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Lyon (France) 13 October 2015 International conference Rhone

IFGR session no. 1: Rivers faced by climate change

First international session of the IFGR panel – from 13 to 15 October 2015 at Lyon. Session theme: the place and role of the river in energy transition and the response to climate change.

Rivers, a subject absent from international negotiations

Rivers are one of the resources most threatened by climate change. They are also part of the response to it: renewable energy sources, alternative and cleaner transport routes, water reserves for irrigation, etc. However, up to now the subject has not been dealt with directly during the international negotiations on climate change. During the Paris climate conference (COP21) in December 2015, which led to the Paris Agreement, several concerns relating to river resources were mentioned without rivers being cited as such.

Four orientations: urban development, energy, navigation, agriculture

The goal of the first session was to give expression to a common voice on rivers directed at decision-making authorities. Four sub-themes were chosen for this initial meeting:

  • Floods / urban development.
  • Hydroelectricity production and energy models.
  • Navigation.
  • Irrigation and agriculture.

Certain themes such as the combat against water pollution were dealt with transversally.

These subjects all became areas of action that permitted listing concrete responses to the challenges facing rivers. Who is responsible for floods? How can hydroelectricity become a lever for energy transition? Is river transport an outmoded mode or one of the future? How can the development of agriculture benefit from new modes of river management?

Public presentation of the first meeting at the Musée des Confluences

Launching seven challenges

IFGR committed itself to launching seven challenges at the end of this meeting and on the occasion of the COP21:

  1. Revigorate river transport.
  2. Re-evaluate the energy potential of hydroelectricity.
  3. Fight against floods together.
  4. Treat wastewater before discharging it.
  5. Preserve the ecosystem needed by aquatic fauna.
  6. Share good irrigation practices.
  7. Defend deltas.
Meeting with the Mayor of Lyon, Gérard Collomb

Whether territorialised initiatives or sociocultural reflections on the place of the river in our societies, the solutions are detailed in the concluding document of the session. A forum written by Erik Orsenna and signed by most of the panellists was published in the Le Figaro newspaper at the end of the COP21.

Discover this first session in a short video.

Read the article in the Figaro of 14 December 2015: “We have forgotten the rivers!”

Download the report

Download the conclusions

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