Declaration on the Myth of Destructive Dams as Clean Energy and the Urgent Need to Protect Rivers

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Healthy rivers provide clean water essential for life on Earth. Following the Rio+20 Earth Summit's failure to recognize the irreversible destruction of rivers and livelihoods caused by large-scale dam projects, we, civil groups have joined dam-affected communities to launch a global movement to denounce the myth of large-scale dams as clean energy and an appropriate technology for “sustainable development”.

A global network of dam-affected and dam-threatened communities and their allies is guided by the interests of more than half a billion people impacted by the damming of rivers. This movement aims to draw attention to the impact of large-scale dams on nature, culture and people, and prioritize healthy rivers as one of the most critical natural components for sustaining life on Earth.

As became clear during Rio+20, the interests of large corporations and governments such as those of Brazil and Turkey, are promoting destructive dams as “renewable energy”, as a viable component of a so-called “green economy”, and as a solution to climate change. Yet, as documented through the World Commission on Dams and proven in scientific studies throughout the world, rivers — once dammed — suffer devastating and irreversible environmental damage.

Large hydroelectric dams are fueling the last century’s dirty industries, now redressed as a “Green Economy” in Rio+20. National and regional dependence on hydropower also poses financial and ecological risks in a changing and increasingly variable climate — while also contributing to significant emissions of greenhouse gases. As witnessed by representatives at the People’s Forum, large-scale dams continue to displace people and cause irreversible ecological and cultural destruction.

We resolve to strengthen the movement of dam-impacted and dam-threatened peoples and their allies that recognize the planetary crises facing Earth’s rivers. Today, we draw attention to examples of destructive dams, such as Belo Monte in the Brazilian Amazon and Ilisu Dam in Mesopotamia, Turkey. These two dam projects are a clear threat to the world’s most important and renowned natural and historical assets: the Amazon, the lungs of the earth, and Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilization.

We invite all civil groups that share concerns for preserving the world’s rivers as a basic source of life to join forces to further strengthen this movement.

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