River groups must work collaboratively across the globe and put pressure on governments, businesses and society to take swift action on rivers to tackle the impacts of climate change on communities, environmental charity Thames21 has warned.
The charity, which launched its manifesto on 18 October ahead of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, has warned that action on rivers is currently too fragmented, disconnected and small scale across the globe to deliver success in protecting society from the impacts of climate change.
This past year has seen flooding wreak havoc across the globe, from Mozambique to Germany, London to Haiti to New York. Droughts have also been seen from Brazil to Kenya.
Debbie Leach, CEO of Thames21, said: “Rivers are crucial in our response to the climate emergency and are vital tools if we are to tackle more extreme, accelerated and intense periods of drought and flood and manage their impact on people and wildlife.
“We have a duty to work together to protect our rivers from any further destruction. The best way to tackle this is to share what everyone knows, work cooperatively and find solutions.”
With COP26 less than two weeks away, Thames21 is urging river groups to establish international collaborations in order to put pressure on governments to take global action on rivers as a priority so that they can better absorb the impacts of climate change.
The charity has recommended that a practical system of ‘river twinning’ could be established to share best practice and facilitate close partnership working across the globe. It has also maintained that finance and incentivising mechanisms must be upscaled to enable cross-sectoral partnerships required to achieve action on rivers at the necessary scale.
Overall, Thames21 has also set out five key pledges in its manifesto to commit to COP26 goals and push for net zero emissions by mid-century.
One pledge in the manifesto makes a case for Thames21 to protect communities, natural habitats, wildlife and ecosystems. The charity has pledged to educate, support and empower people and communities to act, advocate for and participate in decision-making around their rivers and river landscapes.
Thames21 will also step up delivery of nature-based solutions to protect communities, wildlife and the environment, including integrated constructed wetlands and natural flood management schemes, amongst other things.
Leach said: “COP26 offers an opportunity for international river groups and the international community to come together and take real action to tackle the impacts of the climate emergency.
“I am proud to be launching our manifesto today, which highlights the clear need for swifter action to be taken to tackle the climate emergency to help protect our rivers, wildlife and communities.”