Water is essential for life on earth. But for too long, river and water defenders  people who’ve dedicated their lives to protecting our most precious resource have labored in obscurity, starved of resources, and often facing persecution for their courageous work.

As a result, our waterways have been polluted, neglected and fragmented, transformed from vibrant, connected ecosystems that support humans and wildlife alike to stagnant dead zones.

The Movement to Protect Rivers

The movement to protect a river is often local, but the consequences of failing to protect a river are global: displacement, food insecurity, loss of biodiversity. And yet global decision-makers have often overlooked rivers in their conservation work. 

Healthy rivers feed our most vulnerable people, sustain some of our most diverse ecosystems, protect us from floods and droughts, and are central to the cultural identity of so many people around the world. It’s time to galvanize policymakers to understand the critical importance of rivers and to finally make firm commitments to protect them.

Our Work

As we embark upon this new era at International Rivers, we are ready to deliver this transformation. In the past three decades, we’ve grown from a small group of volunteers into a global organization with offices in every region where we work. We will mobilize our vast networks, armed with cutting-edge research, to change how governments and corporations operate. We believe in the power of people to achieve great change. 

We must seize this moment to protect the world’s life-giving waterways, because they are fundamental to the health and wellbeing of our people and this planet. And they will help us survive the coming climate chaos: Healthy rivers with intact floodplains are our best defense against the increasingly frequent and severe floods and droughts wrought by climate change.

This is a challenging time, with repressive governments on the rise and climate change threatening. But rivers and water provide a new vision one of cooperation across boundaries. We are inspired by the many water defenders finding creative and innovative ways to achieve tangible impact, even under corrupt, authoritarian regimes. 

We are in the midst of a major energy transformation one that will take us from environmentally destructive, centralized models of energy generation to decentralized solutions that empower communities while protecting the environment. We look forward to finding a new way forward together.