Fight Water Pollution in Rio de Janeiro Before 2016 Olympics

Target: Dr. Glen Daigger, President of the International Water Association; Dr. Blanca Jiménez-Cisneros Director of the UNESCO Division of Water Sciences; Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil

Goal: Clean the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon in Rio de Janeiro before the 2016 Olympics

At Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, thousands of fish have died thanks to rampant pollution, which has caused water oxygen levels to drop so low that the lagoon can no longer sustain life. This lagoon will be the site of the 2016 Olympic Rowing competition.

Despite the World Bank’s Water Quality Pollution and Control Project, which took place in Brazil over the course of 10 years between 1992 and 2002, Brazil’s water pollution is still out of control. Last year, Blanca Jiménez-Cisneros, the Director of the Division of Water Sciences at UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) announced plans for the International Year of Water Cooperation 2013 in Brazil. In its press release about the initiative, UNESCO acknowledges that water pollution in Brazil is exacerbated by agriculture, industry, urbanization, and pollution.

Facing serious water pollution issues, Brazil will host the 17th International Symposium on Health-Related Water Microbiology, organized by the International Water Association (IWA). It will take place this September on Florianopolis Island in Santa Catarina, Brazil. One of the main themes for the event, attended by environmental scientists from around the world, is water pollution and disease.

According to UNESCO, March, 22 2013 is World Water Day, a day on which the organization hopes international communities will focus on water cooperation. Help celebrate Water Day by asking leaders of Brazil, UNESCO, and the IWA to clean the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon so that it can once again support life before the 2016 Olympics.


Dear Leaders,

As you discuss plans to clean up Brazil’s waterways throughout the year 2013, please create an initiative to reverse rampant pollution in the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon in Rio de Janeiro, which has resulted in the death of thousands of fish. Pollution has reduced oxygen levels in the lagoon to such a state that it can no longer support life. This is unacceptable, since this body of water will host the 2016 Olympic Rowing competition.

Cleaning this lagoon is essential not only for the health of Olympians and aquatic life, but also as a symbol of Brazil’s progress in cleaning its waterways. In honor of UNESCO’s International Year of Water Cooperation 2013 and World Water Day on March 22, I ask you to consider the state of the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon and make plans for its recovery. I also ask you to include discussion of the Lagoon in the International Water Association conference to be held on Florianopolis Island in Santa Catarina this September.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Alex Rio Brazil via Wikimedia Commons

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