01 Oct The First Hybrid Riversymposium
2021 was a year that saw the continued disruption of the global pandemic, and in response to the challenges posed, IRF reconfigured our approach to hosting the 24th International Riversymposium as a hybrid format for the first time in the event’s history. The result? An innovative event that saw the total of 49, 799 hours of content streamed across 47 sessions over 3 days to a global audience. The boundaries to share and learn from each other ceased to exist. This was made possible with the collaborative efforts of our digital partners, Iconic Live, and our venue partners, the University of Queensland (UQ) to provide a unique global forum for river champions to share knowledge and experiences.
Delegates were provided the opportunity to attend either in-person or online at our Brisbane venue, with in-person delegates welcomed during a network function in partnership with Alluvium, held at the exceptional UQ Art Museum. A significant highlight of our hybrid event structure was the innovative content creation process of both in-person and online delegate experiences. The 24th International Riversymposium took on the challenges posed by the global pandemic and set the precedent for future events; hybrid technologies will become an essential tool for sharing, collaborating, and connecting with each other.
Aligning with the 2021 event’s theme, the 1000+ Resilient Rivers Campaign was launched with the recognition of the Brisbane River as an inaugural member of the Collective. With the increasing threats of the global pandemic and climate change, it is imperative that we encourage and recognise river basins and their communities to proceed along their journey to river resilience.
The 24th International Riversymposium presented a diverse program including keynotes speakers, special sessions, panel discussions, networking events and speakers from an array of backgrounds and countries. Highlights included Diversity In Water (sponsored by our Gold Partner, Australia Water Partnership), the Emerging Water Professionals program, the Port of the Emerging Water Professionals program, and much more. We welcomed a diverse range of keynote speakers who shared their stories and experiences of managing waterways. The event’s hybrid format allowed audiences to gain insights from both in-person and virtual speakers, who stirred up interesting conversations and topics which carried throughout the whole event. A range of special sessions were also held in collaboration with our partners. The 2021 event saw the continuation of our popular Learn-Inspire-Transform sessions, as well as the introduction of two new formats: River Co-Lab and RiverPitch. The former offered collaborative approaches to designing sessions with partners around key areas of interest. The latter was made possible with our Platinum Partner, Brisbane City Council, bringing together river practitioners with investors and providing a great networking opportunity.
One of the most exciting events of the Riversymposium was the awarding of the Thiess International Riverprize – the world’s most prestigious environmental award – to the Thwake River at Makeuni Country in Kenya during the Celebrating Resilience Gala Dinner. We were more than fortunate to receive applications from several dedicated organisations across the globe, with the winner decided by a judging panel consisting of a group of independent experts. The announcement was live streamed via social media, showcasing the winner’s achievements to a global, digital audience.
The success of our 2021 Riversymposium has set the precedent for future events. We are excited to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the International Riversymposium in Vienna, Austria, which will also be live-streamed as a hybrid event. Delegates from all over the world are provided the opportunity to participate, partaking in an innovative event championing the Journey To Resilience, focusing on Communities, Climate and Biodiversity. We can’t wait to see you in 2022!