Rivers and watersheds seldom adhere to national boundaries. Since our founding in 1985, International Rivers has worked to build the international movement of dam-affected peoples, NGOs and academics who work to stop destructive dams, protect rivers, defend community rights and advance truly sustainable solutions at the confluence of water and energy policy. 

Our regional and international networks have become some of the most effective and sustained civil society movements in the world, representing the interests of the estimated 10% of humanity that has been directly impacted by dams.

A woman with her fist raised is in the foreground, behind her are people protesting.
A native from the Caiapo’s tribe holds a poster with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff picture during a protest in front the National Congress against the construction of Belo Monte hydroelectric dam, in Brasilia | Photo by: EVARISTO SA/AFP/Getty Images.

Our most notable victories for river protections have been collective achievements, strengthened through diversity, and the result of strong and interconnected movements. 

Our Work to Build Connections Across the Movement

Our work to support movements has been most visible through our three “Rivers for Life” meetings, the river defender gathering in 2017, and the Women and Rivers Congress in 2019. All these events have brought together river activists from around the world and created the foundation for the global movement for rivers going forward.

Our ongoing work to support movements looks different in each region, specific to political and social contexts. We work with partners and allies to articulate a shared agenda. We prioritize guidance from, and solidarity with, indigenous and ethnic minority networks, as well as inclusive strategies that ensure that women and men have equal opportunity to engage in networks and take on leadership roles.

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Rivers for Life (2010)

Susanne Wong, (USA) Gulten Aydin and Tuba Kilic, (Turkey) join the march. Flags and banners of resistance from around the world were carried throughout the town.

Rivers for Life 3: the Third International Meeting of Dam-Affected People and Their Allies was held from October 1-7, 2010 in Temacapulín, Mexico. Hundreds of representatives from dam-affected communities, NGOs and other groups from across the globe gathered to share experiences, develop collective strategies and strengthen the international movement to protect rivers and human rights.

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