event 26 mai 2021 time 09:00 27 mai 2021 time 16:30 CEST

Symposium // European River Symposium 2021

In this year's edition, the two day European River Symposium will highlight the changes for rivers and specific actions that have resulted from European legislation as well as the EU Green Deal and the Biodiversity Strategy 2030.

European River Symposium 2021


The 2021 European River Symposium will focus on building connections between institutions, organisations and companies with an interest in rivers and whose activities affect the health and quality of river water and ecosystems. European rivers still suffer pollution and damages. The 2018 European Water’s report finds that only around 40% of surface waters (rivers, lakes and transitional and coastal waters) are in good ecological status, and only 38% are in good chemical status.

The EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030 states that at least 25,000 km of rivers should be restored into free-flowing rivers by 2030. The EU Commission will help to build a European Business for Biodiversity movement making it an integral part of the European Climate Pact. And the Farm to Fork Strategy is at the heart of the Green Deal with an urgent need to reduce dependency on pesticides, antimicrobials, reduce excess fertilisation, increase organic farming, improve animal welfare and reverse biodiversity loss.

About the event

The Symposium will highlight the changes to rivers and specific actions that have been brought about by the European Legislation (the Water Framework Directive) and most importantly the possibilities and opportunities presented by the European Green Deal and European Biodiversity Strategy. These new initiatives provide a significant basis for strengthening the efforts and actions to protect and restore rivers and their associated ecosystems and to ensure that rivers can continue providing services and benefits to people.

The 2021 Symposium will involve a mix of presentations that will set the stage for understanding rivers and the current political and legal climate in managing them (especially from the EU) followed by working groups and dialogue between actors interested in and affecting rivers. Special focus will be on alignment and exploration of interests between water users (water supply, navigation, agriculture, and hydropower) and conservation and planning and management authorities. Case studies and examples will be explored in more detail in these groups.


Here you can find the tentative programme (time expressed in Central European Summer Time) of the event.

About the European River Symposium

The 2021 European River Symposium is a continuation of an effort begun in 2013, with the convening of the first European River Symposium, to strengthen efforts to protect, restore and better manage rivers in Europe. The Symposium will be a forum for presenting information about the state of rivers, highlighting important problems, and bringing examples and initiatives that improve the protection and restoration of rivers. Above all the Symposium will focus on building connections between institutions, organisations and companies with an interest in rivers and whose activities affect the health and quality of river water and ecosystems.

Registration and Tickets

Participants can purchase single day or two-days tickets - ranging from 15€ for students for one day to 75€ for two days - and can choose which parallel sessions they would like to attend.

Keynote speakers European River Symposium 2021

Day 1

Virginijus Sinkevičius is the present Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, at the European Commission. Mr Sinkevičius was from 2017 to 2019 Minister of Economy, and before he was leading the Committee of Economy at the Parliament of Lithuania. Mr. Sinkevičius was elected to the Parliament in October 2016. Prior, he was a Team Lead for Regulatory Affairs at Invest Lithuania. Mr. Sinkevičius holds BA in International Relations and Affairs from Aberystwyth University and Master‘s degree in European International Affairs from Maastricht University.

Veronica Manfredi, the Director for Quality of Life in DG Environment is with her Directorate responsible for key EU policies for Clean and Well-Managed Water (including the protection of all EU Freshwater and Marine environments, water reuse, prevention from Floods, compliance with high health standards for Drinking Water), Clean Air, control on Industrial Emissions and prevention of Industrial Accidents.

Steven N. Schonberger is Regional Director for the World Bank Group’s Sustainable Development Department for the Europe and Central Asia (ECA) region and his current professional focus includes exploring ways to promote the transition towards sustainability through moving to a circular economy approach and the required policy, institutional, financing and technological innovations.

Day 2

Sofia Kilifi is Sustainability and Community Manager Coca Cola European Partners. At the conference she will describe the relevance of rivers and wetlands to Coca Cola and other businesses and the company's new global freshwater strategy.

Joakim Harlin is a water resources and international development professional, manager and leader.In his current position heading up both the Freshwater Unit of UN Environment and the UNEP-DHI Centre on Water & Environment he is responsible for the overall coordination and implementation of global policy and programmes guided by UNEP’s Freshwater Strategy.

Darío Soto-Abril is the Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Global Water Partnership.

tbc French Agency for Biodiversity (OFB)

More information about the European River Symposium can be found on the website of the European Centre for River Restoration.

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