Our Approach to Impact

How change happens is important. Throughout our work, we believe these core components are critical to deliver impact and achieve our goals.

Community voices matter.

We work with river-dependent and dam-affected communities to ensure their voices are heard and their rights are respected. The communities who live near and depend upon rivers have generations of experience fishing in and farming alongside their rivers. Any solution to the freshwater crisis must deeply involve the communities who are being impacted, both drawing on their knowledge, wisdom and experience and addressing their needs and concerns. Our regional teams have spent decades developing relationships with these communities so that we can amplify their voices on the global stage to shape stronger policies.

Networks and movements build power.

Rivers are vital for farms and fisheries, energy and sanitation, economic development, biodiversity and fighting the climate crisis. Diverse coalitions and strong alliances are key to success. We help build well-resourced, active networks of civil society groups to demonstrate our collective power and create the change we seek. We provide technical expertise and campaigning support. We help our networks understand the global trends in hydropower and financing sectors, and monitor and campaign on projects that affect the world’s major rivers and ecosystems. We collaborate with a wide network of partners in civil society, academia, the media and other sectors to implement innovative approaches and timely, influential strategies. We catalyze local and international experts to advise and support the movement.

Evidence and data drive change.

Robust data and evidence is necessary to guide change. We undertake cutting-edge research and on-the ground investigations informed by the experience of river-dependent and dam-affected communities to inform policy recommendations. We carry out primary and participatory research on the value of river ecosystems as well as the impacts of dams and fragmentation on communities, ecosystems and sustainable development. We value indigenous traditional knowledge and community-generated research alongside institutional research by academics, policymakers and NGOs.

Engage stakeholders, maintain independence.

We have a track record of achieving significant conservation and livelihood impact by shifting the policies and practices of financiers, governments, and the private sector. We remain independent and fearless in campaigning to expose and resist destructive projects, while also engaging with all relevant stakeholders to develop a vision that protects rivers and the communities that depend upon them.