29 September – 1 October
European rivers summit 2022
Brussels – Belgium
European rivers SUMMIT
Wetlands International Europe, EuroNatur, GEOTA, Riverwatch and WWF Adria invite you
to the third European Rivers Summit in Brussels, Belgium from 29 September to 1 October.
The European Rivers Summit aims to inspire a movement of connected citizens in Europe to protect and restore European rivers, fight new dams and remove obsolete barriers. Healthy rivers are essential to delivering the European Green Deal and we aim to connect river champions around Europe to policy-makers in Brussels, with a two-day conference plus a third day to visit a river restoration site.
The event will inform attendees on the most important policy issues, big ideas and latest science around healthy rivers, and engage directly with Brussels as the home of the European Commission and Parliament in defending healthy rivers for people across Europe. We will also explore the power of communicating about rivers in film and art and see the transformative power of restoring urban rivers.
Questions? E-mail us: firstname.lastname@example.org
More than 170 participants and 50 speakers helped strengthen and inspire the movement of citizens fighting for free-flowing rivers at the Summit! Discover some of the highlights on video thanks to Dmitry Lisenko, an independent activist and video maker, on his Youtube channel ‘Be Brave to Act’.
» 17.45 - 20.00 | Dam Busters – Restoring Europe’s Rivers - a policy discussion
WWF and MEP César Luena are organising a policy event on the restoration of free-flowing rivers in Europe, held in the European Parliament. The event will include the projection of the short movie “Dam Busters – Restoring Europe’s Rivers”. It will be followed by a panel discussion on the EU Nature Restoration Law and the need to include an ambitious framework for the restoration of free-flowing rivers, with distinguished speakers from the European Parliament and Member States. A cocktail reception will follow.
Please note that registration is now closed as the event is full.
Location: European Parliament
» 8:30 - 9:30 | Registration and coffee
» 09:30-10:45 | Intro & Keynotes
- Welcome by moderator – Yurena Lorenzo, Wetlands International Europe
- Joint Keynote address – Annette Spangenberg, EuroNatur & Ulli Eichelmann, Riverwatch on Saving the Blue Heart of Europe followed by Q & A – Slides Ulli Eichelmann
- Keynote address – MEP Marie Toussaint – Inspiring environmental activism and Rights for Nature followed by Q & A –
- Keynote address – Martin Ohse, Environment Brussels – Slides Martin Ohse
» 10:45-11:15 | Coffee And Networking Break
» 11:15-12:20 | The European Green Deal – policies and activism for rivers
- Bold Action Needed – The State of Europe’s Rivers – Claire Baffert, WWF EPO – Slides Claire Baffert
- Nature Restoration Law – New Opportunities for restoring rivers – Sergiy Moroz, European Environmental Bureau –
- The fight against hydropower in the context of the revision of the renewable energy directive – Marilena D’auria, EuroNatur – Slides Marilena D’auria
- The threats to rivers from transportation – Wouter Langhout, Frankfurt Zoological Society – Slides Wouter Langhout
- Panel moderator: Andrea Goltara, CIRF
» 12:20-13:15 | Human Rights and River Activism
- River activism around the world – Bonnie Barclay, International Rivers – Slides Bonnie Barclay
- Access to Justice – Ewa Dabrowska, ClientEarth – Slides Ewa Dabrowska
- Justyna Choroś, OTOP Polish Society for the Protection of Birds
- Neža Posnjak, Slovenian Native Fish Society – Slides Neža Posnjak
- Panel Moderator: Amelie Huber, EuroNatur
» 13:15-14:00 | LUNCH BREAK
- Lunch provided at the conference venue
» 14:00-14:05 | Attention Decision-Makers
Our Demands – Environment, Energy, Accession, Human Rights, Youth, Cornelia Wieser, Riverwatch – Slides Cornelia Wieser
» 14:05-14:35 | Fighting River and Coastal Pollution
- Gaëlle Haut, Surfrider Foundation Europe – Slides Gaëlle Haut
- Man-made pollution of the Oder River – a story of (un)loved river and social mourning – Ewa Leś, Coalition Clean Baltic – Slides Ewa Lés
» 14:35-15:30 | Anglers and outdoor allies fighting for rivers
- Christer Borg, Älvräddarnas Samorganisation (River Saver´s Association) – Slides Christer Borg
- Dan Yates, Save our Rivers – Slides Dan Yates
- Åsa Renman and Nils Harley Boisen, The Norwegian Biodiversity Network (Sabima) – Slides Åsa Renman and Nils Boisen
- Making people give a dam about rivers – Sampsa Vilhunen, WWF Finland – Slides Sampsa Vilhunen
» 15:30-16:00 | COFFEE & NETWORKING BREAK
» 16:00-17:00 | Your river – your fight. River activism around Europe
- Hydropower plant Komarnica Montenegro – Nina Pantović, Jelena Popović, Save Komarnica – Presentation Nina Pantović and Jelena Popović
- The struggle against small hydropower plants in Greece – Eleana Kazila, Greek rivers without barriers – Slides Eleana Kazila
- Mega-project Kaunertal in Austrian Alps – Bettina Urbanek, WWF Austria – Slides Bettina Urbanek
- Campaigning for Poland’s rivers: stop E40 waterway – Małgorzata Górska, OTOP Polish Society for the Protection of Birds – Slides Malgorzata Górska
- Resistance to expansion of inland waterways in Czech Republic – Vlastimil Karlík, ARNIKA – Slides Vlastimil Karlík
» 17:30 | BREAK
» 18:30-19:30 | Dinner
- Free pizza and drinks at Cinema Galeries!
» 19:30-22:00 | River Film Festival – #DamBusters World Premiere
The River Film Festival will feature the world premiere of “#DamBusters – The Start of the Riverlution”, followed by a question & answer session and cocktail reception
Location: Cinema Galeries in Central Brussels. Galerie de la Reine 28, 1000 Bruxelles.
How to go from the venue to the cinema:
By metro: walk for 10 minutes to the metro station Merode, take line 5 or 1 to Erasme/Gare de l’Ouest and get off at Centrale (5 stops). Walk for 5 minutes.
By foot: 40 minutes.
» 09:00 | Arrival
» 09:00-09:30 | Intro & Keynotes
- Day 2 Introduction by moderator – Yurena Lorenzo, Wetlands International Europe
- Keynote address – Saving the Loire, wild rivers and busting dams in France – Roberto Epple, European Rivers Network followed by Q & A – Slides Roberto Epple
» 09:30-10:30 | Youth Activism & Rivers
- Scientists for Rivers – Inspiring scientists, students, and river defenders – Vera Knook, the River Collective – Slides Vera Knook
- Alessandro Caretto, Youth for the Rhine – Slides Alessandro Caretto
- River youth activism in legal and political EU advocacy – Giulia Testa, Global Youth Biodiversity Network Europe – Slides Giulia Testa
- Besjana Guri, EcoAlbania
- Adela Baratech Sánchez, World Fish Migration Foundation
- Panel moderator: Lisa Ruston, Wetlands International Europe
» 10:30-11:30 | Funding and support for river restoration and protection
- An Introduction to the Endangered Landscapes Programme – David Thomas,
Endangered Landscapes Programme at the Cambridge Conservation Initiative – Slides David Thomas
- Beth Thoren, Patagonia – Slides Beth Thoren
- Funding and support for river restoration and protection – Federico de Filippi, European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency – Slides Federico de Filippi
» 11:35-11:55 | COFFEE & NETWORKING BREAK
» 11:55-12:55 | River Heroes & DamBusters – Promising Tools for River Activism
- Creating a movement – Dam Removal Europe – Pao Fernández Garrido, World Fish Migration Foundation – Slides Pao Fernández Garrido
- Lawyers for Rivers – Maja Pravuljac, ClientEarth – Slides Maja Pravuljac
- Success Stories in the Balkans – Dragana Mileusnic, The Nature Conservancy – Slides Dragana Mileusnic
» 12:55-13:35 | LUNCH BREAK
- Lunch provided at the conference venue
» 13:35-14:40 | Science-led initiatives for rivers
- The myth of clean hydropower – Gary Wockner, River Warrior – Slides Gary Wockner
- Trans-European Swimways Initiative – Heather Bond, Wetlands International Europe – Slides Heather Bond
- Restoring free flowing rivers: biodiversity conservation and adaptation to CC – Andrea Goltara, CIRF – Slides Andrea Goltara
- Diving into river open science! – River University – Ewa Leś, Coalition Clean Baltic – Slides Ewa Leś
» 14:40-15:30 | Celebrating our Successes - Permanent protection for Europe’s Rivers
- Transboundary river protection, Mura-Drava-Danube Biosphere Reserve – Ivana Korn Varga, WWF Adria – Slides Ivana Korn Varga
- Vjosa Wild River National Park, Albania – Besjana Guri, EcoAlbania – Slides Besjana Guri
- Banning small hydropower in Bosnia and Herzegovina – Suncica Kovacevic, Foundation Atelier for Community Transformation (ACT) – Slides Suncica Kovacevic
» 15:30-15:50 | COFFEE & NETWORKING BREAK
» 15:50-16:20 | Communicating the power of free-flowing rivers
- Danijel Lonĉar, Independent storyteller – Slides Danijel Lonĉar
- Rivers of people, people for rivers – Camila Kuncar, Iberian Centre For River Restoration (CIREF) and Caminar El Agua – Slides Camila Kuncar
» 16:20-17:20| MAVA Foundation Legacy for Mediterranean Rivers
- The Mediterranean Alliance for Wetlands – Lorena Segura, Tour du Valat – Slides Lorena Segura
- Transboundary Wild River National Park, Greece – Alexandra Pappa, MedINA – Slides Alexandra Pappa
- Protecting Rivers in Portugal – Catarina Miranda, GEOTA – Slides Catarina Miranda
- Introducing Wetlands 4 Mediterranean Resilience – Teresa Zuna, Wetlands International Europe – Slides Teresa Zuna
» 17:20-17:50 | Wrap up plenary discussion – The future of river activism, EU Policy and Our Demands
» 17:50-18:00 | Closing the Third European River Summit & Outlook
» 18:00 | End of Day 2
Join us for a drink!
» 18:30-22:00 | DINNER & ENTERTAINMENT
Dinner and drinks at the conference venue, followed by a performance by Oktaba Paradise Band
» 10:00 – 14:00 | Urban river restoration
MEET OUR SPEAKERS
Ulrich Eichelmann was born in Germany and lives since 1989 in Vienna/Austria. He is CEO of the NGO Riverwatch and is currently coordinating the international campaign Save the Blue Heart of Europe to save the Balkan rivers against the construction of about 3,500 hydropower plants.
Greek rivers without barriers
Eleana Kazila is an environmentalist and a freshwater ecologist from Greece. She works on projects about protected areas management and ecosystem conservation under the threat of human impacts. Also, part of her research focuses on intermittent streams, and rivers ecological quality assessment. At the same time, she carries out environmental education projects for kids and teens.
The last 10 years she has been part of various civic initiatives in Greece fighting against the installation of big wind energy infrastructure in ecologically important and protected areas.
She participates in this meeting representing the “Greek rivers without barriers” civic initiative founded this year together with other Greek activists, in order to address the serious threat of small hydropower plants to hundreds of free flowing mountainous rivers and streams in the country.
Cornelia has been working for Riverwatch since February 2013. Born in Austria, she studied International Development (with a focus on environmental issues) in Vancouver, Canada, and is particularly interested in habitat conservation, ecological equilibrium and true climate protection. She is responsible for public relations, project coordination, website and social media maintenance, translations, event planning as well as organizational issues. Currently, the focus of her work lies in the “Save the Blue Heart of Europe” campaign. For her work in the protection of Balkan rivers, she was awarded the second environmental prize “Trophée Terre de femmes 2019” by the Foundation Yves Rocher in La Gacilly, France.
Pao Fernández Garrido
World Fish Migration Foundation
Pao Fernández Garrido studied Forestry Engineering and got her Masters in Ecosystems Restoration. Later she got trained in USA on PIT and Radio telemetry, technical and naturalized fishways design and dam removal. She developed DRE along with Herman Wanningen, and coordinated WFMD events and the collection of the barrier inventories for AMBER.
The Nature Conservancy – TNC
Dragana Mileusnic is the Southeast Europe Program Director at The Nature Conservancy (TNC), where she advocates for renewable energy expansion fit for nature and local communities. Since 2018, she’s also leading TNC’s freshwater protection work in the region. Previously, she has been with the Brussels-based NGO coalition Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, as well as with a number of local non-profits from the Balkans. Originally from Belgrade, Serbia, she holds Master in Environmental Change and Management from University of Oxford.
Wetlands International Europe
Wetlands International Europe
WWF European Policy Office
Claire works as a Senior Policy Officer on freshwater for the WWF European Policy Office. Her background is in EU Politics and Administration. Before joining WWF, Claire has worked for several Brussels-based organisations on environmental policies and project management. She is French and has been living in Belgium for twelve years. Follow me on LinkedIn or Twitter.
Bonnie oversees International Rivers’ global communications working alongside the regional teams. She has over 20 years of experience working in environmental and social justice movements. Before joining International Rivers, she worked with Greenpeace, MoveOn, and the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. She also holds two Bachelor’s degrees from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in Wildlife, Fish, and Conservation Biology, and in Environmental Science & Policy concentrating in Watershed Management.
The River Collective
Vera finished her master’s in Hydraulic Engineering in 2017 and since has become active in the protection of rivers in the Balkans and the rest of the world. She co-founded the NGO River Collective with whom she organizes the yearly Students for Rivers Camp, bringing together university students from various disciplines, experts, river defenders, and artists. Currently, she also coordinates the Scientists for Balkan Rivers Network that is part of the Save the Blue Heart of Europe Campaign. This network recently met for a Science Week on the Neretva River in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Rios Livres GEOTA
Catarina Miranda has a degree in Biology (2005, University of Lisbon), a Master’s in Mathematics Applied to Biological Sciences (2008, Technical University of Lisbon) and a PhD in Natural Sciences (2014, Max-Planck Institute for Ornithology, University of Constance, Germany). She was a professor and researcher at the postgraduate degree in Biodiversity and Conservation at the Federal University of Maranhão, Brazil (2014-2018) and at the postgraduate degree in Neurosciences and Behaviour at the Federal University of Pará, Brazil (2018-Present). In 2021 she joined GEOTA, a Portuguese environmental NGO, as the coordinator of the Rios Livres project. She has always been fascinated by nature conservation, namely by strategies of ecosystems’ conservation in the face of human impacts.
Atelier For Community Transformation
Lejla Kusturica is a long-time activist who believes in solidarity, human potential, active local communities and the good in people. She worked as philanthropic, youth and an economic and women’s rights empowerment manager. She has launched “My-Hair-Your-Hair” initiative to raise awareness for children with cancer. She has also co-founded an arts foundation.
Director, Marine and freshwater environments, WWF Finland
Dr. Sampsa Vilhunen is leading a team of conservation officers that are among the most productive in Europe when it comes to river restoration and dam removals. In the last five years, WWF Finland has been involved already in the removal of 43 migration barriers, which has alone opened over 1000km of new free running rivers. These barrier removals have included everything from culverts to old mill dams, to active hydropower plants. Furthermore, the successful advocacy by WWF in Finland, resulted in historical entry in the national plan for Finland to remove dams from its rivers, to bring back migratory fish stocks.
This has meant that dam removal as a restoration measure has penetrated widely in the Finnish society, with more and more organizations now working for this common goal. Last year some 137 barrier removals were counted from Finland. Sampsa Vilhunen is not resting assured that the current pace is enough though but feels that there is still room for accelerating the removals of all ‘unnecessary dams’, as he likes to frame them.
Sampsa Vilhunen thinks that the challenge is immense, but so are also the opportunities. Bringing back aquatic environment that was once lost all across Europe because of unsustainable human development will be crucial not only from biodiversity perspective, but also for humankind.
Dr. Vilhunen studied ecology and aquatic sciences in Helsinki University as well Imperial College in London. His PhD concentrated on fish behavior. Sampsa is also a passionate fly-fisherman and spends a lot of his free time with rivers.
Italian Centre for River Restoration (CIRF)
Environmental engineer, he has worked as a researcher, in Canada and in Spain, in the field of advanced water treatment technologies. He has then concentrated his activity on topics related to sustainable water resources, river basin planning and management, freshwater ecology and in particular river restoration. Since 2007 he has been the managing director of the Italian Centre for River Restoration (CIRF), technical non-profit association advocating for a more nature-based approach in managing rivers in Italy and working at EU level in networks such as Wetlands International Europe.
His current activities, in Italy and abroad, are mainly focused on river hydromorphology, conservation of freshwater ecosystems, restoration of connectivity, development of synergies between Water Framework, Floods and Habitats directives.
Besjana Guri, is the communication officer at the environmental NGO EcoAlbania and coordinator of the “Save the Blue Heart of Europe Campaign” in Albania. Since 2014, she has been engaged in the protection of one of the last wild rivers in Europe – the Vjosa river. She was graduated in Social Science in 2012 and has a long experience (more than 9 years) in environmental projects.
Member, European Parliament, founder of Notre Affaire à tous
Marie Toussaint is a French environmental activist, jurist in international environmental law, and a co-founder of the association Notre affaire à tous, dedicated to promoting and reinforcing the international movement for the rights of the living and climate justice. Her association was at the origin of the l’Affaire du siècle campaign initiated in 2018 that successfully sued the French State for inaction in the fight against climate change. The associated petition gathered two million signatures in one month, the most-signed petition in the history of France.
She was first elected to the European Parliament in the Greens/EFA group in May 2019 and sits on the ITRE (energy, industry), ENVI (environment) and JURI (legal affairs) committees. She is the founder of the International Parliamentary Alliance for the recognition of ecocide, which aims to recognise ecocide at the international level to criminalise threats to the planet and human rights. She also advocates for a European Environmental Treaty to make climate, biodiversity and planetary limits the cornerstones of the European Union. This would ensure that no laws contrary to the environment could be adopted as all would be subject to the imperative of preserving the planet.
European Environmental Bureau
Sergiy leads the EEB’s work on the Water Framework Directive and coordinates the EEB’s involvement in efforts for a better implementation of the EU Nature Directives and the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020. Before joining EEB, Sergiy worked as a Policy Director for the European Water Partnership promoting uptake of water stewardship approaches, as well as for WWF on a range of projects from river restoration to advocacy for ambitious EU laws. Sergiy is originally from Ukraine and speaks Ukrainian, Russian, English, French and Dutch.
Frankfurt Zoological Society
Wouter works as a consultant for the Save Polesia campaign, coordinated by FZS. Since 2019 he has been involved in the fight to stop the E40 waterway through Poland, Belarus and Ukraine. As an expert on inland navigation and biodiversity, he has engaged with political decision-makers. Wouter has a good handle on the economics of transport and EU Transport Policy and has carried out a shadow cost-benefit analysis for the E40 in Poland.
He has a background in ecology and EU policy. In previous roles, Wouter has worked for the government of the Netherlands, BirdLife Europe and Central Asia and Natuurmonumenten. Wouter is originally from the Netherlands.
Save the Poudre, Save the Colorado and Save the World’s Rivers
Dr. Gary Wockner is a scientist, writer, and activist specializing in dam fighting and river protection. He directs and founded Save The Poudre, Save The Colorado, and Save The World’s Rivers which fight dams in his local watershed in Colorado, throughout the Southwest U.S., and across the planet. Gary has traveled to, and written stories about, water and river protection in over 25 countries. He’s been named a “River Hero”, a “Guardian of the River”, and an “Eco-Rockstar Impacting the Planet” by various organizations and publications. Gary is currently co-leading an international campaign to highlight how dams and reservoirs make climate change worse. More at GaryWockner.com
Bettina is the team leader of the hydropower work in WWF Austria. She works on the link between river protection, negative impacts of hydropower and nature-friendly energy transition. Currently, she is working on the campaign against the mega-project Kaunertal in the Austrian Alps – https://www.fluessevollerleben.at/kaunertal/declaration/ – that project would not just cause huge ecological damage but is also a symbol of wrong energy-policy in the climate crisis. She is convinced that with the actual energy crisis it is very important to bring the importance of river ecology, biodiversity loss, and the role of intact ecosystems in the climate crisis back and high on the Brussels agenda and on the national level. Her educational background is in water engineering, specialised in river ecology at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU).
Youth for the Rhine
Alessandro Caretto is a Civil Engineer, recently graduated from Polytechnic of Milan in the Masters’s CERM Programme (Civil Engineering for Risk Mitigation) and oriented toward the theme of Hydrogeological Risk Mitigation. Currently he is working in the laboratory ICube-SERTIT from University of Strasbourg, where he applies remote sensing techniques to monitor the extension of the water basins in the Grand-Est region of France. He is part of the Implementation Committee of Youth for the Rhine, a youth-led initiative intended to motivate younger generations across the Rhine Basin in thinking about and addressing one of Europe’s major societal issues:climate adaptation and the diverse issues of water, food, and energy.
Ivana Korn Varga
Ivana Korn Varga, Mura-Drava-Danube Biosphere Reserve Coordinator in WWF Adria, Eco-engineer by profession, highly motivated to create opportunities for holistic management of the first world’s 5-country UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Mura-Drava-Danube, the so-called Amazon of Europe. During 13 years in an international nature conservation setting, she contributed to the sustainable management of protected areas in the Western Balkans and for the last eight years, she is dedicated to Mura-Drava-Danube Initiative. Works on preparation and implementation of different projects while also working on the policy level, and advocates for sustainable management, restoration, and implementation of nature-based solutions. Aims toward a climate-resilient future where people live in harmony with nature.
Member, European Parliament
César Luena is a Spanish member of the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament since July 2019 and Vice-Chairman of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety. He is currently the rapporteur for the proposed Nature Restoration Law which is critical for Europe’s rivers. Previously, he was the Social Democrat representative for the Parliament’s resolution on the 15th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, where he advocated for a just ecological transition and environmental taxation as a solution to the current climate and environmental emergency. He was the rapporteur for the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030, where he advocated joint action to combat climate change and biodiversity loss, and he is responsible for the European Parliament resolution on the creation of Marine Protected Areas in the Antarctic Ocean.
He holds a PhD from the University of La Rioja in Spain and is an Associate Professor in the Department of Social Sciences at the University Carlos III in Madrid.
With an academic background in Environment and Resource Management (MSc) from the Vrije University Amsterdam and in Law (LL.B.) from the National & Kapodistrian University of Athens, Alexandra has extensive experience in project management on environmental and social projects as well as expertise in environmental education. She has been collaborating with MedINA since 2019, running the ‘Saving Europe’s last free-flowing river: Vjosa/Aoos’ project, supporting project implementation and development and acting as a focal point for policy issues.
An anthropologist by training and environmentalist by calling, Danijel is an experienced communications expert behind some of the most successful river-protection campaigns in the Balkans. He has been leading WWF Adria’s freshwater communications for four years, where he produced several documentaries and story features, including the film Luma, a poetic exploration of the relationship between the Valbona River and the people who live beside it.
Now working as an independent consultant, Danijel is exploring new ways of connecting people to rivers through storytelling.
Nina Pantović is from the ‘Save Komarnica’ Civic Initiative from Montenegro.
Born in 1997, she currently is an agricultural science student and an environmental activist since 2019.
She started with the 100.000 trees initiative from Organization KOD in Montenegro Podgorica. She is one of the few young people who decided to stay in their country and try and make it better for all citizens. The river of Komarnica is one of the last free-flowing and drinking-water rivers that has a beautiful strech between mountains.
Save Komarnica fight started two years ago when they started doing economic and ecological assesments of the construction of a HPP Komarnica. Along the way they have appealed to the Bern Convention Board and to the Government of Montenegro since Komarnica region is nominated for the EMERALD and Narura 2000 protected sites.
She works at the NGO Montenegrin Ecologists Society, in areas of biodiversity research and conservation. She spends a lot of time in the field, especially in the Montenegrin mountains where she researches Montenegrin flora and habitats. She first started thorough dendrochronology research in Montenegro, focusing on the Bosnian pine species. A big part of her work goes to translating the importance of nature to the people by using educational approaches and art.
Global Youth Biodiversity Network Europe
Giulia Testa is a young environmentalist from Italy. She is part of the Policy Team in the Global Youth Biodiversity Network (GYBN) Europe and Coordinator of the Nordic chapter of the organization. Among other activities, in GYBN Europe she co-authored a policy brief on freshwater ecosystems. Giulia is also Coordinator of the European Young Rewilders Network at Rewilding Europe and Coordinator of the Biodiversity Working Group of Generation Climate Europe (GCE), where she has led the youth advocacy project on the new EU Nature Restoration Law. She holds a master’s in environmental law and policy, with a specialization in biodiversity law and a master’s thesis on the integration of rewilding into EU law.
Maja works as a Legal Expert at ClientEarth Wildlife and Habitats Programme, where she focuses on hydro-energy projects and their impacts on rivers, species and habitats. In her work, she focuses on the protection of rivers in the Mediterranean basin (including Balkans) and works closely with other legal experts across Europe in ensuring compliance with the EU and international environmental law. Apart from her post at ClientEarth, Maja is also a member of the Grant Selection Panel at Open River Programme that supports projects that lead to the removal of small dams and the restoration of river flow and biodiversity across Europe.
Maja acquired her law degree in 2014 from the Faculty of Law, University of Banja Luka (Bosnia and Herzegovina), and in 2016, she graduated with distinction from the University of Strathclyde Law School, where she obtained her LLM degree in International Economic Law.
Surfrider Foundation Europe
Gaëlle Haut is European Affairs Project Manager at Surfrider Foundation Europe. Gaëlle previously worked for a consultancy and two NGOs in Spain and Canada, as a project assistant and a project and communication officer in support of European and local projects on environmental protection, political leadership, youth and innovation issues. Gaëlle holds a Master in International and European Studies from the Institute of political studies-Sciences Po Grenoble (France).
Surfrider is a non-profit organisation whose purpose is to protect the ocean, the coastline, all aquatic environments and their users. It was created in 1990 by a group of surfers who wanted to preserve their playground. Grass-roots activism to protect the ocean and coasts is at the core of the organisation. It currently has over 13,000 members and close to 50 volunteer-run branches active across 12 countries. For 30 years, Surfrider Foundation Europe has developed impactful programmes in three areas: marine litter, water quality and public health, coastal management and climate change. They take action to drastically reduce plastic waste, move away from fossil fuels, fight against climate change and its impacts, and stop marine pollution and the damage to the ocean and coasts through advocacy, European campaigns, awareness-raising and education, events and local mobilisations. More information on Surfrider Foundation Europe: www.surfrider.eu
Iberian Centre For River Restoration (CIREF) and Caminar El Agua
Camila is an architect and holds an MSc in Smart and Sustainable Cities. She is the Project Coordinator of the Iberian Centre for River Restoration and the Codirector of Caminar El Agua, an initiative that aims to reconnect citizens with their rivers using walking methodologies, technology and artistic performance while providing expert knowledge. She is also co-author of a podcast about the Manzanares river from Madrid (Caminar El Agua Podcast) and also works as a consultant in communication and education for the Spanish Tagus Basin Administration and the Botín Foundation. She has been a visiting professor at the University of Chile and the Metropolitan Technological University in Santiago de Chile where she taught urban planning using walking methodologies and cartographic data collection.
River Saver’s Association
Christer Borg is the president of Älvräddarna (River Saver’s association) since 2009 and now the Älvräddarnas Waterkeeper. He has worked exclusively with hydro power concerns since 2008. Älvräddarna acts as a unified voice for its 53 member associations on rivers throughout Sweden, lobbying at the parliament, meeting with cabinets in government, writing debate articles, hosting lectures, representing at national meetings, and much more. Christer is an expert in biological, electrical (both micro and macro scale knowledge of national electrical grid systems) and jurisdictional issues linked to hydropower operations. Christer, who lives by the river Ångermanälven in the middle of Sweden, spends a considerable amount of his time visiting members on rivers throughout Sweden. Christer is an avid angler and is very passionate about keeping Sweden’s waters fishable.
Älvräddarna is a member of the International Waterkeeper Alliance.
The Norwegian Biodiversity Network (Sabima)
Together with my colleague Nils Boisen I work as a water coordinator for The Norwegian Biodiversity Network (Sabima), The Norwegian Association for Outdoor Organisations, The Norwegian Association of Hunters and Anglers, WWF Norway, The Norwegian Trekking Association, and The Norwegian Society for the Conservation of Nature. We work on behalf of our organisations to ensure their effective public participation towards the EU water framework directive in Norwegian water management. I am currently investigating how well Norwegian hydropower actually adheres to the EU taxonomy criteria for sustainable investment. I have a master’s degree (MSc) in Agriculture from Sweden’s University of Agriculture with a major in soil science, focusing mainly on environmental and development studies, with a semester of environmental studies at the University of Aberdeen. I have also worked with course leadership in international development studies and with project coordination of an EU project in education for sustainable development.
Nils Harley Boisen
The Norwegian Biodiversity Network (Sabima)
Together with my colleague Åsa Renman I work as a water coordinator for The Norwegian Biodiversity Network (Sabima), The Norwegian Association for Outdoor Organisations, The Norwegian Association of Hunters and Anglers, WWF Norway, The Norwegian Trekking Association, and The Norwegian Society for the Conservation of Nature. We work on behalf of our organisations to ensure their effective public participation towards the EU water framework directive in Norwegian water management. I am currently investigating how Norway can improve its riparian zone management. I have a master’s degree (MSc) in ecology and nature management from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences with a major in tropical ecology, focusing mainly on nature friendly agriculture. The fieldwork for my master’s thesis was carried out in East Africa’s largest flood plain, in the Kilombero Valley in Tanzania. There, I studied how seasonal variations in food and financial security affected people’s dependence on wild resources. From 2012 to 2021, I worked for WWF as an Arctic advisor and as program coordinator for sustainable fisheries in the south-eastern Indian Ocean.
Tour du Valat
As a Project Leader of the Science and Society Department at Tour du Valat, Lorena coordinate and collaborate with various partnerships that include governmental, non-governmental and research institutions as members. Particularly, she coordinates the Mediterranean Alliance for Wetlands and the MAVA Foundation’s Coastal Wetlands Partnership.
The Mediterranean Alliance for Wetlands is a partnership arrangement between non-governmental organizations and research institutions dedicated to mobilizing civil society for the sustainable use of wetlands. It aims to jointly raise the profile of wetlands in Mediterranean society in national, regional and international policies by promoting their sustainable use, based on innovation and evidence-based best practices. It carries out advocacy actions through its “Red Alert System”, on the ground projects in different countries and training courses.
The M3 Wetlands Partnership is a group of 12 institutions working to protect coastal wetlands in the Mediterranean region. The partnership raises awareness of the critical role that coastal wetlands play as resilient nature-based solutions to climate change and advocates for more effective protection of these biodiversity- and culture-rich natural habitats. It applies knowledge developed at sites such as Ghar El Mehl in Tunisia, Ulcinj Salinas in Montenegro, Oristano in Sardinia, Buna in Albania, etc.
Her area of experience is in ecosystem services, nature-based solutions and sustainable planning. She participates in research, advocacy actions and multidisciplinary studies in different countries within the Mediterranean Wetland Observatory. The latter involves designing, identifying and communicating effective indicators and strategies to strengthen collaboration between civil society, governments and research institutions to jointly protect Mediterranean wetlands and the livelihoods of their inhabitants.
Vlastimil Karlík works for environmental NGOs since 1997. He focuses on issues of river and river landscape protection and restoration, and also biodiversity, including Natura 2000 network. He is a founding member and former chair of Arnika association, where he still works as a senior expert for river-related campaigns and projects. He also represents Arnika in Czech “Coalition for Rivers”, Czech “Coalition of NGOs for Natura 2000” and Czech-Polish-German coalition “Time to Oder”.
Beth Thoren is the Environmental Action & Initiatives Director, EMEA, Patagonia.
Beth is a respected environmental leader. Most recently, she has been instrumental in working with a coalition of NGOs to save the last wild rivers of Europe. In June 2022, the Albanian government took the historic step of signing a commitment to collaborate with Patagonia on the establishment of a Vjosa Wild River National Park.
Prior to ClientEarth, Beth spent four years at the UK’s largest nature conservation charity, the RSPB, as Director of Fundraising & Communications. A passionate defender of nature, she came to the NGO sector following a sabbatical spent as a crew member of the Sea Shepherd campaign ship, confronting trawlers and whale fisheries in Antarctica.
Beth grew up in Tokyo and, as a teenager, her love of oceans drove her to study marine engineering. She then went on to study a Masters in Business Administration and worked as a marketing director for nearly 10 years before moving into the environmental sector.
Cambridge Conservation Initiative
David Thomas is Director of the Endangered Landscapes Programme at the Cambridge Conservation Initiative (CCI). He has over 30 years’ experience as a conservationist both in the field and as programme manager. After graduating he worked at University College London and then Edinburgh University, exploring landscape-scale impacts of development in Tunisia (impacts of dams and drainage) and Belize (impacts of coastal tourism development). He later worked for IUCN providing technical advice on links between environment and local livelihoods at a floodplain wetland in northern Nigeria, before completing a PhD (Cambridge, Geography) and then joining BirdLife International in 1997. There he coordinated the different strands of BirdLife’s environment and sustainable development work and led on cross-cutting issues of conservation governance, equity, rights, poverty reduction, gender and indigenous peoples. He left BirdLife to take on his current job at CCI in 2017.
Coalition Clean Baltic (CCB)
Ewa Leś is the originator and founder of River University/Rzeczny Uniwersytet (2018) at Coalition Clean Baltic (CCB) where knowledge meets joy, by the river, of course.
She is a biologist by profession, looking toward people and their perception of the environment. Ewa is also the co-founder of Polish Koalicja Ratujmy Rzeki/Save The Rivers Coalition (KRR), a social & expert initiative for the protection of natural rivers in Poland (2016), an observer of the International Commission for the Protection of the Odra River against Pollution, co-creator and coordinator of the first Water Round Table in cooperation with the Polish Ministry of Environment (2009-2011). She was engaged in creating a Partnership for the Baltic initiative (2007- 2011), and actively works on a source-to-sea approach.For more than 15 years she has been working with freshwater ecosystems. In 2021 nominated for the Ashoka SHE SAYS program which supports women changemakers and social entrepreneurs. Currently, she is also an expert in water conservation and management in the UN Climate Leadership Program.
OTOP – the Polish Society for the Protection of Birds
Justyna Choroś is an advocacy and policy officer at the Polish Society for the Protection of Birds (BirdLife Poland), and a long-term employee of non-governmental organizations. She is a project coordinator, trainer and author of educational programs in the field of nature protection, environmental protection and sustainable development. She is also a water technology technician, a graduate of environmental protection and postgraduate studies: “Teacher of vocational education”, “Global development” and “Environmental protection law”.
Slovenian Native Fish Society
Neža Posnjak, is a geographer by education with a deep understanding of the complexity of the environment. Since 2014 she has been working with environmental NGOs to protect and restore free-flowing rivers in Slovenia and on the Balkans. Within the Save the Blue Heart of Europe campaign she coordinated opposition against construction of HPP on Sava river. She contributed to Balkan Rivers Tour awareness campaigns and in 2017 organised international Erasmus+ exchange for young river activists Wild Rivers Camp. She is a board member of Slovenian Native Fish Society, a watchdog organisation that is guarding the rule of law in procedures and developments affecting freshwater ecosystems in Slovenia. Since 2021 Neža has joined the World Fish Migration Foundation team to grow the Dam Removal Europe movement and scale up barrier removals to bring back free-flowing rivers.
Marilena D’auria works at EuroNatur office in Brussels as a policy and advocacy assistant. She has a master’s degree in International Relations and European Studies obtained at Cesare Alfieri University of Florence with a thesis on the Governance of the Energy Union and Climate Action. Thanks to her studies and work experience in environmental non-governmental organisations, she has developed a deep interest in environmental and energy policies and the interconnection between the two fields.
Ewa Dąbrowska is a Polish qualified lawyer (adwokat), working in Environmental Democracy Programme at ClientEarth. Her work includes strategic litigation and advocacy work in Eastern Europe in a broad scope of environmental matters, from clean air cases through wildlife to fossil fuels infrastructure. She focuses on procedural environmental rights under Aarhus Convention, ensuring transparency, access to information, public participation and access to justice, as well as enforcing EU law in this regard. She has experience as a litigating lawyer also in other areas of law, like criminal law and human rights at national and international level. In addition to her law studies, she holds also Master in Social Anthropology.
Save our Rivers
Dan is a passionate snowboarder, splitboarder, mountain biker, climber, and a poor but enthusiastic surfer. But most of his adult life has been spent as a whitewater kayaker & athlete.
He has paddled some of the remotest and hardest rivers across Europe, North and South America, Africa, and Asia over the last 25 years, with kayaking defining his love of the environment and his desire to protect it.
Dan has spent the last decade as an environmental ambassador for several outdoor brands and has been involved in the creation of 2 environmental NGOs. His activism has focused on engaging the outdoor community in the preservation of our last wild places, be they in the heart of the Himalayas or behind the local village
OTOP (Polish Society for the Protection of Birds)
Małgorzata Górska has been professionally involved in nature conservation for more than 20 years working with non-governmental environmental organisations, and has also served as vice-director of the Biebrza National Park. She currently coordinates nature conservation campaigns at the Polish Society for the Protection of Birds (BirdLife Poland), also in cooperation with Save Polesia partnership and Save Rivers Coalition. She is co-founder of the Greenmind Foundation and the Foundation for Biebrza. She is the European winner of the Goldman Prize (2010), known as the “ecological Nobel”. Her main focus is the protection of wetland habitats, mainly those of international importance.
Federico De Felippi
(CINEA) European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency
Federico De Filippi works as Project Advisor for the LIFE Programme managed by the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA).
In particular, he is part of the Circular Economy and Quality of life Sector and his Thematic Area is “Water quality and quantity”.
He has a Master degree in Environmental Science. Before joining the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) in 2019, he has worked as a consultant for the formulation and management of projects in the fields of climate change adaptation (in particular flood risk management), climate change mitigation, waste management and rural development. He also worked for three years as Project Officer in the Agriculture Sector for an NGO in Tanzania.
European Rivers Network
Rivers have been Roberto’s passion since childhood. So, nothing was more logical than to turn his passion into a professional activity. For decades, he has initiated and coordinated long-term river basin-related campaigns to save the Danube, Ebro, Guadalquivir, Loire, Elbe, and Rhine in partnership with international NGOs, in particular, the WWF international.
He mainly uses his experience and expertise as a river expert and communicator to create an efficient interface between politics, science and civil society.
As a result of a 10-year campaign, “Living Loire“ for the preservation of the wild River Loire, he was able to play a key role in the realization of the first Europe-wide removals of large dams.
To promote international cooperation among NGOs, he founded the European Rivers Network (ERN), which today is linked to many stakeholders in the 50 most important river basins on the European continent.
Amelie Huber is freshwater project manager at Euronatur Foundation, Germany, where she helps to coordinate legal and policy work for halting destructive hydropower development in Europe and supports the Save the Blue Heart of Europe campaign. Before that, she spent several years researching the social impacts and politics associated with hydropower conflicts in the Eastern Himalayas. She holds a PhD in Political Ecology from the Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technology of the Autonomous University of Barcelona.
Annette Spangenberg is the Head of Conservation at EuroNatur Foundation, Germany. Her focus is the protection of the last free-flowing rivers on the Balkan Peninsula and of primary and old-growth forests in Romania. Annette has been co-coordinating the campaign “Save the Blue Heart of Europe” since its start in 2011.
Wetlands International Europe
Teresa joined Wetlands International Europe in 2021 where she is leading a partnership focused on protecting river basins and minimising the threats to wetlands, in order to achieve a resilient society in the Mediterranean. Since 2012, she has had several positions in Wetlands International headquarters in which she used her experience in GIS and project management, offering solutions in order to guarantee sustainable development and resilient communities across Wetlands International programmes.
Prior to that, she was a Project Manager at the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO), a global network and verifier of social enterprises and cooperatives practising Fair Trade.
Previously, she worked as a GIS consultant developing land modelling solutions and several regional and municipal emergency management plans, promoting community resilience to natural hazards and collaborative emergency management planning, to different Portuguese authorities.
She is certified in Project Management and she holds a Master’s in GIS and Land Modelling from the University of Lisbon and a degree in Geography and Planning from the University of Minho, in Portugal.
The first European Rivers Summit was held in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2018 and the second in Lisbon, Portugal in 2021.
Celebrating free rivers, clean water and freshwater life
Join us 29 September for an evening of inspiring river films in the heart of Brussels at the atmospheric Cinema Galeries art house cinema, featuring the world premiere of the documentary “#DamBusters – The Start of the Riverlution”.
After the screening there will be a Question & Answer session with the director and several of the DamBusters in attendance, followed by a cocktail reception in the gallery space.
Check out the trailer and all the details of the film festival!
European Rivers Summit 2022
Venue: Le Bouche à Oreille
Address: 11 Rue Félix Hap, Etterbeek, 1040 Brussels, Belgium
Dates: 29 September morning until the 1st of October afternoon.
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