Flowing Through Our Hearts: The International Day of Action for Rivers

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According to International Rivers, the International Day of Action for Rivers is a day dedicated to solidarity – when diverse communities around the world come together with one voice to say that our rivers matter.

Fisherman & Bird, China, taken by IOA 2018 Finalist Kyaw Bo Bo Han

Great poets all over the world have written about rivers, and why not? On their epic journeys from mountain to sea, they nurture and provide, shaping both our landscapes and our cultures. Irrigation has allowed for agriculture to flourish and provides hydration for millions. Rivers are also a mighty sight to behold, often carrying with them great cultural and religious significance, and history that is encapsulated in every drop.

The Hindu religious ritual of bathing in the Ganges River by the ancient ghats of Varanasi

The ancient Greeks believed that there were six main rivers that flow from the living world into the Underworld. Like the river Styx flowing from Feneos, Greece, into the dark bowels of Hades, some rivers that once provided food, water, transport and trade to all living creatures have now turned dark – transporting waste from the cities to the oceans, and with it, death and disease.

A recent study on the amount of plastic polluting our oceans revealed that close to 80 percent of the pollution comes from rivers in Asia.

Here are some of the polluted “dark waters” of Asia:

The master key unlocking these healthy aquatic environments is “flow”. Well-connected river ecosystems allow an essential exchange of water, nutrients, sediments, and species that not only foster enormous biodiversity but also regulate sediment levels, flooding, pollution, and water purification. It is time to look at our rivers for what they are: irreplaceable elements of Earth that tie us culturally, politically, economically, and socially.

Read more about rivers (and other water bodies) in our latest issue, “The Water Edition” here or download a digital copy here!

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