WWN Committee members Louise Duff and Minoru Kashiwagi joined an international delegation of conservationists who toured the Nakdong River, South Korea to celebrate World Rivers Day. Nakdong River is the longest river in South Korea. It was regulated with a series of weirs and an estuary dam as part of the Four Rivers Project from 2009-2012. The project caused eutrophication of the river including poor water quality, toxic green algae and fish kills. The fishery collapsed, with major reductions in the populations of commercial fish species such as eels, affecting livelihoods.
Civil society organisations campaigned against the Four Rivers Project, and continue to call for restoration of the Nakdong River. The Republic of Korea President Mr. Moon Jae-in from the Democratic Party of Korea made an election promise to reverse the Four Rivers Project and restore Nakdong River. He was elected earlier this year. The municipal government of Busan have also committed to restoring the river.
There are complex social, economic and environmental issues to work through with a range of stakeholders and competing interests. But steps are already underway to start the process. Civil society will play a key role ensuring the restoration project proceeds as promised.
The World Rivers Day field tour was organised by the Korean Wetlands NGO Network and Wetlands and Birds Korea as part of the 12th Korea-Japan Wetland NGO Forum in the City of Busan, South Korea from 22-24 of September 2017. Delegates from Korea, Japan, Australia and United Arab Emirates, (where Ramsar COP 13 will be held next year) attended the meeting.