The global COVID-19 crisis has shed a light on the deep seated inequities in the way our rivers and the people who depend on them are treated. Throughout critical river basins such as the Amazon and the Mekong, dam-building and destructive development has continued with little regulation or oversight. Governments from the US to Brazil are justifying development and infrastructure at any cost as part of the economic recovery, while putting communities at risk of exposure and destroying their traditional lands, waters, and livelihoods. To fast-track destructive projects at this time would pose devastation to indigenous and traditional communities, and vulnerable river ecosystems.
Join the call for governments, developers, and financiers to support a moratorium on new dams, and to prioritize energy development which respects the health of river ecosystems, community rights and energy justice.
With the exposure created by this crisis comes an opportunity. As International Rivers adapts to current circumstances, we are doing what we can to support partners on the ground to cope with immediate needs, while also re-imagining a healthier future for our rivers. We see it as critical that we prepare ourselves and our networks to be in a place to advance new and formidable solutions, from permanent river protections, to community-owned and operated micro hydropower projects that provide energy sovereignty and improved livelihoods while maintaining ecosystem balance.
Yesterday we were joined by a global audience of river and water defenders and allies to hear from some of our representatives on the ground: Pai Deetes, our Thailand and Burma Campaigns Director, and Monti Aguirre, our Latin America Program Coordinator. Together we shared stories, current challenges, and emerging wisdom from their work with communities on the ground, while envisioning a healthier future for rivers. We will be sharing these stories from the rivers of the Mekong, the Amazon, as well as the Congo and the Brahmaputra/Ganges, in a blog series to come on current challenges and opportunities posed by the pandemic.
For those protecting rivers around the world, one thing is clear: now is the time to act. In spite of growing economic uncertainties around dam construction, and the global lockdown, new dam projects and other destructive forms of industrial development are still proceeding. Projects that pose extreme threats to biodiversity, our ability to slow the climate crisis, and the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people. The world cannot afford for these “business as usual” projects to proceed.
That’s why we’re calling on governments, developers, and financiers to support a moratorium on new dams, and to prioritize energy development which respects the health of river ecosystems, community rights and energy justice. We invite you to join us in this call, share with your networks, and stay tuned for more developments in coming weeks.