• Non-ICIMOD publication
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World?s top 10 rivers at risk

  • Wong, C.
  • Williams, C.
  • Pittock, J.
  • Collier, U.
  • Schelle, P.
This report illustrates how the world’s great river basins are fast dying as a result of over-extraction, dams and infrastructure development, invasive species, climate change, over-fishing, and pollution. Aiming to encouraging dialogue, the report provokes debate and urges governments and other stakeholders to take action before it is too late. The top ten rivers selected are either those that are already suffering under enormous stresses; or those that are bracing for the heaviest impacts. Five of the rivers are in Asia alone: the Yangtze, Mekong, Salween, Ganges and Indus. Europe’s Danube, the Americas’ La Plata and Rio Grande/Rio Bravo, Africa’s Nile-Lake Victoria and Australia’s Murray-Darling complete the list. Having recognised the most vulnerable river systems and the mian causes for their vulnerability, the report offers the following recommendations for integrated river management:
  • over extraction: estabilishing environmental flows, improving water allocations and rights, improving water use efficiency in both agriculture and municipalities, insituting payments for water services, and developing a network of sustainable development partnerships;
  • dams and infrastructure: assessment of whether river-based infrastructure is the best means of delivering a required service, and if so, it should be planned to minimise impacts;
  • invasive species: implementation of more stringent laws and programmes;
  • climate change: international cooperation, technology transfer and awareness are crucial for both mitigation and adaptation efforts;
  • over-fishing: clarifying fishing rights, increasing local capacity to manage aquatic resources; and stronger regulations and enforcement;
  • pollution: better agricultural managment practices and watershed and wetland protection.