Burnaby, Canada, September 11, 2023 – Across the globe, millions of people, and thousands of events, both physical and virtual, will mark World Rivers Day 2023 on Sunday, September 24, in what has become one of the largest environmental celebrations on the planet. With many of the world’s rivers in a degraded state and facing increasing pressures associated with pollution, climate change, and industrial development, more than 100 countries will participate in this year’s activities.
This year’s theme is once again “waterways in our communities” with an emphasis on protecting rivers that remain in a healthy state, while also striving to restore those that have been damaged in past. Many events will also profile several sub themes such as the all-important link between the state of our rivers and the state of our oceans, the growing “rights of rivers” movement, and the significant impacts that climate change is having on many rivers.
“World Rivers Day is an opportunity for literally millions of people around the world to come together to commemorate the importance of healthy vibrant waterways,” said Mark Angelo, founder and Chair of World Rivers Day.
Events this year will be both physical, and virtual. Many physical events will focus on educational and public awareness activities while others will include river cleanups, habitat restoration projects, streamside plantings, and community riverside celebrations.
Activities of a digital nature may include school projects, art festivals, the launching of new campaigns, on-line essays and poems, digital photo galleries, the announcement of new research projects, live-stream panels, and virtual film initiatives.
This year marks the 18th annual World Rivers Day, which has its roots in the great success of BC Rivers Day, which is celebrating its 43rd anniversary in Canada’s western-most province and which Angelo founded in conjunction with the Outdoor Recreation Council.
“World Rivers Day strives to increase public awareness of the importance of our waterways as well as the many threats confronting them,” said Angelo, founder of both BC and World Rivers Day and Chair Emeritus of the Rivers Institute at the British Columbia Institute of Technology.
“Rivers are integral to all life,” added Angelo, who has paddled more than 1,000 rivers in over 100 countries, perhaps more than any other. Endorsed in its inaugural year by the United Nations University and the International Network on Water, Environment and Health, World Rivers Day is thankful for the support of lead sponsors such the Pacific Salmon Foundation and the Sitka Foundation, as well as the assistance of the Real Estate Foundation of BC.
World Rivers Day events will take place across 6 continents in countries ranging from Canada to England, the United States to India, Australia to Bangladesh, Austria to Nigeria, and from Mexico to Caribbean nations such as Dominica; the list goes on and on.
“More than 100 countries and numerous international organizations will be contributing to World Rivers Day,” says Angelo. “It provides a great opportunity for people to get out and enjoy our waterways. At the same time, the event strives to create a greater awareness of the urgent need to better care for our rivers and streams.”
Through its first decade, World Rivers Day complimented the UN’s Water for Life Decade and continues to do so as part of the UN’s current International Decade for Action: Water for Sustainable Development.
Angelo, a recipient of the Order of Canada in recognition of his global river conservation efforts as well as the inaugural recipient of a United Nations Stewardship Award, initially founded BC Rivers Day in British Columbia back in 1980 in conjunction with the Outdoor Recreation Council of BC. He then successfully lobbied numerous organizations as well as agencies of the UN to recognize World Rivers Day in 2005.