Mark Angelo, founder of BC Rivers Day and World Rivers Day

Mark Angelo, founder of BC Rivers Day and World Rivers Day

World Rivers Day is a celebration of the world’s waterways. It highlights the many values of our rivers, strives to increase public awareness, and encourages the improved stewardship of all rivers around the world.  Rivers in virtually every country face an array of threats, and only through our active involvement can we ensure their health in the years ahead.

A brief history

In 2005, the United Nations launched the Water for Life Decade to help create a greater awareness of the need to better care for our water resources. Following this, the establishment of World Rivers Day was in response to a proposal initiated by internationally renowned river advocate, Mark Angelo.

The proposal for a  global event to celebrate rivers was based on the success of BC Rivers Day, which Mark Angelo had founded and led in western Canada since 1980.  A World Rivers Day event was seen by agencies of the UN as a good fit for the aims of the Water for Life Decade and the proposal was approved.  River enthusiasts from around the world came together to organize the inaugural WRD event.  That first event in 2005 was a great success and Rivers Day was celebrated across dozens of countries.  Since then, the event has continued to grow.  It is annually celebrated on the last Sunday of every September.  Last year, several million people across more than 60 countries celebrated the many values of our waterways.

About the Founder

Mark Angelo hails from Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, and is an internationally celebrated river conservationist. He is the founder and Chair of both BC and World Rivers Day and is Chair Emeritus of the Rivers Institute at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT). Mark was also the long time head of BCIT’s Fish, Wildlife and Recreation Program.  He has received both the Order of British Columbia and the Order of Canada (his country’s highest honour) in recognition of his river conservation efforts over the past four decades. Among his many other awards are the United Nations Stewardship Award and the National River Conservation Award.  As an avid paddler, Mark has traveled along close to 1000 rivers around the world, perhaps more than any other person. From 2003 to 2006, his acclaimed Riverworld program played to sold-out audiences across North America and the program’s website had more than 40 million visits. Mark continues to work on conservation issues in his community and province, as well as across Canada and elsewhere in the world. Mark has written more than 300 articles and essays about his experiences and related conservation issues. He is a regular contributor to newspaper travel sections and is the Past Chair of the Pacific Fisheries Resource Conservation Council. He was recently awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Simon Fraser University in recognition of his river conservation efforts.  Mark is a Fellow International of the New York based Explorers Club, a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society, and in late 2016 completed working on the award winning global river documentary film entitled RiverBlue. Learn more about Mark.

To learn more about the history of Rivers Day and its founder, Mark Angelo, please read articles published in the Vancouver Sun, Burnaby Now and CBC on September 27, 2012, September 25, 2015, September 19, 2017, as well as September 24, 2017. The link to the film RiverBlue can be found at

Join in and celebrate a river near you

Join the celebration – Plan on attending an event near you or start a Rivers Day event of your own.  Events can range from stream cleanups and fish enhancement projects to educational outings and community riverside celebrations.  And if you create an event, be sure to tell us about it!  Please see the update section to learn more about events unfolding around the world.