Alpine Rivers Symposium 2024

Alpine Rivers Symposium 2024

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2024 Alpine Rivers Symposium

Nature, culture and economy in the face of climate change

Date: 10 – 11 August 2024

Co-convenors: City of Burghausen, TUM Academy Center, Onewater gUG

The Alps, Europe’s water tower, contain an estimated 40% of the continent’s freshwater. Thousands of streams, brooks and rivers that originate in the Alps have formed the basis of a traditional cultural landscape and unique biodiversity for centuries. The more than 1000 hydroelectric power stations in the Alpine region provide electricity for millions of people and, in many places, are the basis for trade, agriculture and industry in addition to Alpine tourism. 

However, the Alps and their watercourses are changing rapidly. In the next few decades, it is predicted that 90% of the Alpine glaciers will melt completely. The snow and meltwater that is missing from the rivers is also missing from nature and us humans. Flora and fauna around rivers will change together with traditional cultural landscapes. This has an impact on the economy, especially tourism, electricity production, agriculture, for example in the Italian Po basin, and European inland navigation on the Rhine, Rhone and Danube.

Against this background, the first Alpine River Symposium focuses on the Alpine landscape in a broader sense and poses the following questions: What does a healthy Alpine river actually look like? How will Alpine rivers change in the coming years and how do we deal with this? Which developments can we actively influence, proactively avert, and to which must we learn to adapt? 

The 1000-year-old border town of Burghausen, whose prosperity and identity have always been closely linked to the Salzach, is inviting scientists and representatives from the 8 Alpine countries to exchange ideas at a two-day symposium. The symposium is open to the public and will take place in the TUM Academy Centre Raitenhaslach on the banks of the Salzach from August 10-11. 

Participants can present their work and highlight ways in which the Alpine regions can preserve healthy rivers and a natural environment whilst maintaining economic vitality. The symposium will provide an opportunity to discuss strategies for effectively addressing the challenges of climate change together with agriculture, industry and nature conservation. The aim is to discuss scenarios that ensure that Alpine rivers – exemplified by the Salzach – continue to flourish as living and biodiverse cultural landscapes.

In addition to the publicly accessible sessions in the TUM Academy Center, there will be a rich side program, including:

  • Film Screening and Discussions: At the Anker Cinema, there will be a film screening with music, a reception, and panel discussions centered on alpine rivers.
  • Water Day: Pascal Rößler from Pure Water for Generations will convene a “water day” and lead activities on the Wöhrsee lake and the Salzach River, including stand-up paddle boarding
  • Market & Educational Presentations: Organisations like German Alpine Association, the Bund Naturschutz, and sports clubs are invited to host booths and present topics related to the Alps and rivers.
  • Photo Exhibition: The Haus der Fotografie will display a photo exhibition from the UNESCO x Onewater photostory contest on “Water, peace and prosperity”.




SATURDAY, August 10

8:45 – 09:00 Welcome and Keynote
9:00 – 10:30 Plenary: Presentations & discussionThe state of alpine rivers: Nature, economy and EU policies
10:30 – 11:00 Coffee break
11:00 – 12:00 Plenary: Presentations & discussionVisual journey: What is an alpine river?
12:00 – 13:00 Plenary: Presentations & discussionThe Salzach River
13:00 – 14:30 Lunch and coffee
15:00 – 18:30 Excursion to Tittmoning – Transboundary river restoration site of the Salzach River, Onsite presentation of local water management authorities

  • Option 1 – Traditional boat ride (Plätte) on the Salzach River back to the historic centre of Burghausen (45 persons, 90 minutes)
  • Option 2 – For experienced stand-up paddlers: Paddle back on the Salzach River to the historic centre of Burghausen together with Pascal Rößler (20 persons, 90 minutes)
  • Option 3 – Return by bus to the Academy Centre or historic centre of Burghausen

19:00 – 20:30 Traditional beer garden in Burghausen’s historic centre, potentially with Oxford-style debate & pub quiz 


SUNDAY, August 11 

8:30 – 09:00 Welcome, summary of day 1 and keynote
9:00 – 10:30 Plenary: Presentations & discussionClimate change adaptation and restoration of rivers and riparian landscapes
10:30 – 11:00 Coffee break
11:00 – 12:30 Parallel sessions (full list to be finalised in mid-June)

  • EU Life projects
  • Groundwater
  • Glaciers
  • River commissions
  • Transboundary water management
  • Floods
  • Source-2-Sea

12:30 – 14:00 Lunch and coffee
14:00 – 15:30 Plenary: Presentations & discussionRights of nature? Our instruments to conserve and sustainably manage rivers and riparian landscapes.
15:30 – 16:00 Closing remarks
17:00 – 18:30 Closing with drinks in the pleasure garden of the TUM Academy Centre on the banks of the Salzach River



FRIDAY, August 9

19:00 – 20:00 Empfang: Live-Musik und Essen – Anker-Kino
20:00 – 22:00 Filmabend zu Alpenflüssen + Diskussion



FRIDAY, SATURDAY & SUNDAY, August 9, 10 and 11

10:00 – 18:00 Photo exhibition of the best entries in the UNESCO x Onewater photo competition at the Haus der Fotografie. Samples here:



SATURDAY & SUNDAY, August 10 and 11

10:30 – 17:00
Painting and craft workshop for children and young people (glass room)
Writing workshop: Letters to the Salzach, letters to the sea (glass room)
Film screening on the Alps and rivers every 60 minutes (workshop)
Market with stands from associations and other organizations (foyer or outside)
Photo exhibition on Alpine rivers (foyer)

Water day with Pascal Rößler
11:00 – 12:00 Ignite talk with movie
13:00 – 15:00 4 water stations

  • Station 1: Explore | Water as the basis of life
  • Station 2: Get active | Cleaning water
  • Station 3: Designing | creating water art
  • Station 4: Move | Mindfulness for yourself and the water

16:00 – 18:30 On and in the water: Feel the water: stand-up paddling on the Wöhrsee or for experienced paddlers on the Salzach (start in Tittmoning)

Training sessions, children’s program, workshops, lectures, tastings and demonstrations by various exhibitors (full list to be finalised in mid-June)

Additional Details

Name of contact person - Athénaïs Georges

Country - Germany

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Date And Time

2024-08-09 @ 18:00 (CEST) to
2024-08-11 @ 18:00 (CEST)

Event Types

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