Goal 2: Hold Corporations Accountable

For the next week, we'll be exploring the six goals that will guide our work for the next five years, as part of the launch of our new Strategic Plan. Read the whole series! 


Water is a human right. Its inherent properties underpin life and ecosystems, yet far too often water is treated solely as a commodity. Companies seek to dam or divert rivers for profit, and in the process they undermine the environmental, social and cultural values of rivers.

Several years ago, International Rivers and communities around the world saw that a new player had emerged in the global dam industry: Chinese corporations. These companies were driving a new global dam-building boom, but few in civil society had any idea about how to engage with them. Rather than shy away from the challenge, we rose to the occasion, engaging these companies in unprecedented discussions. We looked for ways to make sure that these companies upheld strong social and environmental standards. And the good news is, they're listening.  

We have found, time and again, that we and our partners in river movements around the world can engage with the world’s largest dam-building companies. We can evaluate their environmental and social standards and compare them with international best practice  and hold them to their word.

Through this work, we monitor compliance and advocate for company commitments to the highest international laws, standards and policies, such as those articulated in our Dam Standards guidebook. We document poor performance in specific projects and advocate for redress, including through the judicial system. We monitor and expose projects that harm the environment and undermine human rights to influence the private sector and its supporters. And we engage in dialogue and debates with governments and financiers about standards and safeguards for the private sector.

Destructive large dams are not just bad policy  they’re big business. By working with the companies behind these behemoths, we can shift their corporate practices to better respect people and the environment.

Goal 2: By 2022, private sector entities and state-owned enterprises involved in developing and operating water infrastructure will be accountable respecting human rights of communities and preserving river basin ecosystems in their policy frameworks and practice. 

Monday, October 2, 2017