Pure Water for Generations – an interview with Pascal Roesler
Last summer Pascal Roesler, a former businessman from Munich who is now director of the non-profit group “Pure Water for Generations’, paddled almost the whole length of the Danube until its estuary in the Black Sea. His journey of 2,467 km and 63 days on the water was for a good cause – to raise both money and awareness for our most precious of resources: water. We caught up with him recently to see how things have changed for him in the last twelve months and what he has been up to recently.
Danube Watch: What progress do you think has been made since the start of your epic journey one year ago?
When I completed my journey on the stand-up paddle board from Munich to the Black Sea on July 20, 2017, I was simply thinking about one stroke of the paddle at a time. I wanted to feel the river, meet the people of the Danube and just live for the moment. I wanted to completely absorb myself in the process of a journey along this amazing river.
Along the way I became even more aware of the importance of our water and how the cycle of water and the cycle of life are actually one and the same. I wanted everyone to share my experiences. Luckily, I was accompanied by a camera team on 20 of the 63 days and we therefore decided to make a film of the journey. I am very grateful for that and on February 8, 2018, the film's premiere, entitled 2467km - A Journey to the Black Sea, took place in Munich in front of 370 guests. People keep telling me just how awesome they find the movie and this gives me a great deal of positive energy.
Some schools became aware of my project and in July 2018 we had water days at two schools in Bavaria - one on the Tegernsee and the other on the Danube - with a total of 250 young people. First we showed the film and then we went to the water and paddled together on stand-up paddle boards. Many more such water days are planned for schools in Germany in 2019.
Another great project was born out of the inspiration of the film. A Friend of mine André Wacke, who is also an avid stand-up paddler, was inspired by the film and organised a beach-cleaning event at his home on the River Loisach with stand-up paddle boards. 15 stand-up paddlers cleared plastic from a 5 kilometer stretch of the river, collecting 13 large rubbish sacks full of plastic and other waste. The local press and Bavarian television even reported it and over 50,000 people saw the article online. Who would have thought this possible a year ago?
Last but not least, the idea for a tour of the River Salzach came about as a result of the film tour. The Salzach begins its jouney at an altitude of 2,300 meters in the Kitzbuehl Alps in Tirol and flows for 225 kilometers before flowing into the River Inn, which in turn then flows through Passau and into the Danube. We started the Salzach tour this month on September 2 and ended on September 9, 2018, accompanied by 35 fellow stand-up paddlers.
Danube Watch: As soon as you became familiar with the work of the ICPDR, you immediately offered to cooperate with us. What do you find inspiring about our work?
What inspired me from my very first meeting with the ICPDR at the UN in Vienna on July 31, 2017 was your enthusiasm and respect for the Danube across all national borders. I felt the importance of seeing things from a broader perspective. The Danube is a perfect example of this as it makes its way through ten countries, and shares a basin with 14 countries paying absolutely no heed to borders. To observe this philosophy in your daily work is something very special and shows how important it is to consider the overall picture: in other words, the 2,857 river kilometres from Donaueschingen in the Black Forest to Sulina on the Black Sea.
Danube Watch: What are your aims and plans for the future? For example, what do you hoped to have achieved in twenty five years time from now?
During my 63 days on the Danube, I had a great deal of time to think about things. I have a vision, more of a dream: I want to help to make the Danube water drinkable within 25 years. By drinkable I mean that it’s possible to take a few sips of water from the Danube without it being harmful to your health. This may be a very utopian vision, but one I still allow myself to dream.
In the end, it is up to all of us to find a way of becoming more aware of our daily actions, to consume less and live a life in harmony with nature. My experience in my working life has clearly shown me that having a wide-ranging vision is the most important thing if change is to happen. I don’t yet know yet what the road ahead will bring.
Only one thing is certain: if we conduct ourselves in the same way as the Danube: living in harmony with the flow and the currents, then I am sure that we are on the right track.
I would like to share a personal afterthought with Danube Watch readers. After my voyage, my mother told me that my grandfather had made a river trip on the Danube in 1969 with the city council of Dillingen (Bavaria on the Danube where I grew up).
The journey was filmed and shown in Dillingen in the same year. After a long search, we have now found the film reels and in the next few weeks I will watch the movie with my family and friends. My grandfather's journey almost 50 years after my own journey. Panta rhei!*