Rivers are essential to life on the planet. Free-flowing rivers act as the planet’s arteries, providing ecosystems with critical freshwater, nurturing animal and plant life, recharging fertility in floodplains and providing nutrients to deltas, estuaries and near-shore reefs.
They are also the cornerstones of cultural and spiritual practices for diverse groups around the world. However, dams and other destructive developments are fragmenting rivers and their ecosystems, driving an unprecedented loss of freshwater habitat and biodiversity.
Current legal protections for rivers are often unclear, weak or insufficient, leaving rivers and communities vulnerable. While we’ve stopped many bad projects over the years, even a big win can feel short-lived without permanent protections. In truth, bad projects (and what we call “zombie dams”) have a way of rearing their heads repeatedly, year after year.
But there is another way. In the United States, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act has shown that governments and communities can band together to protect our most precious rivers.
Our Work to Support Permanent Protections for Rivers
That’s why we are working with local communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America to prioritize key rivers for permanent legal protection and restoration. We’re collaborating with legal experts to identify gaps in the law and crafting legislation to vibrant, healthy, free-flowing rivers. We’re developing scientific evidence to justify protections, evaluating the feasibility of permanent legal protections, and working to strengthen and support river protection movements.
Join the call!
Rivers are essential to all life. Rivers play a vital role in the functioning of the Earth hydrologic cycle and are the lifeblood for cultures around the globe. Help us ensure the permanent protection of rivers by signing the Universal Declaration for the Rights of Rivers!
- Wild Rivers Law: contributions to the ecosystem and local development that urge progress in the protection of rivers in Chile (2020)
- What is the National River Protection Group? (2019)
- “Wild Rivers Law”: the environmentalist proposal that seeks to “preserve and restore” the rivers of Chile (2019)
- Conclusions Meeting of Defensores / as Rivers by Foro Social Panamazonico (2019)
- Free Flowing Rivers, Sustaining Livelihoods, Cultures and Ecosystems (2018)
- How the Rights of Nature Movement Can Protect Rivers in Brazilby Flavio Montiel, International Rivers’ Brazil Manager Last month, I had the opportunity to participate in the second Brazilian Rights of Nature Forum held in Ilhéus, Brazil. The forum served … Read more
- The Marañón River Raises its Voice: A Historic Rights of Nature CaseBy Monti Aguirre of International Rivers and Javier Ruiz of Earth Law Center In a historic milestone for the protection of the Amazon rivers, the Marañón River in Peru has … Read more
- Universal recognition for the Rights of Nature grows at UN event in BrazilOver the past few days, International Rivers had the incredible privilege of participating in a groundbreaking event that spotlighted the increasingly vital concept of the “Rights of Nature” in Brazil. … Read more
- Why river protection needs to be addressed at this week’s Amazon SummitBy Flávio Montiel, International Rivers – Brazil The Amazon Summit, one of the most important environmental meetings of the year, is taking place this week in Brazil. Representatives from the … Read more