On March 14, 2021, we celebrated the 24th annual International Day of Action for Rivers. On this day 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, 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.

This year we’ve recorded an astonishing 120+ events in 32 countries (and the photos and stories are still coming in)! You wrote to elected officials. You organized river cleanups. You held online webinars, and covid-safe river walks, and paddle board celebrations! This is true from Bangladesh to Guam, from Germany to Nigeria. The outpouring of activity we’ve seen in the last week –  the variety, diversity and passion of our movement – is truly an inspiration. Even in these challenging times, you have made your voices heard.

This is a remarkable moment.

In a time of division, we are finding connection and common cause – across languages, cultures and borders. We know that more unites us than divides us. And we know that we must join hands to protect our rivers, because they are essential to our future on this planet.

Todos Al Rio | Santa Rosa Del Sur, Colombia

20 community members of Santa Rosa Del Sur in Bolivar, Colombia gathered to participate in a clean up along the El Platanal River; a critical source of drinking water for the municipality. Photo from Alcaldía Municipal de Santa Rosa del Sur.

Rights of Rivers South Asia Alliance | Day of Action Webinar

The Rights of Rivers South Asia Alliance was officially launched on March 14,2021 marking the International Day of Action on Rivers. The alliance hosted a public webinar with different perspectives on Rights Of Rivers from Bangladesh’s High Court Verdict granting all rivers in Bangladesh to have Rights, Nepal’s pending Water Bills in parliament that talks about Rights of Rivers and Free Flowing Rivers and finally an indigenous perspective from a small Himalayan State of Sikkim, where the Lepcha community has been fighting for years to protect what’s left of the already damed Teesta River.  RoRSA aims to foster dialogue and collaboration around the concept of Rights of Rivers, and to enable community empowerment, regeneration, conservation and responsible policymaking. Inspired by the worldviews of local and indigenous communities across South Asia and the world, we recognise that systemic changes that honour the deep interconnections between humans and nature are essential in order to transform destructive current paradigms of development.

Barak River in Nheng | India

Community members along the Barak River in Nheng (Langpram) village on March 11. Community awareness visits in several villages in the catchment areas of Barak River and Irang River in Tamei areas of Tamenglong district from March 12 to 14 were held to mark the International River Day celebration. Events organized/ photos provided by Centre for Research and Advocacy (CRA) Manipur, Jupiter Yambem Centre, Imphal and the JAC against Pabram Dam.

Press Conference for Day of Action | Bangladesh 

Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (Bapa), Waterkeepers Bangladesh, National River Alliance and Jatiya Nodi Rokkha Andolon jointly organized a press conference ahead of International Day of Action for Rivers. In the meeting, they discussed the importance of stopping faulty river management, and dredging in order to restore healthy flow and navigability to the rivers. Image: Screenshot of the press conference, featuring International Rivers Board member Sharon Khan giving a statement on behalf of Waterkeepers Alliance. Photo provided by Sharon Khan. 

Hudson River Celebration | New Jersey 

“It was bitter cold and windy by the Hudson River, in New York, nevertheless, a group of hardy seniors gathered to call attention to the river and to all rivers. We created a caravan, complete with signs, a reporter joined us, we read poems, made music with a drum and rain stick, shared stories from around the world and returned to the river pieces of fossilized limestone dated at 400 million years.” Photos and description proved by Ann Braudis, New Jersey

Save the Mekong | Mekong, Thai-Lao border in Ubon, Thailand

Community members gathered along the banks of the Mekong River  in Ubon, Thailand, to protest dam developments threatening their livelihoods. Actions like these demonstrate the resiliency and perseverance of the local people to protect the sacred river. Photos provided by Salween Community Network, International Rivers Southeast Asia Program and Hug Namkong Group.

As river defenders, we are united by something deeper than language or culture.We share a fundamental belief in the rights of communities to determine their water and energy futures.

And we know that for so many communities, a healthy river is central to that future. 

We must hold onto this truth as we move forward. And we can take heart that we are part of a truly grassroots, global movement. It’s an honor to be in it with you.

2021 Day of Action Photo Album

Mekong, Thai-Lao border in Chiang Khong, Thailand 8

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.