River Romance Rhapsody

2016-02-13-1455326915-4924507-RomanHoliday15740x555.jpg

If it were not for their audacious bath in the Tiber, Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn might never have kissed during their Roman Holiday. Without their romantic stroll along the Seine, Gene Kelly, the American in Paris, might never have embraced Leslie Caron. If it were not for the River Arno, Lucy and George would not have met in A Room with a View. And if it were not for the dancing scenes under the water falls, some of Bollywood's greatest blockbusters would be only half the fun.

No wonder Audrey and Gregory had their first kiss after a bath in the river. As we all know, rivers free us from inhibitions and make us feel like children again. Rivers are simple and yet mysterious. Like true love, they flow eternally but are ever changing. Rivers have inspired many love stories and broken many hearts (and International Rivers staff members can attest to this).

Rivers deserve our love. They feed us and connect us. They sustain the environment we live in. They have shaped our history, our cities and our cultures. Rivers offer a lot of fun and joy. Like a natural buffer, they can even protect us from extreme floods and droughts.

We love rivers but we often don't treat them well. We have dammed them and polluted them, straightened them out and diverted them. Movie star or not, you wouldn't want to swim in the Tiber, the Arno or Ganga anymore these days. Rivers are struggling to provide us with the clean water, the fisheries and the nutrients that they have delivered for many generations.

On February 14, we celebrate our love for each other with flowers, candy or a candle light dinner. If we're lucky we can spend the day by the water and draw inspiration from a free-flowing river.

Our rivers deserve their own Valentine's Day. And so on March 14, we will celebrate rivers in an International Day of Action. Thousands of people around the world will pay their respects to the rivers that nourish them. Like every year they will organize processions and cultural events on river banks. They will hold protest rallies and workshops, kayak tours and poetry slams. They will clean up their rivers and maybe even occupy a dam site. Like every year, they will join hands under the motto, #RiversUniteUs.

Like many of us, you will feel inspired every time you witness the force of free-flowing rivers. You may owe some of your most romantic memories to a river, and may have felt like Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in the Tiber on occasion. You wouldn't want future generations to grow up without healthy rivers. So please join us and get involved on March 14, the International Day of Action for Rivers.