CNR model

World Observatory of Great Rivers

Backed by its experience as concessionary of the Rhone, CNR has set up a World Observatory, “Initiatives for the Future of Great Rivers”. It is a forum of debate to define the place of the river in tomorrow’s world.

The ambition of the World Observatory, “Initiatives for the Future of Great River”, founded in 2014 by CNR, is to provide an original arena of high level exchanges between river managers, institutional representatives (basin management organisations, national supervisory bodies) and international experts. The objective is to gather different points of view to fuel debates on energy transition and the emergence of a sustainable world.

Initiatives-optimiseGood practices and innovation

Meetings are scheduled to take place twice a year – one in Lyon, the other abroad – on concrete themes to promote the exchange of good practices. Placing emphasis on innovation, the observatory invited start-ups to join in its reflections.

Organisation in colleges

The Observatory is composed of several colleges.

  • The college of permanent members is chaired by Erik Orsenna. Around Elisabeth Ayrault, Chairwoman and CEO of CNR, it brings together international experts* :
  • Ricardo Alvarez : Coordinator of Hydrovia South America
  • Pascal Bourdeaux, Historian, Lecturer of the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (from Southeast Asia Religions)
  • Corinne Castel, archaeologist, CNRS, Director of the French-Syrian archaeological mission of Al-Rawda
  • Julien Clément : Anthropologist
  • Daniel Dagenais : Vice-Président of Operations, Port de Montréal
  • Katherine Daniell, Doctor and researcher at the Australian National University
  • Bernd Gundermann : Architect and Urban planner
  • Mozammel Haque : Managing Director of the Bangladesh Inland Water Transportation Authority
  • Kabiné Komara : : High Commissioner of the Organisation for the Development of the River Senegal
  • Mirdad Kazanji, director of the Pasteur Institute of French Guiana
  • Sergio Makrakis : Environmentalist
  • Ghislain de Marsily : Hydrologist, member of the Academy of Sciences
  • Tamsir Ndiaye : Director of the Général Société de Gestion du barrage de Diama
  • Marc Papinutti : Managing Director of Voies Navigables de France
  • Abdoulaye Seck : Minister of Agriculture and Riral Development of Senegal
  • Alfredo Sese : Technical Executive Secretary of the Rosario Stock Exchange
  • James Spalding Hellmers : Director of Itaipu Binacional
  • Viraphonh Viravong : Vice-Minister of Energy of Laos

(*on 1st September 2015)

  • The rivers committee is composed of institutional representatives of 14 rivers. Its members participate in the works as a function of the subjects dealt with.
  • The Steering Committee groups the representatives of CNR’s shareholders (Regional Council, Caisse des Dépôts and ENGIE) and Greater Lyon which contributes to the general orientation of the debates.
  • The Innovation Committee gathers representatives of the innovation departments of ENGIE, the Caisse des Dépôts and CNR. It participates in the works as auditor with the role of alerting the permanent members on innovative orientations emerging for rivers.
  • PhDs and trainees carry out research works that fuel the reflections of the permanent members of the Rivers Committee.
  • Le Fab/Lab groups start-ups whose activities are related to rivers and which can put forward innovative technologies and applications.
focus on

16 great rivers represented

This initial list will lengthen as a function of the themes dealt with:

  • South America: the Parana and the Maroni
  • North America: the Mississipi and the Saint-Laurent
  • Africa : the Nile and the Senegal
  • Asia: the Red River, the Yellow River, the Mekong, the Ganges, Brahmapoutre and Murray-Darling
  • Europe : the Elbe, the Danube, the Volga, the Rhone

ERIK ORSENNA, author and economist

A member of the French Academy,he is the author of a reference work L’Avenir de l’eau.

Although rivers are threatened, they are also a solution. Their rational use can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while providing the conditions needed for their restoration, by taking a global approach like that of CNR. That’s why the Observatory is open to all the knowhow relating to rivers, so that everyone, within their specialisation, can benefit from the contributions made by the others and that, together, we become aware of the real power of these allies in order to harness them better for the benefit of energy transition.


  • Initiatives for the Future of Great Rivers 


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