WWF has been working on freshwater conservation in five river basins – the Ganges, Mara, Mekong, Pantanal and Yangtze – over five years of a programme funded by HSBC. WWF has been working in partnership with HSBC for 15 years, most recently as part of the HSBC Water Programme. The five years, five rivers report (PDF) 2017 summarises WWF's work in these basins.
The five river basins WWF worked in as part of the HSBC Water Programme are collectively home to more than a billion people and are some of the planet’s most biodiverse areas. The Ganga, Mara, Mekong, Pantanal and Yangtze river basins are in many ways representative of the problems facing freshwater ecosystems worldwide.
Freshwater ecosystems and human societies are now interdependent. WWF’s approaches in the five HSBC Water Programme river basins reflected this mutual reliance and involved working with governments, companies and local communities both to protect freshwater ecosystems and to ensure that freshwater resources continue to deliver benefits to human societies, their communities and businesses.
Ganges river basin
The Rivers for Life programme covered: habitat and biodiversity conservation, targeting seven key species; sustainable water management, via environmental flows; water stewardship and urban water management; and climate change adaption work aimed at local farmers.
Read the following case studies about our work in the Ganges river basin:
- India's Mitras: Friends of the river - How thousands of volunteers from all walks of life are working together to help protect the Ganga River and its tributaries
- Keeping the Ganga flowing: How an environmental flows assessment in the Upper Ganga Basin can be a stepping stone for basin-wide results
- Otters under pressure: How WWF-India is working to improve knowledge and protection of otter populations in the Ganga river basin
- A tiger among fish: Learning more about the Ganga river basin’s golden mahseer fish to better protect it
- Gharials on the Ganga: How WWF-India is working with partners to reintroduce gharials within the Hastinapur Wildlife Sanctuary
- [to be added soon] Planning at the river basin scale: How WWF-India worked with stakeholders to create a river basin management plan for the Ramganga
- [to be added soon] Climate-smart agriculture: Encouraging the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices, recharging aquifers, restoring wetlands and advocating for climate-resilient policies in the Ganga river basin
Mara river basin
WWF strengthened the capacity of water user groups, restored riverbanks, improved farmers’ land management practices, involved hotels and mines in pollution control practices, started a transboundary water allocation dialogue and helped to protect vital wetlands.
Read the following case studies about our work in the Mara river basin:
- Kenya’s water resource user associations: Devolving responsibility for water management in the Mara river basin
- Better land management in the Mara: How hundreds of farmers reduced soil erosion
- Water flows from Kenya to Tanzania: Doing the groundwork for a transboundary flow agreement between the two countries
Mekong river basin
WWF supported community-based fish conservation and alternative livelihoods; studied the river’s biodiversity and the impact of human activities on the river and delta; and undertook analysis to demonstrate the dependency of economic sectors and society on the river system.
Read the following case studies about our work in the Mekong river basin:
- Community-based fish conservation: Working with communities in Laos, Cambodia and Thailand to preserve the Mekong river basin’s endemic species and livelihoods
- Searching for the Mekong giant catfish: eDNA reveals fish biodiversity in the Mekong River
- ‘Mekong River in the Economy’ report
- [to be added soon] The sands are running out: How WWF sought to better understand the impact of dam construction and sand mining on sediment flows in the Mekong river basin
WWF created a political agreement involving the public and private sector and civil society to protect the Pantanal wetland’s headwaters. In addition, WWF supported spring restoration and sanitation improvements and reached millions through a communications campaign.
Read the following case studies about our work in the Pantanal wetland:
- Brazil's Pantanal: From pilot to Pact - How we scaled-up a pilot to bring about improved watershed management across the headwaters of the Pantanal wetlands
- A ‘Water Governance Observatory’ for Brazil: Assessing the effectiveness of water policy and governance
- [to be added soon] The Water Producers Programme: Incentives for spring restoration in the Pantanal’s headwaters
- [to be added soon] Communicating the Pantanal: An innovative and opportunistic communication strategy raises awareness about Brazil’s biggest wetland
Yangtze river basin
The programme’s vast scope included: sustainable aquaculture and agriculture; a protected area network and nature schools; finless porpoise conservation; environmental flow releases; water stewardship collective action with SMEs; and integrated river basin management.
Read the following case studies about our work in the Yangtze river basin:
- Participatory wetland conservation: Tools for wetland conservation in the Yangtze river basin: the Protected Area Network and ‘Nature School’ platform
- Yangtze freshwater aquaculture: Using multiple tactics to change aquaculture practices to improve water quality in the Yangtze River
- Finless porpoises on the brink: How WWF is working with partners to prevent the extinction of the Yangtze River’s last remaining cetacean species (also read more about the finless porpoise)