News / 14 November 2018

Celebrating the River Paraguay

Each year on the 14th of November, in the Brazilian city of Cáceres the 'Day of the Paraguay River' (Dia do Rio Paraguai) is celebrated. This tradition started in the year 2000, when civil society mobilized for the first time and successfully campaigned against the construction of the Hidrovía Paraguay-Paraná. Since then, the date symbolizes the close relationship of the people with the river, its culture and the environment.

The wetlands system of the Paraguay and Paraná rivers constitutes the largest living freshwater wetland in the world. It is a supplier of water for human consumption and irrigation for agriculture, and provides freshwater and food for the millions of people living along its margins. It has a regulating role in water levels of the rivers of the system, and plays a crucial role in continental and global climate control and local adaptation strategies.

River defines identity of its people

On the 'Dia do Rio Paraguai' of 2018, civil society (CSOs, NGOs and members of local riverine and indigenous communities) from several countries along the Paraguay river (Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay) came together, among them many partners of the Wetlands Without Borders programme. They use the day not only to raise awareness about the threats to the river, such as mining, large-scale agriculture, dams and canalization of the river, but also to stress the close relationship that the people living along its shore feel with the river.

The river is not only an ecosystem they depend on for their livelihoods; it also defines for a large part their culture and identity. Therefore, on the Dia do Rio Paraguai the river is being celebrated with songs, dances and rituals.

Development of sustainable alternatives

In the Wetlands without Borders programme, a large network of civil society organisations work together to develop sustainable economic activities, such as agroecology. These alternatives can provide livelihoods for the riverine communities, protect and strengthen the ecosystem of the Pantanal wetlands area and build resilience to the effects of climate change, in which wetlands play an important role.

Furthermore, the regional network of organisations is developing the concept of biocultural corridors. The idea of biocultural corridors proposes the restoration of waterbodies (small streams, rivers, lakes, springs) that flow towards the wetlands system of La Plata Basin and to the Alto Paraná River. The restored corridors, once implemented, will recover the connection between the ecosystem pockets and therefore restore and strengthen their biological and cultural functions.

The local partners used the Dia do Rio Paraguai to develop these sustainable alternatives further and present them to the communities taking part in the festivities of the day.

For more information

Read more about this subject