Rise Up for Living Rivers

Today, as we celebrate the 20th International Day of Action for Rivers, I find myself reflecting on what a river is and why we’re still fighting for rivers, all these years later.

When we speak of rivers, most people think only of water flowing between two banks. But a river is much more than “merely water flowing to the sea.”

A river is a community of life.

A river is the people who dance, sing and meditate along its banks.

A river is the meadows, forests, marshes and floodplains that rely on it for life.

A river is all the animals who live in those diverse and vibrant habitats.

A river is the people who draw water for drinking, washing and farming on its banks.

A river is the nutrients and minerals carried downstream to nourish forests and farmland.

A river is the groundwater that it recharges and stores deep underground.

Our late partner Fulgêncio Manoel da Silva, the Brazilian poet and social activist, once said that "the river is life-water. What we do with it affects the life of the people, the life of the animals, the life of the river and the life of the waters. This is true for the world, not just for Brazil, but for the world."

Da Silva is right: We are all interconnected. And we know that in an era of climate instability, our rivers – and the community of life that depends on them – face more threats than ever. 

Around the world, corporate and government interests are blind to the many benefits of free-flowing rivers – they see them only as a commodity to be exploited. Before they close in on our last remaining free-flowing rivers, we must protect them, for they are the lifeblood of millions.

Affected communities are central to this fight.

As we have seen from Chile to the Congo, community voices and community power can win. We have hope because of our many partners all over the world, who are sometimes quietly – sometimes raucously – but always steadfastly working on behalf of the rights of all creatures, using sound scientific and community research to speak truth to power. We have hope because of you. 

We’re incredibly proud and honored to stand alongside many courageous and brave water defenders who are standing up for rivers this week. We hope you’ll stand with us!

Monday, March 13, 2017