United in Support of Water for All on International Day of Action for Rivers

GRPC Statement on International Day of Action for Rivers

March 14th, 2024

We celebrate the International Day of Action for Rivers as enthusiastic, committed social and environmental scientists, educators, researchers, conservation advocates, and policy experts. We urge colleagues at jurisdiction-based agencies, not-for-profit organizations, and outdoor industry trade organizations to support this year’s campaign, ‘Water for All,’ highlighting how critical access to water is in all our lives.

This annual day of observance is dedicated to solidarity. It is a time when diverse communities worldwide come together with one voice to say that rivers matter, communities having access to clean and flowing water matter, and everyone should have a say in decisions that affect their water and their lives. It’s our time to stand up for these rights, now more than ever.

This year celebrates the 27th anniversary of this Day for Rivers. Civilizations grew up around rivers, and they are central to our lives and the survival of life on earth. Although freshwater ecosystems are so vital, they are the most threatened in the world – showing an 83% decline since 1970, which is twice the rate experienced by terrestrial or marine ecosystems. Our rivers need our help and our actions.

Protecting our rivers includes the right to access information, participate in decision-making processes, and access justice and effective remedies without fear of retaliation. Achieving this right necessitates international cooperation, solidarity, and equitable environmental actions, including adequate resource allocation. States are also responsible for preventing their activities from causing environmental harm globally.

Only ⅓ of the world’s rivers longer than 1,000 km remain free-flowing as a result of dam development and other infrastructure. Fragmentation disrupts the flow of water and nutrient-rich sediments, impedes the migration and reproduction of aquatic and riparian species, and can have far-reaching consequences on both freshwater and marine environments. In just 40 years, 83% of the world’s freshwater mammal, bird, fish, reptile, and amphibian populations have declined, while 76% of migratory freshwater fish have been lost. Moreover, the construction of dams can have dire consequences for local communities, and the actual social-environmental costs of dams are rarely evaluated beforehand. According to the World Commission on Dams, large dams have forced 40-80 million people from their lands over the past 60 years.

Founded in 2020, the Global River Protection Coalition’s mission is to advance the creation of global free-flowing river conservation policies to protect and restore riverine connectivity, biodiversity, and other associated ecosystem services. We are composed of scientists, academics, advocates, and conservation practitioners from around the globe.

Please count on the Global River Protection Coalition as an ally and call on us to support the actions agreed upon during the International Day of Action for Rivers initiatives.

Shannon Farley
Co-Executive Director, Rivers and Forests Alliance (RAFA), Costa Rica

Dr. Denielle Perry
Co-chair, Global River Protection Coalition
Associate Professor; Director, Free-flowing Rivers Lab, Northern Arizona University School of Earth and Sustainability, United States

Vanessa Correa Roldán, MSc.
Co-Chair, Global River Protection Coalition
Board member, Amazon Waters Alliance
Researcher, Museum of Natural History, Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, Peru

Dr. Sergio Salinas Rodríguez
Co-Chair for Latin American Region, Global River Protection Coalition
Associate Professor, The Southern Border College, Mexico

Sharon Ruthia
Co-Chair for East Africa Region, Global River Protection Coalition
Blue Economy Youth International, Kenya

Risa Shimoda
Co-Chair for North America Region, Global River Protection Coalition,United States
Executive Director, River Management Society
Chair, Competition Council, American Canoe Association Board of Directors
Chair, World River Center/International Whitewater Hall of Fame

Dr. Emily Hite
Co-Chair for North America Region, Global River Protection Coalition
Assistant Professor , Anthropology, Saint Louis University, United States

Esther Netshivhongweni
Co-Chair Southern Africa Region Global River Protection Coalition, South Africa
Chair of African Community Conservationists-NPO
Chair of the Biodiversity Credit Alliance Community Advisory Panel

Olga Laiza Kupika
Co-chair Africa Region Global River Protection Coalition
Senior Research fellow, Okavango Research Institute, University of Botswana; Zimbabwe

Justice Zvaita-Co-Chair
GRPC Africa Region, Uganda
Founding Director, Centre for Climatology and Applied Research

Michael Fiebig
Director of River Protection, Southwest U.S.
American Rivers, United States

Monti Aguirre
Latin America Program Director/River Protection Lead, International Rivers, Columbia/United States

Ian Harrison
IUCN-SSC Freshwater Conservation Committee Co-Chair, United States

Madeline Kiser
Living Rivers Movement, Costa Rica

Oscar Beita
Living Rivers Movement, Costa Rica

Angie Fuhrmann
River Training Center Coordinator, River Management Society

Silvia López-Casas
Freshwater Specialist for Wildlife Conservation Society at the Andes, Amazon and Orinoco Region,
Ecuador

Constanza Prieto Figelist
Latin America Legal Director
Earth Law Center

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