Dams are a risky business – for affected people, the environment and investors. Huge cost overruns, technical problems, community opposition and rampant corruption can derail multi-billion dollar projects. Due to the big risks, finance is the weakest link in dam building.

A group of people gathered at a protest with a large sign reading Power 4 People.
International Rivers and allies demonstrate at the Power 4 People campaign in 2013, in support of the Global Indigenous Peoples’ Day of Action on Energy. | Photo by International Rivers

For many years, the World Bank Group was the most important financier of large dams. In recent years, Chinese financial institutions have taken over this role, triggering a new boom in global dam building. Some public sector national banks have followed suit, as have private banks, private equity firms and export credit agencies. Finally, dam builders are increasingly turning to climate finance as a way to bankroll the high costs of dams.

Our Work to hold Financiers Accountable

International Rivers holds public and private funders accountable. We work to dry up funding for dam projects that violate social and environmental standards, make sure funders and governments keep their promises, and redirect resources into better alternatives, including a just energy transition.

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