Our Rivers Feed Millions

Wednesday, June 6, 2012
From June 2012 World Rivers Review River systems support the Earth’s highest biological diversity – and the most intense human activity. As a consequence of decades of humans exploiting rivers with large dams, water diversions and pollution, our rivers and the life they support are in a state of crisis. Large dams flood productive lands, fragment habitat, isolate species, and cut off migration routes. They reduce water and sediment flows to downstream lands, and change the nature of a river’s estuary, where many of the world’s fish species spawn. These changes are creating crises in f

A Billion Reasons to Invest in Distributed Clean Energy Access

Wednesday, June 6, 2012
From June 2012 World Rivers ReviewToday the world's population is growing at about the same rate as the population gaining access to electricity. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) this means that in 2030 there will only be a decrease in the un-electrified population of 23% (a drop from 1.3 to 1 billion). What's worse, nearly 2.5 billion people today considered "electrified" receive only a few hours of electricity per day. In essence we are losing the battle to light the world. Delivering energy access is therefore one of the central issues for world policymakers to grapple

Putting Rivers on the Agenda in Rio

Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Commentary: June 2012 World Rivers ReviewIn the preparations for the twentieth anniversary conference of the Earth Summit, the word “Rio” flows from everyone’s lips. But are rivers properly integrated into the consciousness – and agenda – of organizers of the official proceedings? This UN Conference on Sustainable Development – returning to Rio de Janeiro, which hosted the historic Earth Summit in 1992 – brings together governments, corporations, and a subset of NGOs in the official proceedings, while thousands of civil society groups – including International Rivers – will

The Amazon: Dirty Dams, Dirty Politics and the Myth of Clean Energy

Wednesday, June 6, 2012
From June 2012 World Rivers Review A growing trend in Brazil and other countries is to portray large hydroelectric dams as a source of "clean energy" critical to powering a “green economy.” This catchphrase is resounding at a number of international bodies, including Rio+20, which seeks to prioritize market solutions that reflect the interests of powerful economic and political groups. The risk, now being borne out in Brazil’s dam industry, is the undermining of protections for human rights, ecosystem health and democratic decision-making. Despite calls for “sustainable development

Rio+20 and Brazil's Policy on Climate Change

Sunday, April 29, 2012
As host to the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Brazil will draw international attention to its policy on climate change, but the measures announced so far are not commensurate with the recently set reduction goal.

Dam Project Threatens a Way of Life in Peru

Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Originally published in The New York Times BOCA SANIBENI, Peru — Along the murky waters of the Ene River, in a remote jungle valley on the verdant eastern slopes of the Andes, the rhythmic humming of an outboard motor draws the stares of curious Ashaninka children. With encroachment from settlers and speculators, and after a devastating war against Shining Path rebels a decade ago, the indigenous Ashaninkas’ hold is precarious. And they are now facing a new peril, the proposed 2,200-megawatt Pakitzapango hydroelectric dam, which would flood much of the Ene River valley. The project is pa

Worker Revolts Delay Mega-Projects in Brazil

Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Originally published at IPS News/TerraViva. PORTO VELHO, Brazil, Apr 25, 2012 (IPS) - In Grenoble, France, there is a 40-metre-long scale model of the Jirau dam that is being built in Brazil’s Amazon jungle. The exact replica of the project makes is possible to foresee and analyse possible risks, such as the heavy flow of sediment in the Madeira River. But "the model does not take people into account," which is why it did not help anticipate the workers’ uprisings and strikes against poor working conditions that have twice held up construction for lengthy periods of time since 2011, said

Belo Monte Dam: A spearhead for Brazil’s dam-building attack on Amazonia?

Monday, March 19, 2012
Brazil's Belo Monte Dam on the Xingu River is now under construction despite its many controversies. The Brazilian government has launched an unprecedented drive to dam the Amazon's tributaries, and Belo Monte is the spearhead for its efforts. Brazil's 2011-2020 energy-expansion plan calls for building 48 additional large dams, of which 30 would be in the country's Legal Amazon region1. Building 30 dams in 10 years means an average rate of one dam every four months in Brazilian Amazonia through 2020. Of course, the clock doesn't stop in 2020, and the total number of planned dams in Brazilian A

A Life in Extremis

Yang Yong, in the wilds of Tibet.
From March 2012 World Rivers ReviewYang Yong, in the wilds of Tibet. Geologist-Explorer Documents China’s RiversYang Yong is a renowned explorer and the director of the Hengduan Mountain Research Society, whose mission is to promote the conservation and sustainable development of a large mountain range in southwest China known for its biodiversity (including the Giant Panda) and the three major rivers that cut through the range: the Yangtze, Salween (Nu) and Mekong rivers. The group has been instrumental in increasing understanding of the biomes of western China and the impacts that devel

Big Dreams, Small (and Clever) Projects

DWC helped implement this solar pumping station in Ethiopia.
Sunday, March 25, 2012
From March 2012 World Rivers ReviewDWC helped implement this solar pumping station in Ethiopia. Oliver Kopsch is a clean-energy enabler. His company, DecRen Water Consult (DWC), based in Germany, designs decentralized water systems powered by renewable energies. We talked to Oliver about his approach, and lessons learned from some recent projects. The business model.We are a private commercial company, based in Germany. We started about 10 years ago, after a few of us came to the conclusion that we weren’t doing what we were meant to do. We started by selling solar desalination products,


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