Leaving International Rivers

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Paddy McCully & Peter Bosshard vs Bujagali Falls

Paddy McCully & Peter Bosshard vs Bujagali Falls

After 17 years with International Rivers I’m leaving at the end of January to become Executive Director of Black Rock Solar, a non-profit based in San Francisco that installs solar panels while also doing clean energy advocacy, art and education.

As Juliet told Romeo, “Parting is such sweet sorrow.” I’m excited about my new position, and also sad to be leaving my wonderful colleagues and friends inside International Rivers and in the broader global dam-fighting and river-saving movement beyond.

In my five years as Executive Director, and 12 before that as Campaigns Director, I’ve helped build International Rivers into the world’s leading organization devoted to protecting rivers and promoting sustainable alternatives to dams. Over the last five years our budget has grown (despite the Great Recession), we’ve hired more campaigners, and we’ve opened offices in Bangkok, Mumbai and Cameroon to be closer to the rivers we’re fighting to protect.

The moments from my almost two decades of dam fighting that I’ll remember most will be those times I got away from my computer and into the river valleys. Sleeping on the floors of adivasi huts beside the Narmada River. Eating barbecue with Brazilian farmers on a dam resettlement site in the Uruguay Valley. Hearing first-hand the community transformations brought about by rainwater harvesters in Rajasthan. Rafting the now-destroyed Bujagali Falls on the White Nile, and flying in a small plane over the now-saved Mary River in Australia.

I’ll also never forget the three international meetings of dam-affected peoples and their allies that we helped organize – unique encounters of peasants, indigenous people, activists and scientists, who shared experiences, strategies, songs and dances (and tequilas, beers and cachaças).

I’m very proud of the success that I’ve been a part of, not just stalling and stopping bad dams, but also the establishment of the groundbreaking World Commission on Dams, my work in forcing the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism to (partly) clean up its act, and the many analyses I’ve done showing the poor performance of dams and the superiority of alternatives.

I’m happy to say that our brilliant Campaigns Director, Aviva Imhof, will take over as Interim Executive Director on February 1. Our board co-chairs Deborah Moore and Marcia McNally are leading the effort to find a new ED. The job advertisement is posted here. If you fancy taking on one of the world’s best jobs, go ahead and apply!