WWF and World Rowing partnership going from strength to strength

Posted on 22 March 2022

With water crises worsening around the globe, the ground-breaking Clean Water partnership between WWF and World Rowing is more critical than ever.
Launched over a decade ago, the partnership between the world’s oldest sporting federation and the world’s largest independent conservation organization has played a vital role in raising awareness about the need for action to ensure clean water for people and nature – reaching an audience far beyond the global rowing community.

Now the partnership is breaking new ground – as momentum builds around the innovative Kafue River & Rowing Centre (KRRC) in Zambia. A flagship initiative of World Rowing and WWF, this first-of-its-kind centre will benefit not only rowing in the region but also efforts to enhance the health of rivers in Zambia, Africa and further afield.

The response from the rowing world has been incredible. With the wholehearted support of World Rowing, funds have been raised to kickstart the project, interest has been sparked by banners at major rowing events, and three more Olympic rowers have recently signed up as ambassadors – Norway’s seven-time Olympian, Olaf Tufte, Tokyo Gold Medalist, Sam Bosworth from New Zealand, and Namibia’s first ever Olympic rower, Maike Diekmann.

“WWF is proud to partner with World Rowing, which has been a champion of not just clean water but sustainability within the sporting world – and to work with these incredible Olympians to turn the dream of the Kafue River and Rowing Centre into reality,” said Stuart Orr, WWF Leader, Freshwater Practice.

Olaf Tufte is one of the best-known rowers in the world. His first Olympics were in Atlanta back in 1996 since when he has won two Olympic golds, a silver and a bronze as well as multiple World Championship and World Cup medals. Sam Bosworth coxed the New Zealand men’s eight to an incredible win in Tokyo, while Maike Diekmann competed in the women’s single sculls.

“But we still have work to do and what I’d love this World Water Day is for Olympic rowers from different countries to sign up as Ambassadors for the KRRC to help us spread the word about this unique initiative across the world,” added Orr.

The KRRC is also starting to attract attention from rowing clubs with the Rocky Mountain Rowing Club in the US hosting a webinar involving top officials from both WWF and World Rowing in February. A follow up with KRRC ambassadors and additional clubs is scheduled for April.

“Hopefully, other clubs will follow the lead of the Rocky Mountain Rowing club and seize the opportunity to learn about this unique project. Together, WWF and the rowing community can build something extraordinary on the banks of the Kafue, which will make a real difference for rivers and rowers in Zambia – and far beyond,” said Orr.

Providing most of the water supply for the capital, Lusaka, and much of the electricity to power the country’s economy, the Kafue River and its surrounding ecosystem is a microcosm of the challenges that our global water ecosystems are facing - including the impacts of hydropower, over-abstraction of water, and industrial, agricultural and urban pollution. And climate change. All of these threaten communities, businesses and ecosystems.

The Kafue River and Rowing Centre is the perfect location for studying the demands on this critical river as well as being a place where decision-makers, academics, businesses, scientists, conservationists from WWF and other organisations, and local communities will come together to understand, plan and better manage the freshwater resources they depend on. It is also a place where rowing can be taught and developed, being situated just 200 metres from a local school, which will use the rowing equipment as a part of their physical education programme.
For more information, please see Kafue River & Rowing Centre - World Rowing. Your support is critical, so if you also would like to contribute to this very important project please contact WWF-Zambia or World Rowing.
World Rowing championships with KRRC, WWF and Clean Water partnership logos
© World Rowing
Design of Kafue river and rowing centre - a project under the global WWF & World Rowing partnership
© WWF / World Rowing
WWF partners with World Rowing to help ensure Clean Water for people and nature
© FISA / Igor Meijer
Kafue Flats with Cattle egrets (<i>Bubulcus ibis</i>) and Kafue lechwe (<i>Kobus leche kafuensis</i>), Southern Province, Zambia.
The Kafue Flats are a haven for biodiversity and critical for Zambia's economy
© WWF / Sarah BLACK