History & Accomplishments

Over the years, numerous friends in the movement here in South Asia and other parts of the world, have seen International Rivers as an integral part of our collective struggle. – Smitu Kothari, Lokayan and Intercultural Resources, India

In 1985, a small group of volunteers formed International Rivers Network. Their vision was simple and yet remarkably ambitious: to develop a worldwide network of people working to protect rivers and promote just and sustainable water and energy development.

Today, almost everywhere that a big dam is being planned or built, there is organized local opposition. In communities where existing dams have created severe problems, dam-affected people are demanding reparations.

By the Numbers: Our Accomplishments

217: Number of dam projects we’ve held up, prevented or stopped, in collaboration with our partners around the world.

859: Number of NGO partners around the world.

1 Million: Number of unique visitors to our website, 2013-2015.

231: Number of countries visitors to our website hailed from, 2013-15.

317,000: Number of people reached globally by our International Day of Action for Rivers.

31: Average number of countries hosting Day of Action events since 1998. 

295: Reports published in  21 languages.

3: Meetings of dam-affected peoples (Rivers for Life).

24: Number of river basins we’ve worked in, covering 17% of the earth’s total land area.

277: Number of grassroots organizations our programs regranted money to fight for rivers across Africa, Latin America, and Asia.

19: Number of our partners and collaborators who’ve won a Goldman Environmental Prize.

1: Number of MacArthur “genius” awards for creative organizations we’ve won. (2013)

Together with a global network of activists, we have: 

    • Stopped destructive river projects from Brazil’s Pantanal wetlands and Southeast Asia's Mekong River, to the Amazon Basin and the river valleys of Nepal.
    • Catalyzed the formation of the World Commission on Dams, whose recommendations form a gold standard for water and energy planning.
    • Coordinated the International Day of Action for Rivers: A global celebration of healthy rivers, a day of protest against projects that would harm them, and a day of solidarity with dam-affected communities.
    • Ensured that promises made by companies and government agencies to dam-affected communities in Lesotho, Laos, Thailand and Brazil have been kept.
    • Promoted a better way - from community watershed regeneration efforts in India to increased support for alternative energy options in Uganda - that advance economic development while protecting our rivers.

    For an interactive summary of the global movement, see our Protecting Rivers and Rights timeline.

    Read more about our successes here. 

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