CNR model

An international exchange place to think the river of tomorrow

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 (rivers committee) 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 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.

Our actions

Academic projects : IFGR intends to improve knowledge of rivers, by receiving PhD students and through partnerships with the academic world. These works will fuel the reflections of the Rivers Committee.

Pedagogic projects : IFGR has given itself the mission of making the public aware and teaching it about the stakes of rivers through publications and by carrying out actions in primary and secondary schools and universities in France and abroad.

Entrepreneurial projects : IFGR is positioned with innovation in mind and proposes that start-ups join in its reflections in view to developing new activities and innovative 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 

  • Conclusions of the 2nd session

  • Conclusions of the 3rd session


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