Patagonia is a region of mystery and striking diversity, a place where fjords, glaciers, coastal rainforests, dry steppes, pristine lakes and rushing rivers can all be found within a short distance of each other. Shared by Chile and Argentina, Patagonia covers much of South America’s southern cone.
The region has found itself in the crosshairs of power companies and others for decades. In 2007, two of Chilean Patagonia’s wildest rivers – the Baker and the Pascua – were threatened by a proposed cascade of five controversial megadams known as HidroAysén. Civil society mobilized, and a broad coalition of citizens, community groups, and national and international NGOs known as the Consejo de Defensa de la Patagonia (CDP, or Patagonia Defense Council) formed Patagonia Sin Represas to protect Patagonia from destructive development.
The campaign to protect Patagonia became the largest environmental struggle in Chile’s history, lasting over seven years. The tireless efforts of river defenders in Chile and around the world helped create massive popular opposition to HidroAysén – both within Chile and abroad – which eventually led to the project’s cancellation. Chile is rich in energy options.
Studies by The University of Chile and other experts have found that the country can meet its future energy needs without hydroelectric dams. Investment in energy efficiency, together with renewable sources such as solar, geothermal and wind, would ensure a sustainable energy future for Chile. International Rivers and our partners are calling for the Chilean government and the private sector to support cleaner alternatives and to keep Patagonia’s rivers wild.
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