About the Meeting

Rivers for Life 3 brought together dam-affected people and NGO representatives from across the globe to share experiences, ideas and skills, and discuss future cooperation. The specific objectives of the meeting were to:
  • Strengthen regional and international networks
    The village of Temaca, our Rivers for Life 3 gathering place
    The village of Temaca, our Rivers for Life 3 gathering place
  • Create new alliances
  • Evaluate progress
  • Share information and skills
  • Develop collective strategies
  • Inspire and recharge the international movement to protect rivers and rights.

The meeting was also organized in Temacapulín, Mexico to strengthen the movement to stop the Zapotillo Dam. The people of Temacapulín are strongly opposed to this project and would be evicted from their homes if it proceeds. Learn more about the meeting venue and Zapotillo campaign.

What happened during Rivers for Life 3?

International Rivers worked in cooperation with an international Steering Committee to develop the meeting agenda. This process was designed to incorporate the needs and wishes of dam-affected communities and their allies. The five-day meeting included forums for dam-affected people to share experiences, plenary sessions; training workshops on fundraising, organizing and strategizing; discussions on dams and climate change; and strategy sessions to discuss how to combat new dam funders such as the China Export Import Bank. Learn more about the meeting program.

Background information

The first two meetings of dam-affected people and their allies helped catalyze the global anti-dam movement. Dam fighters from 20 countries gathered for the first meeting in 1997 in Curitiba, Brazil. The meeting, organized by Brazil’s Movement of Dam-Affected People, provided an unprecedented opportunity for environmental and human rights activists to strengthen the movement and devise collective strategies. Participants created the Curitiba Declaration, which called for a moratorium on dambuilding and established March 14th as the International Day of Action Against Dams and for Rivers, Water and Life.

About 300 people from 62 countries attended the second meeting in Rasi Salai, Thailand in 2003. Staying on the banks of the restored Mun River, participants reported having a “once-in-a-lifetime experience” and were inspired by Thailand’s successful dam decommissioning movement. The meeting provided opportunities to discuss outcomes of the World Commission on Dams process and plot future strategies. Watch the video from Rasi Salai.

Since our last meeting in 2003, much has changed. Multilateral banks have backed regional infrastructure initiatives in the global South, which could lay the groundwork for more big dam construction. Increasingly, dams are being financed by Southern governments and companies that show little concern for upholding national laws or humanrights. Furthermore, dams are being promoted as a solution to climate change despite concerns about how a changing climate will affect their performance.

Rivers for Life 3 brought together hundreds of dam-affected people and their allies to strengthen the international movement to protect rivers and the communities that depend on them.

This meeting was organized with generous financial support from the Sigrid Rausing Trust, the Kendeda Fund, Oxfam Australia, Novib, the American Jewish World Service, Swedish Society for Nature Conservation and the Gellert Family Foundation. The following organizations also provided support for participants to travel to the meeting: Global Greengrants, IUCN - Central America, CASA, Both Ends, Stiftung Umverteilen, Ford Foundation and the Rosa Luxembourg Foundation. 

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