The practical case study of the St. Lawrence central to the international observatory's discussions on Initiatives for the Future of Great Rivers (IFGR)

The Port of Montreal, proud host of this international gathering

MONTREAL, April 21, 2016 /CNW Telbec/ - Following the second session of Initiatives for the Future of Great Rivers (IFGR)), held from April 18 to 20 at the headquarters of the Montreal Port Authority (MPA), Erik Orsenna, economist, writer, member of the Académie Française, expert in sustainable development, the environment, agriculture and emerging economies, and President of this multidisciplinary international observatory created by Compagnie Nationale du Rhône (CNR), presented work summaries that showed the plurality of uses of a river and their necessary acceptability in a controlled risk culture, and in a context where new energy models are emerging around rivers. The study on the Port of Montreal within the St. Lawrence / Great Lakes system was the focal point of the exchanges.  

"Through this international gathering of great importance, we are pleased to have been able to help bring a multidisciplinary perspective on the St. Lawrence River, which connects the Port of Montreal to all the continents and more than 140 countries," said Sylvie Vachon, President and CEO of the MPA. "The themes that the MPA proposed to IFGR members were brilliantly dealt with. The expertise and informed view of members will guide us to take better actions to safeguard the sustainability of the river that we depend on so much."

Speaking on behalf of the rivers in the international debate on the fight against climate change and making society aware of the role, the place and the vision of the river of tomorrow

While the river is one of the resources most affected by climate change, it is also a tremendous lever for action by being a reservoir of fresh water, a source for the production of renewable energy, an environmentally-friendly and cost-effective means of transportation, and a vector in territorial development. For this, it is necessary to get river managers to dialogue among each other, share good practices for sound management of this resource and define the river of tomorrow. This is the role of IFGR, which met for its second session in Montreal.

The practical case study of the St. Lawrence and workshops on risk culture and new energy models

Nine rivers represented, institutional representatives (from Voies Navigables de France representing France's waterways, Hidrovia representing a South American seaway, and the Organisation pour la Mise en Valeur du fleuve Sénégal representing development of the Senegal River) and experts (economists, historians, archaeologists, governance experts, virologists, etc.) worked initially on the practical case study of the St. Lawrence focussing on two issues:

  • What collective strategy for the river of tomorrow (adaptive management of the resource)?
  • How to facilitate acceptance by all stakeholders of a port's expansion on its territory?

In addition, two workshops were held, one on a population's capacity to adapt to changes in the river (social resilience and risk culture), and the other, on new energy models around the river. These workshops cover the four areas of study that guide IFGR's ongoing work: pedagogy on risk and memory (flooding and high water), social acceptability of projects around the river, a frame of reference for good governance of rivers (dialogue between the upstream and the downstream), and new energy models and their integration in the field.

Works shared among stakeholders of the Port of Montreal and St. Lawrence Valley

IFGR wanted to share the findings of its second session with stakeholders of the Port of Montreal and the St. Lawrence Valley. Several elected officials, municipal representatives, environmental and marine organizations, and representatives of educational institutions attended this summary and took cognizance of the elements of reflection in the debates. The definitive findings will be available in the coming weeks on the IFGR website. 

Upcoming session in October 2016 in Paraguay

Conceived around biannual gatherings, IFGR will hold its third session in October 2016 in Paraguay, focussing on the example of the Parana River in the region of the Italpu Dam Power Station, first in the world in terms of the cumulative quantity of energy produced and second in installed capacity.

Until then, IFGR will continue its work and keep meeting with other river managers: the Nile, the Yellow River and the Amazon.


Rivers are at the heart of today's climate and environmental issues. Faced with these challenges, "Initiatives for the Future of Great Rivers" aims to be an original high-level forum for discussions between river managers, institutional representatives and international experts (such as climatologists, economists and geographers). To anchor the debates in the actual reality of rivers, "Initiatives for the Future of Great Rivers," created in 2014 by CNR and presided over by Erik Orsenna, consists of several colleges: the college of the 14 permanent members, the Rivers Committee, the Steering Board, the Innovation Board, the Fab/Lab (for developing innovative projects with start-ups), and the college of doctoral students and trainees.

The first 14 rivers concerned:

  • Parana and Maroni in South America
  • Mississippi and St. Lawrence in North America
  • Nile and Senegal in Africa
  • Red River, Yellow River, Ganges and Mekong in Asia
  • Elbe, Danube, Volga and Rhône in Europe


Operated by the Montreal Port Authority (MPA), the Port of Montreal is a major diversified transshipment centre that handles all types of goods – containerized and non-containerized cargo, liquid bulk and dry bulk. It is a leading container port served by the largest container shipping lines in the world. In 2015, the Port of Montreal handled 32 million tonnes of cargo and welcomed 91,000 passengers and crewmembers at its cruise terminal. It has its own rail network directly dockside. It is connected to the two national rail networks and a highway system. Port activity supports 16,000 jobs and generates $2.1 billion in economic spin-offs annually.


The CNR (Compagnie Nationale du Rhône) is France's leading producer of 100% renewable energy and the multi-purpose distributor from the Rhone on the Swiss border to the Mediterranean Sea: hydroelectric power production, shipping deployment and port zones, irrigation and other agricultural uses.  It produces more than 15 TWh annually from its hydraulic, aeolian and photovoltaic mix.  An energy supplier expert in optimizing intermittent energy sources, CNR masters the entire value chain and plays a major role on European electricity markets.  With strong expertise in hydropower and river engineering, CNR provides studies and assistance to contracting authorities worldwide to develop rivers in all their dimensions. Acting for sustainable development of Rhone territory is an integral part of its development model, based on the   redistribution of part of the added value created in the territories where the power was generated. For more than 10 years, its General Interest Missions, developed in consultation with stakeholders, strengthen this close tie. 



For further information: Mélanie Nadeau, Director of Communications, Montreal Port Authority,, Phone: 514 283-1385;; Sylvain Colas, Director of Communications, Compagnie Nationale du Rhône,, Phone: +33 (0)4 72 00 69 05, Mobile: +33 (0)6 08 23 56 60;; Bertrand Porquet, Initiatives for the Future of Great Rivers, Phone: +33 (0)4 72 00 18 25, Mobile: +33 (0)6 75 07 42 44,


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