Hosted on the banks of the River Test on 13th June, The UK River Summit aimed to offer the public insight into the expert voices behind the headlines, and the chance for campaigners, advocates, and conservationists to unify. A panel of speakers discussed various topics across water scarcity, agricultural and sewage pollution, regulators missing in action, the environmental impacts of industrial practices in the countryside, and much more followed by a Q&A session with the audience.
Speakers included Jim Murray Actor and Founder of Activist Anglers, Penny Gane Head of Practice at Fish Legal, Gail Davies-Walsh CEO Afonydd Cymru, Jamie Cook CEO of Angling Trust, Nick Measham CEO of WildFish, Dylan Roberts Head of Fisheries Game Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), and Mike Blackmore Director of Operations Wessex Rivers Trust.
Jim Murray, Actor from Netflix’s The Crown, said “We [anglers] are first to report pollution or abuse of our waterways. But we need to let non-anglers know too. We need to stand up and be heard, ultimately by government and those in power in order to effect real change.”
Speaking about the Regulators ‘Missing in Action’, Penny Gane, Head of Practice at Fish Legal, said “Regulators need to step up, or step aside. I went to [a meeting] with some of the Environment Agency top brass… where one of them said that ‘if we have to prosecute someone, we feel as if we have failed’, which I thought was quite astonishing and completely the opposite approach to what we see in failure.”
Director of Zambuni Communications, Claire Zambuni, facilitated the discussion panel. Claire has been a pioneer and leading figure in environmental communications. She has taken her 35 years of experience in communications and events and manifested her drive into the business which now focusses on championing environmental lawyers, introducing people to fly-fishing, wild food, conservation, and more. Zambuni Communications have gone one step further than any communications business in creating their own events to express their values and communicate these to a wider audience.
Claire Zambuni, Founder of The UK River Summit said, “We are proud to have gathered river people from all different walks of life and professions at the first UK River Summit. Being at the heart of the water quality debate in everything we do, we saw this as a valuable opportunity to open up a critical discussion to a wider audience. With the public’s frustration often coming to social media, we wanted to not only facilitate lively debate but also collaborative discussion among different stakeholders, all of whom have a passion for our waterways. We invited the public to learn first-hand the issues our rivers are facing and distill our anger to make a positive change.”
Guests were provided with a wild food riverside lunch by Nick Weston and his team at Hunter Gather Cook, a bar by Lakedown Brewing Company, and an afternoon on the river test with workshops from event partners Swarovski Optics, Wessex Rivers Trust and Orvis UK.
The River Summit & Festival 2022 took place in France last year, welcomed a panel of international speakers to universally discuss the state of our waterways, and has now made its way to a UK audience to open the conversation up to the wider public and address the need to work together towards a more positive future and direction for our rivers.