What is Riverwalk all about?
“Riverwalk” is a powerful life-changing experience for young people who want to discover and protect rivers and have an intense cross-cultural experience but it is also a project that sends a clear message: while there is a need for renewable energy, it cannot come at all costs. With the number of free-flowing, wild rivers in Europe dwindling, it is critical to protect the most intact and ecologically important ones left.
During the past, the Riverwalk projects (2014, 2015 and 2016) have always had a strong focus on wild, free-flowing rivers. Riverwalk 2017 will draw attention to the Inn river, often referred to as “the lifeline” of the Alps, which has been almost entirely straightened, dammed and thus degraded over the past decades. According to a study by WWF, only ca. 1% of the entire river is still in its original shape. While 24 hydropower plants had caused the decline of the river´s bed load and biodiversity, several renaturation initiatives have been trying to preserve the flora and fauna in the wetlands.
Riverwalk’s objectives are to develop participants’ personal connection to nature and rivers, explore topics of renewable energy, nature conservation, sustainability and eco-tourism, as well as develop competences such as leadership, team building, project management and active citizenship. At the same time, participants are invited to learn how to live and work together with youth from different backgrounds, resolve conflicts in a productive manner, and co-create a supportive, participatory, open-minded, communicative atmosphere and thus improve intercultural understanding.
Riverwalk 2017 will bring together 21 young adults from Switzerland, Austria and Germany to hike, bike and raft for three weeks all the way from the spring to the mouth of the Inn and explore sustainable development opportunities along the longest river of the Alps.
Given all this, WWF and many other local and regional partners are actively trying to protect the wetlands which serve as both conservation and recreation areas.
Through Riverwalk, which targets motivated young adults/leaders (15-30 years old), we combine all this into an exciting project that aims to increase awareness of the importance of free-flowing rivers, develop participants’ leadership skills, expand a growing international network of young environmental leaders, and form personal connections to unique and threatened river systems.
Riverwalk 2017 at a glance
Will be the 4th Riverwalk to date:
- Austria-Slovenia (2014)
- Italy-Slovenia (2015)
- Albania (2016)
- Switzerland, Austria, Germany (2017)
Aim: to discover and protect the last intact wetlands along the Inn and support local initiatives for renaturation
3 partner countries: Austria, Switzerland, Germany
3 week “mobile” action: hiking, biking, rafting, awareness raising activities, actions – media events
Target group: 21 young people, aged 15-30 (average age is about 22)
Impact: High use of media and online communication to raise awareness
This project will raise awareness of the importance of protecting free-flowing rivers, explore topics such as balancing renewable energy development and nature protection and living more sustainable, energy saving lifestyles. It will develop a core of motivated and active young adults who are willing to take action for river conservation, increase international cooperation and cultural understanding and support the participants’ personal development and connection to the issues and regions.
- Number/makeup of participants: 21 young adults (15-30 years old) from Austria, Albania, Italy and Slovenia
- Distance of journey: 517 kilometers along the Inn river from Maloja (Switzerland) to Passau (Germany)
- Dates of journey: 14 July – 6 August 2017