Francine Cousteau was invited as speaker for the inaugural forum of the Global Estuaries Forum, which brought together a cross-section of stakeholders, global leaders and innovators from business, government, academia and research and civil society with in depth knowledge on global estuaries. During three days (30 June to 02 July 2014), international speakers tackled the immediate concerns facing these crucial waters and set the stage for estuary protection and investment for decades to come.

The Association Estuaire de la Seine Territoire de L’Eau has assembled representatives from public institutions, the private sectorresearchers from the world of science and academia, and NGO’s to attend the forum.

Providing an essential habitat for 80 percent of the world’s fish and a vital buffer between land and water, estuaries are among the most productive environments on earth:

  • About 60 percent of the world’s population lives along estuaries and coastal areas
  • Of the 32 largest cities in the world, 22 are located on estuaries
  • 90 percent of Europe’s international trade passes through estuaries and their adjacent ports
  • Coastal recreation and tourism generate between $8-$12 billion per year in the United States alone
  • Often called the “nurseries of the sea,” estuaries provide vital nesting and feeding habitats for many aquatic plants and animals

For the first plenary session of the Forum, Francine Cousteau joined a panel of government officials, scientists and energy expertsin a dialogue to reconcile the economic and environmental stakes at play.

The expert panel also included:

  • Geoffrey Kent, Founder and Chairman, Abercombie & Kent; President, The Prince of Wales Foundation
  • Marc Lafosse, Municipal Counillor, Innovation and Industry, Bordeaux
  • Han Qunli, Executive Director of the Division of Ecological and Earth Sciences, Secretary of the Man and Biosphere Program, UNESCO

Mrs Cousteau took the example of the Danube River to illustrate the necessity to manage rivers as a whole river basin, from the source to the delta.