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Sunday, 28 September 2014

World Rivers Day 2014, September 28


‪‎世界河流日‬,
Всемирный день Реки‬,
‪‎Día Mundial de los Ríos‬,
Journée Mondiale des rivières‬,
World Rivers Day 2014‬,



World Rivers Day is a global celebration of the world's waterways, it highlights the many values of rivers and strives to increase public awareness while encouraging the improved stewardship of River basins around the world. World Rivers Day has been endorsed by various agencies of the United Nations is intended to complement the broader efforts of the United Nations Water for Life Decade.


Forum :   28 September is World Rivers Day.
We asked three questions:
a) what are the key pressures on and drivers of change in freshwater ecosystems, 
b) what are the most illustrative examples of these threats, and
c) what recommendations or solutions can we pose to address these threats?

Events :


 Prizes : Riverprize Judging Panels
Blue Line
The International RiverFoundation sincerely thanks our past and present judges for contributing their time and expertise. Please note that the final judging panels for the 2014 Riverprize round are yet to be confirmed.





 “What makes a river so restful to people is that it doesn’t have any doubt - it is sure to get
where it is going, and it doesn’t want to go anywhere else.”
 
 Hal Boyle, Pulitzer prize-winning columnist.


World's Top 10 Rivers at Risk.
The report, World's Top Rivers at Risk, lists the top ten rivers that are fast dying as a result of climate change, pollution and dams.

Five of the ten rivers listed in the report are in Asia alone. They are the Yangtze, Mekong, Salween, Ganges and Indus. Europe’s Danube, the Americas’ La Plata and Rio Grande/Rio Bravo, Africa’s Nile-Lake Victoria and Australia’s Murray-Darling also make the list.

The report calls on governments to better protect river flows and water allocations in order to safeguard habitats and people’s livelihoods.


The Danube River Basin

 The most multinational river basin in the world, the Danube basin is roughly twice the size of California and its basin covers part or all of 19 riparian countries: Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland and Ukraine, of which eight are EU member states (in italics) and two are EU accession countries. The river is a principle resource for industry, agriculture, transport and power generation (Environment for Europeans 2004). The Danube delta supports both fishing and tourism (FAO 2000b). Approximately 60 of its 300 tributaries are navigable including the Inn, Morava, Drava, Tisza, Sava and Prut (ICPDR 2006a). It is home to 47 cities18, and passes through four national capitals: Vienna (Austria), Bratislava (Slovakia), Budapest (Hungary), and Belgrade (Serbia) (WRI 2003).

The Ganges river basin
The Ganges river basin runs from the central Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal, and covers parts of Nepal, India, China and Bangladesh (Newby 1998; WRI 2003). The Ganges fl ows through northeastern India to the Bangladesh border, east-southeast 212 Km to its confl uence with Brahmaputra, and continues as the Padma River for another 100 Km to its confl uence with the Meghna River at Chandpur (Food & Agricultural Organization (FAO) 1997; FAO 1999). The basin occupies 30% of the land area of India (Revenga 1998; United States Central Intelligence Agency 2006) and is heavily populated, increasing in population density downstream to Bangladesh, the most densely populated country in the world (WRI 2003; Rashid & Kabir 1998). Approximately one in twelve people in the world (8%) live in its catchment area (Newby 1998). The cultural and economic signifi cance of the Ganges is enormous. The river is a centre of social and religious tradition (Adel 2001) and is particularly sacred in Hinduism.

The Indus river basin
The Indus river basin spans parts of four countries (Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and China) in an area that is more than 30% arid, and much drier than the nearby Ganges river basin (WRI 2003). The Indus River is critical for Pakistan’s 160 million people, and irrigates 80% of its 21.5 million ha of agricultural land (Rizvi 2001; CIA 2006a). The watershed is also an area of rich biodiversity, particularly where it opens to the Arabian Sea. The Indus river delta is a highly productive area for freshwater fauna and an important region for water birds (Ramsar Convention on Wetlands 2003). The Indus is home to 25 amphibian species and 147 fish species of which 22 are found nowhere else in the world. It harbors the endangered Indus River Dolphin, one of the world’s rarest mammals, with a population of no more than 1,100 individuals (WRI 2003; Ramsar Convention on Wetlands 2003; WWF 2005f). Due to reduced river infl ows, the delta has lost significant portions of its mangroves (WWF 2004).

 The La Plata basin is the second largest river basin in South America, crossing fi ve countries: Paraguay, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Bolivia (Bereciartua and Novillo 2002). The Rio de la Plata basin has three main tributaries, the Paraná, the Paraguay and the Uruguay Rivers. The Paraná tributary river basin supplies the Brazilian cities Sao Paolo and Brasilia (Hulme 1999). Although the Paraná basin alone supports 19 large cities of more than 100,000 people, the per capita water supply per person is ample (WRI 2003).

Freshwater biodiversity is rich. There are over 350 fi sh species– the third highest among medium sized basins (WRI 2003). Of these, 85 are found nowhere else in the world (Revenga et al. 2000). This basin is also home to the rare La Plata River Dolphin (Reeves et al. 2003), and the only species of lungfi sh found in the Neotropics, Lepidosiren paradoxa (WWF 2005d). La Plata’s Pantanal wetlands, located mostly in southwest Brazil but also extending to southeast Bolivia and northern Paraguay, are the largest freshwater wetland in the world, covering 140,000 Km2, and home to a vast array of wildlife (Bennett & Thorp no date; Living Lakes Partnership 2005). This biological diversity encompasses 650 species of birds - including parrots, hawks, eagles, kites, 260 species of fi sh, 90 species of reptiles, over 1,600 species of fl owering plants, and over 80 species of mammals - including ocelots, jaguars, and tapirs (Hulme 1999; Living Lakes Partnership 2005). Thousands of permanent and semi-permanent lakes and ponds supporting the most diverse floating aquatic plant community in the world cover the Pantanal’s lowest areas (Por 1995 in WWF 2001a). During the wet season, this wetland acts as a gigantic natural control mechanism for the floodwaters of the Paraguay River (Hulme 1999).

The Murray and Darling Rivers


 Despite these variable conditions, the Murray-Darling is home to abundant aquatic plant and animal life. In the Murray-Darling basin, there are around 30,000 wetlands, 12 of these are internationally recognized Ramsar sites (Australian Government 2005a). The basin is known for its diversity of crayfish and freshwater snails (Revenga et al. 2000; WRI 2003), and is home to 16 mammal and 35 bird species that are nationally endangered (Australian Government 2005a). Despite the relatively low number of endemic fish species (seven in total), it is home to fl agship species such as the Silver Perch, Freshwater Catfish and the large Murray Cod all of which are in rapid decline (WRI 2003; Barrett 2004).

The Mekong River Basin
The exceptional fishery in the Mekong River is based on the ecological boost provided by the annual wet season flood of its extensive floodplain, particularly the back flow of the river into the Tonle Sap Lake in Cambodia. The scale of this beneficial flooding and consequent fish harvest is threatened by the present and potential impoundment of floodwaters behind 58 existing and 149 proposed large dams, and by roads in the floodplains.

The Nile River -Lake Victoria Basin

 The Nile River-Lake Victoria basin falls within ten countries (Sudan, Ethiopia, Egypt, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea) (WRI 2003), and is roughly the size of India. The Nile is also the longest river on earth, and meanders through a watershed that is more than 30% arid (Encyclopedia Britannica 2006a; Revenga et al. 1998). The longer of two branches, the White Nile, extends from the mountains east of Lake Tanganyika, through Lake Victoria, to the Nile delta at the Mediterranean Sea (WWF 2001). The shorter branch, the Blue Nile, springs from the Ethiopian Highlands, joining the longer branch in central Sudan, and contributes the majority of water entering Egypt (WWF 2001)52The Nile River-Lake Victoria basin falls within ten countries (Sudan, Ethiopia, Egypt, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea) (WRI 2003), and is roughly the size of India. The Nile is also the longest river on earth, and meanders through a watershed that is more than 30% arid (Encyclopedia Britannica 2006a; Revenga et al. 1998). The longer of two branches, the White Nile, extends from the mountains east of Lake Tanganyika, through Lake Victoria, to the Nile delta at the Mediterranean Sea (WWF 2001). The shorter branch, the Blue Nile, springs from the Ethiopian Highlands, joining the longer branch in central Sudan, and contributes the majority of water entering Egypt (WWF 2001).

Rio Grande - Rio Bravo

 The second longest river in the United States, the Rio Grande flows from the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, south through New Mexico. Turning to the southeast, it forms the border between the United States (Texas) and Mexico for approximately two thirds of its course, opening into a small sandy delta at the Gulf of Mexico (United States Geological Service (USGS) no date; Horgan 1991; Saunders 1996). The basin is more than 30% arid and drains an area greater than the size of California (WRI 2003; Saunders 1996; Revenga et al. 1998). Through the stretch from Laredo/Nuevo Laredo to the mouth, the river constitutes the primary source of drinking water for communities in both Mexico and the United States (Saunders 1996). Despite the rapidly growing economy, the basin is one of the poorest regions in the US, where many live in shanties without access to running water (WWF 2004d). The basin is facing per capita water scarcity (WRI 2003), and by 2025, will likely descend into further water scarcity (Revenga et al. 2000). The Rio Grande basin is a globally important region for freshwater biodiversity (Revega et al. 2000). The Rio Grande supports 121 fi sh species, 69 of which are found nowhere else on the planet. There are three areas supporting endemic bird species as well as a very high level of mollusk diversity (Revenga et al. 1998; WRI 2003; Grommbridge & Jenkins 1998).
Salween, Nujiang or Nu River

The Salween river basin is more than twice the size of England, the second largest river basin in southeast Asia and one of the last free-fl owing international rivers in Asia5 (WWF 2005b;
Goichot 2006). Shared by China, Myanmar (formally Burma) and Thailand, 6 million people live in the Salween watershed and depend on the river for their livelihoods, dietary protein, and nutrient rich food particularly during the dry season (IRN 2004).

The Salween flows from the Tibetan Plateau adjacent to the Mekong and the Yangtze, in the “Three Parallel Rivers” World Heritage area, at the epicentre of biodiversity in China6 (Kunming Institute of Botany & University of Bern 2005; IRN 2004). In the upper Salween’s Nujiang Prefecture in China, 92% of the population consists of ethnic and religious minorities (Public Open Letter 2005). Along the Thai and Myanmar border, there are over 13 ethnic groups living in traditional communities on the river’s banks (EarthRights International 2004). Currently, there is also ample water per person (WRI 2003).

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