IWI supports World Rivers Day 2021, on September 26. The World Rivers Day was founded 40 years ago in British Columbia, and aims to increase public awareness of the importance of our waterways as well as the many threats confronting them.

With many of the world’s rivers in a degraded state and facing increasing pressures associated with pollution, industrial development, and climate change, close to 100 countries will participate in this year’s activities.

The organisation’s founder and chair Mark Angelo has been a lifetime advocate of free-flowing rivers, and has achieved considerable success in obtaining recognition through national and international bodies including the UN.

To avoid any possible confusion, IWI’s support does not extend to the ill-conceived destruction of dams and weirs that have made many rivers navigable, serving the interests of entire regions and their populations, through energy-efficient inland water transport, recreational navigation and waterfront development, particularly in cities, where access to water space is so important.

River Leie in Kortrijk
The River Leie in Kortrijk already had a bypass that served multiple functions, including flood relief, from the 1950s. That bypass was widened a few years ago to allow barges carrying up to 2000 tonnes to pass through the town. This scene, where high-capacity commercial navigation is shown to be compatible with an attractive urban environment, shows how compromises can be reached. The vertical walls were the price to pay here for minimising the loss of public space on either side of the river.