First awarded in 1999, the Thiess International Riverprize has grown to become one of the world’s most prestigious environmental awards. The prize not only rewards excellence, but promotes the sharing of knowledge and best practices through the International RiverFoundation’s (IRF) twinning programme.
The application period for the International prize is November 10, 2014 until March 6, 2015, and all countries participating in the EPIRB project are encouraged to apply now for the chance to win a cash award that can be put to any of a wide range of uses. The application period for the IRF European Riverprize will open in late 2014. Countries may only apply in one category each year, and all EPIRB participating countries, with the exception of Armenia, are eligible to apply for the European prize.
Shortlisted applicants for the International prize will be announced at the end of March 2015, and finalists will be announced in July 2015. Winners will be announced at a gala dinner in Brisbane, Australia on September 22, 2015.
This year’s winner of the Thiess International Riverprize was the River Rhine. According to the IRF website, the International commission for the Protection of the Rhine (ICPR) “received the award for bringing [the] Rhine back to life following a devastating chemical accident in 1986, which wiped out nearly all biological life. Prior to the accident, industrialisation and burgeoning populations had already caused major degradation to the river.”
EPIRB project partners and impacted communities can look to such a turnaround as an indication of what is possible through concerted conservation and reclamation efforts. Previous winners have invested prize money into many diverse projects, some examples of which are:
- small, innovative projects at local community scale (Mersey Basin, UK);
- endowment funds for annual community projects, research and on ground works (Grand River, Canada; Blackwood Basin Group, Australia);
- a regional art competition (Mekong River, South East Asia);
- a unique school programme for 600 fourth-grade students (Alexander River Restoration Project, Israel);
- on-ground projects (St. Johns River, US); and
- various twinning projects (Danube River/Orange-Senqu River Commission of Southern Africa; Thames River, England/Ganges River, India; and Lake Simcoe, Canada/Ayuquila River, Mexico).
For more information and application guidelines visit the official website.
Text: Nathan Johnson, Editor at the Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe (REC)