From Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean, around a hundred young people will cycle along the Rhône to mobilize for water

From Lake Geneva to the Mediterranean, around a hundred young people will cycle along the Rhône to mobilize for water

After a 2023 edition dedicated to energy, the Relais Jeunes runs along the Rhône, from Lake Geneva to Nice, to obtain information and put their ecological convictions into practice for the preservation of water. A sporting and solidarity challenge which begins this Wednesday, May 1, 2024.

It is a sporting and committed journey, which takes on its full meaning when you look at the itinerary. On Wednesday, May 1, several dozen young people will set off by bike from Lausanne, a city located on the edge of Lake Geneva in Switzerland, considered the water tower of Europe. They will reach Nice, by June 22, host of the third United Nations conference on the oceans which will be held a year later, in June 2025.

A bike route of more than 1,000 km which will run along the Rhône, celebrating the entire water cycle, from the glacier to the sea. And all this in 53 days, a number of measures contained in the Water plan, launched in March 2023 by the President of the Republic. “Emmanuel Macron wants to make 2025 the year of the oceans but we prefer to talk about the year of water. Because the sea begins in the mountains,” explains Vincent, member of Relais Jeunes, the association behind this project called “Cycl’Eau Tour”. A third mobilization which follows a 2023 edition focused on energy (“EnRJ’tour”).

Meeting the actors and sites linked to water

For two months, these young people – and not only since the oldest participant will be 63 years old! – will cycle around forty kilometers per day. Their free time will allow them to meet the actors involved in the defense of water, through varied activities throughout the journey.

To whet the appetite of future participants, during the launch evening on April 2, the organizers gave some more specific information: meeting with Valérie Paumier, speaker committed to the protection of mountain environments; exchange with the mayor of Brangues (Isère) on the issues linked to water in his municipality and the measures put in place to combat flooding; visit to the Géolide wastewater treatment plant with the Union Calanques Littoral association; screening-debate of the film The wheels of the future…

Every day brings its share of discoveries for young people, often already involved, but eager to meet citizens, associations, businesses and other workers mobilized on the issue. The adventure will take place over the entire course for some, and for a few stages for others. A maximum of forty cyclists will participate in each stage so that the logistics are bearable.

Don't give in to eco-anxiety

What most appeals to cyclists in this project is the highlighting of emerging local initiatives. “I learned a lot of things by interacting with actors and actresses from different territories,” explains Romane, 28, who was present during the EnRJ’tour, in 2023. “Participating in the daily life of eco-places allowed to strengthen my ecological convictions, allowing me to discover healthy and sustainable initiatives.”

This year, the team will be able to participate in the life of the Goettaz farm (Savoie), where the animals are fed exclusively with produce from the farm. Or the visit and participation in a construction site at the agroecological farm Les amanins (Drôme), created by Pierre Rabhi. “It’s up to us to seize and make flourish these hopeful projects which can be reused in other territories,” comments Flavie, member of Relais Jeunes. A great way to show that another sober and environmentally friendly lifestyle is possible while eco-anxiety affects more and more young people.

Making the voice of the river heard

Along the Rhône, the Relais Jeunes will support the Rhône Popular Assembly, an unprecedented citizen participatory approach.

In 2021, twenty-five residents of the Rhône watershed, both Swiss and French, were drawn. Together, they asked themselves the following question: how can we help the Rhône to make itself heard to defend its own interests, as well as those of its watershed and its ecosystems?

After three years of reflection, they developed a system aimed at establishing new cross-border governance, placing the interests of the river at the center of economic, social and ecological decisions in this watershed. They concluded that it was imperative to experiment with this governance as soon as possible in the territories linked to the Rhône.

An appeal which will therefore be carried by the Relais Jeunes throughout the cycling adventure, until their point of arrival: Nice. A year before the United Nations conference on the oceans, the association hopes that the appeal will be heard. The torchbearers of this sporting and committed challenge will launch a countdown: There will be one year remaining for the links between the ocean and all other forms of the water cycle to be taken into account within this summit.

Similar Posts