WWF flow a river through parliament to put the environment at the heart of politics
This week the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) celebrated the opening of their ‘A river runs through it’ exhibition, in Westminster, sponsored by Penistone and Stocksbridge MP, Angela Smith.
The spectacle included a river through the Upper Waiting Hall – a busy thoroughfare for Members of Parliament – and collaborative artwork by local children and artist Layla Andrews. The exhibit will support a week of events that celebrate the UK’s unique rivers, asking politicians to support the restoration of our environment.
The interactive exhibit brings nature inside Parliament to highlight the issues that English and Welsh water systems are facing, such as growing pollution from rural areas and sewage run off. This is following the recent WWF report, Flushed Away, that found 80% of rivers in England and Wales are unhealthy, and up to 40% are polluted with sewage.
The #NatureNeedsYou campaign has previously worked with local Angling Trusts and River Trusts to deliver events to promote the campaign. More than 4000 people in England and Wales have already written to their MP through a WWF email action.
Campaign Manager, Barbara Cornejo Sesnic, commented:
“The wildlife that lives in our rivers is in crisis. According to the 2016 Living Planet Report, populations of river and other freshwater wildlife have declined by 81% since 1970, faster than any other species group on the planet, and 13% of freshwater species are threatened with extinction in the UK. Despite big improvements over recent decades, four out of five rivers in England and Wales are failing to reach the required health standards. This is a result of pollution from farms and sewage, and unsustainable abstraction.
“We greatly appreciate the Houses of Parliament hosting us and for so many members of parliament attending. This display places the environment firmly at the centre of the Brexit process and makes the health of our rivers an undeniable priority to everyone. The WWF is calling for the UK Government to place nature at the heart of politics, to restore and safeguard the environment for generations to come.”
MP Angela Smith added:
“I'd like to thank WWF for bringing the outside, in, and building a riverbank into parliament; this exhibit really put the environment where it needs to be, at the centre political agenda.
Our rivers are the lifeblood of this country supporting wildlife, agriculture, industry and livelihoods, which is why I believe the government should put our freshwater environment at the heart it’s planned d 25 year Environmental Plan. We also cannot forget that European legislation such as the Water Framework Directive has gone a long way to improve and restore rivers and we must not see this progress reverse as we prepare to leave the EU.
I am proud to support the WWF's #NatureNeedsYou campaign, and I encourage all MPs to work together to create a more sustainable future for generations and ensure the environment remains at the forefront of political decisions.”