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Great River Cities of the World Symposium: Vibrant Rivers - Visionary Cities

Great River Cities’ COVID response

This 28 October online event aims to give insight into how the world’s Great River Cities are responding to the global pandemic. How are the emerging issues shaping river use today and what are the implication for the future? Full details available here.



The Port of London Authority (PLA) will bring together the first “Great River Cities of the World” Symposium in London, to discuss the future role of vibrant rivers in our cities.

The Symposium will be a unique event for the leaders of the World’s Great River Cities to come together and learn from each other, looking to tackle the common challenges that we will face over the next decade as we work to make the most of finite rivers in growing cities. 

The aim of the event is to equip leaders in the Great River Cities of the world to work better with multiple stakeholders to address challenges including finite river space, climate change and improving air quality. With an increasing global focus on climate and oceans through this year, including COP26 in Glasgow and a further World Ocean’s Forum, we believe 2020 is the right time to come together and collectively raise our game by learning from each other.

Coming together from diverse locations and learning from each other will enable each city to make speedy progress across key issues including:

  • Stewardship through partnership – what is the right team and leadership for waterways to thrive as river partnerships run across cities, ports, river authorities, communities, business and government?
  • Managing the mix – how do we make the most of a busy river where shipping, trade, logistics, transport, tourism, leisure, urbanism, and life-style can co-exist?
  • Nurturing the river environment - how do we manage the river so that life can flourish?  What is our response as climate change brings threats such as droughts, floods and tidal surges?




We will also look at how rivers are becoming centres of opportunity – busier rivers offering more jobs and demanding new skill.  How can rivers contribute to liveable cities, through their role in sport, culture, leisure, education, community and housing?  What smart technology can help us make more of our rivers; are rivers thoroughfares or barriers?  





We will be hosting the Symposium in the historic centre of London, a city founded because of its river over 2000 years ago.  The programme will provide ample opportunity to get afloat on the Thames, to see living examples of challenges and opportunity of river cities. 

The main conference hotel is the Double Tree Hilton; the event also includes an opening night dinner reception afloat on the Thames and a Gala Dinner in the Tower of London.

Each river-city is invited to bring a mixed team, embracing city authorities, river authorities, port authorities and other partners in river city management. 

Please check back to this web page periodically as the event agenda is shaped and finalised.