On March 14th for the 25th annual International Day of Action for Rivers, people all over the world gathered to protect and celebrate rivers. 

The International Day of Action Against Dams and For Rivers, Water and Life was adopted by the participants of the first international meeting of People Affected by Dams in March 1997 in Curitiba, Brazil. Representatives from 20 countries decided that the International Day of Action would take place on March 14 – Brazil’s Day of Action Against Large Dams.

Gambia Ocean Heroes championed removal of tons of trash from wetlands and rivers by remote and affected communities in the greater Banjul areas to mitigate uncontrolled marine and coastal pollution in Gambia

This year we recorded over 70 events in over 30 countries with over 300 groups celebrating the freshwater biodiversity-themed day in multiple ways (and the photos and stories are still coming in!). You gathered and protested for protecting free-flowing rivers. You wrote to elected officials. You organized river cleanups. You held online webinars, and river walks, and kayaking education events! This is true from the Salween in Thailand to India, from Sebria to the Kinshasa, DRC. The amazing global activity we’ve seen in this year’s Day of Action –  the variety, diversity and passion of our movement – continues to inspire. Even in these challenging times, you have made your voices heard.

A beautiful, inspiring 25th anniversary for rivers! We loved the diversity of activities and creativity too!

In snowy, frozen Canada, organizers with the Grand Labrador Riverkeeper protested Canadian hydropower and megadams on their snowmobiles!
Women’s river meeting led by Coalition des Organisations de la Société Civile pour le Suivi des Réformes et de l’Actions Publique (CORAP) in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

In a time of immense challenges, we find connection and common cause – across languages, cultures, and borders. We know Rivers Unite Us. And we know that we must join hands to protect our life-sustaining rivers because they are essential to our future on this planet.

Day of Action Highlights

1) Keep the Salween River Free-flowing! | Thailand 

The Salween River is one of the last free-flowing rivers in Asia where millions are dependent on the health and biodiversity of the river for food and livelihoods. Photo above is of villagers from Kang Sua Tend Community who attended and supported the inspiring Salween-Yuam-Mei People river network #internationaldayofactionforrivers at Sob Gao village. They’re the strongest movement to oppose the Kang Sua Tend dam for 30 years. The local community is opposing the Salween-Yuam -Bhumiphol dam water diversion project in Thailand.  Photo by Cr.Hannarong

Salween River Day of Action event

International Rivers’ Thailand and Myanmar Campaigns Director, Pai Deetes, had an Opinion piece in the Bangkok Post celebrating the history and Day of Action for Rivers work in the region. 

Additionally, read about the work of Civil Society Organisation (CSO) Action for Shan State Rivers and its networks to stop the dams and “Save our rivers”: Protesters call for a stop to new Shan State dams

2) The Movement for People Affected by Dams (MAB) celebrates its 31st Anniversary | Brazil

Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens (MAB) celebrated its 31st anniversary and was in the streets protesting, meeting with decision-makers, and speaking at events throughout Brazil against dams and for the people impacted by dams for the “International Day of Struggles Against Dams, For Rivers, For Water and For Life”. MAB also held solidarity activities to shine a light on the situation of food insecurity in different states in Brazil, and donated more than 500 tons of food

3) Young Leaders Speak Up for Rivers | Global 

4) Save the Salmon and Honor the Treaties | USA

Across a rainy Pacific Northwest, multiple groups held actions to call on the removal of the 4 dams on the Lower Snake River. See the photos of their actions throughout the Pacific Northwest of the United States. 

5) Save the Mekong! | Mekong River

The Hug Nam Kong Group in Tamui Village, Ubon Rachtani, Thailand celebrated the International Day of Action for Rivers with a boating caravan and showing signs to protect the Mekong river from the Salavan dam. 

6) Communities in India celebrate Rivers in a Big Way once again | India 

People throughout India have valued and understood the importance of rivers in their daily lives. Every year, multiple small and large groups in India lead the way in hosting the most actions and celebrations for rivers on the International Day of Action for Rivers. This year is no different, with many events organized by a diversity of groups throughout the country.

7) Indigenous Peoples and Allies Around the World Continue Defending Rivers | GLOBAL 

8) Coalition Partners join Day of Action calling for Better Protection and Prioritization of Freshwater Biodiversity | GLOBAL 

For International #DayofActionforRivers, a coalition of organizations urged policy-makers to include explicit targets for fresh water. The Durable River Protection Coalition called on policy-makers negotiating the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework the week of March 14th to include and make explicit fresh water with a specific focus on Target 3. Last year International Rivers and partners also organized a letter with 570 experts calling on the prioritizing protection targets for fresh water ecosystems; the most degraded in the world. 


We hope you enjoy these highlighted events. To see more, check out the full Flickr album here. If you have photos from your event you would like to add to the album please email dayofaction@internationalrivers.org