World Water Day-2013, Worldwide Activities with Detail Map Locations and Activity ReportsNew!!! April 2013
Can we turn around the clock for human impacts on our environment? In a last ditch effort, the Chinese authorities and wildlife conservationists are hoping to accomplish just that for the finless porpoises inhabiting the Yangtze River. And Rivers of the World is more than excited to lend a helping hand through our volunteer activities with the river in Wuhan, China. As per World Wildlife Fund, these sole freshwater porpoises are roughly just 15 years away from extinction. So it’s a tough race against time to save these amazing creatures of the subtropical Asia!
As part of conservation efforts, the Institute of Hydrobiology at Chinese Academy of Sciences and Wuhan Baiji Conservation Foundation have launched an awareness campaign by running Porpoise Watching Cruise Trips. Through sightings of the finless porpoises, these trips are aiming to draw attention of the tourists, public and fishermen to the plight of these animals. Often these animals are found dead off the shores from excessive fishing and use of harmful methods such as trapping nets and electric gear. The worsening water quality of the Yangtze from pollution and sewage discharge is also partly to be blamed.
These Porpoise Cruise trips are conducted around the confluence of the Yangtze River and Poyang Lake, where about 450 porpoises have been counted – the highest density found in natural waters. With the help of a team of volunteers and experts, hectic conservation activities are under way to turn around the clock for these animals.
We wish them all the luck in their efforts to save the finless porpoises – yet another battle for restoring rivers!! (Read more about the conservation efforts.)
Mega Finish and a Great Start for Philippines
The 1st International River Summit ceremoniously ended in Iloilo City, Philippines, on June 1, 2012, with a keynote speech by the Philippine President Benigno Aquino lauding the city’s efforts in river restoration and a declaration of 5 major river-driven policy recommendations for the nation to act upon. A sweet end to the 3-day extravaganza and a great start for a nation at the frontline of climate change.
The World Bank lists Philippines at the top of the climate change hit-list – the country most vulnerable to storms, ahead of Bangladesh and Madagascar. At the far east in Pacific, the country’s 7,000+ islands lie directly in the path of battering tropical storms and typhoons, making a landfall on an average of 6 to 9 times per year. A scenario where the rivers can swell and turn deadly. “Achilles Heel” is how Mr. Heherson “Sonny” Alvarez describes his country’s rivers. Mr. Alvarez, a former two-term senator, is considered to be Philippines’ environmental trailblazer and is currently serving as its Commissioner for Climate Change.
All in all, the focus of the event – protecting local rivers – is a quintessential one for the country, the importance of which can not be emphasized enough!
Great Success Was Had
The International River Summit at Iloilo City was a huge success beyond doubt. Maybe beyond the expectations of its organizers even. Mayor Mabilog is on a mission to make Iloilo a world-class city and the event has surely placed it on the global map, as he himself describes the success of the event. His energetic and devoted team of volunteers had counted over 1000+ participants and representation from over 15 different countries by the end of the event.
It was a mix of NGOs, academia, local government units, private sector and financing institutions. The topics covered spanned river basin governance, climate change and disaster risk reduction, water quality and water resources management, biodiversity management and eco-tourism.
However, the Real Success …
While the delegates visiting from the world over were sharing a wealth of expertise and experiences in best practices and proven scientific models, real event success was hinted at not in the packed halls of the break-out sessions, but in the mood of the audiences captured in Q&A sessions. It was heartening to hear the attending heads of local government units respond with simple, basic questions like – “Can you help us solve our (river) problems?” and “Would you partner with us in managing our river?” The questions rang of leaders stepping up to the initiative. A desire for change. A beginning of environmental leadership.
The dramatic turnaround of Iloilo River easily figures as the outcome of the efforts of Iloilo City’s Mayor Jed Mabilog and Senator Franklin Drilon, a native of Iloilo. For their vision and unrelenting perseverance, these leaders are popularly known to be the “architect” of the successful rehabilitation of Iloilo River.
The most poignant takeaway from the 1st International River Summit? There exist ample necessary technical and financial resources to put our rivers on a healthy course. The starting point though lies in having or maybe even identifying a champion for the cause amongst the local government leaders.
“My River, My Life” so appropriately defines the theme for the 1st International River Summit to be held at Iloilo City in Philippines from May 30 to June 1, 2012. Located in Panay Island, the proud city of roughly 400,000 people is pretty serious when it talks about achieving the status of the New7Wonders of Cities of the world. The vision just might come true under the leadership of Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog! What’s more – both the city and the Summit have the blessing of Philippine’s President, Benigno Aquino III. He would be gracing the occasion with a keynote address at the Closing Ceremony on Friday, June 1.
The coming week, the city of Iloilo is all set to show off the huge environmental strides it has made in reviving their beloved river, Iloilo. The river, flowing through the heart of the city, had dangerously deteriorated from lack of environmental regulations and haphazard city development. The stretch of polluted waters was lined with slum dwellings just 5 years back! Today the Iloilo River has become the center of tourism for the city with an impressive esplanade in the works to adorn its banks – a showcase of sustainable urban development.
The International Summit is convening delegations from 10 different countries on the common thread of challenges in river management and best practices. We will be hearing from international experts on the many facets rivers pose to its communities – biodiversity, climate change and disaster mitigation, governance and water quality. Defining issues specially for the densely populated areas in Southeast Asia where hundreds of millions inhabit the river basin and rapid economic development neglects and many times, endangers natural resources.