium decided to push DANUBIUS-RI (as International Centre for Advanced Studies on River-Sea Systems) towards the list of infrastructures to be included in the ESFRI (European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures). March 2015 is the month when the DANUBIUS-RI ESFRI application was submitted. In March 2016, DANUBIUS-RI – the pan-European distributed Research Infrastructure for the Advanced Studies on River-Sea Systems (with its acronym marking the most international river in the world) was officially included on the ESFRI 2016 Roadmap.
As a result of this recognition, the DANUBIUS-RI consortium submits a proposal for HORIZON 2020 – INFRA DEV 2 call in June 2016. The 36 months HORIZON 2020 Project that supports the development of the pan-European entity – named DANUBIUS-PP (Preparatory Phase) was accepted and started on December 1st, 2016.
In the meanwhile, discussions have started in several of the partner countries, aiming to build the various components of the Research Infrastructure.