History & Accomplishments

Over the years, numerous friends in the movement here in South Asia and other parts of the world, have seen International Rivers as an integral part of our collective struggle. – Smitu Kothari, Lokayan and Intercultural Resources, India

Seeking to protect the world’s rivers from destructive dams and amplify the voices of dam-affected communities, a small group of volunteers formed International Rivers Network in 1985. Their vision was simple and yet remarkably ambitious: to develop a worldwide network of people working to protect rivers and promote just and sustainable water and energy development.

Today, almost everywhere that a big dam is being planned or built there is organized local opposition. In communities where existing dams have created severe problems, dam-affected people are demanding reparations.

Together with a global network of activists, we have many accomplishments to celebrate, including: 

    • Stopping destructive river projects from Brazil’s Pantanal wetlands and Southeast Asia's Mekong River, to the Amazon Basin and the river valleys of Nepal.
    • Catalyzing the formation of the World Commission on Dams, whose recommendations form a gold standard for water and energy planning.
    • Coordinating the International Day of Action for Rivers: A global celebration of healthy rivers, a day of protest against projects that would harm them, and a day of solidarity with dam-affected communities.
    • Ensuring that promises made by companies and government agencies to dam-affected communities in Lesotho, Laos, Thailand and Brazil have been kept.
    • Promoting a better way - from community watershed regeneration efforts in India to increased support for alternative energy options in Uganda - that advance economic development while protecting our rivers.

    For an interactive summary of the global movement, see our Protecting Rivers and Rights timeline.

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