From Crisis to Opportunity: COVID-19 and the Future of our Rivers

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

In response to current challenges facing rivers and our partners working in river dependent communities, International Rivers is organizing a webinar to stay connected and engaged. We invite you to join us to hear voices from representatives working on the ground, words of inspiration, and opportunities for re-envisioning a healthier future. Learn more about the webinar and how to participate below!

From Crisis to Opportunity:
COVID-19 and the Future of our Rivers
with International Rivers and Jane Hirshfield

Tuesday, May 19, 2020
5:00 pm PST/ 8:00 pm EST USA time
Registration is required - register here


The global COVID-19 crisis has shed a light on the deep seated inequities in the way our rivers and the people who depend on them are treated. Throughout critical river basins such as the Amazon and the Mekong, dam-building and destructive development has continued with little regulation or oversight. Governments from the US to Brazil are justifying development and infrastructure at any cost as part of the economic recovery, while putting communities at risk of exposure and destroying their traditional lands, waters, and livelihoods.

With the exposure created by this crisis comes an opportunity. As International Rivers adapts to current circumstances, we are doing what we can to support partners on the ground to cope with immediate needs, while also re-imagining a healthier future for our rivers. We see it as critical that we prepare ourselves and our networks to be in a place to advance new and formidable solutions, from permanent river protections, to community-owned and operated micro hydropower projects that provide energy sovereignty and improved livelihoods while maintaining ecosystem balance.

We invite you to join us for an interactive webinar on May 19, 5pm pacific time. Monti Aguirre of our Latin America program, and Pai Deetes of our Southeast Asia program will share stories, current challenges, and emerging wisdom from their work with communities on the ground, while helping us envision a healthier future for rivers. We will be joined by the renowned poet and activist Jane Hirshfield, who inspires social change and a deep responsibility to protect our natural world through her art.


Registration for this Zoom webinar is required. Please register here:

To ensure the security of our participants and speakers we ask that you register for the webinar on Zoom. We encourage joining via Zoom to participate in the conversation and ask questions. If you do not want to register, you are welcome to view the webinar on our Facebook, where we will be streaming the event live.

If you need support registering or have any questions, please contact


Jane Hirshfield
Award-winning poet Jane Hirshfield, in poems described by The Washington Post as belonging “among the modern masters” and by The New York Times as “passionate and radiant,” addresses the urgent immediacies of our time. Jane will be reading from her latest book released this year, Ledger, which calls us to “deepen dimensions of thought, feeling, and action,” and to “summon our responsibility to sustain one another and the earth while pondering, acutely and tenderly, the crises of refugees, justice, and climate.”

Monti Aguirre
Monti supports local movements across Latin America for the protection of rivers. She has worked for more than a decade in support of Amazon indigenous peoples’ rights and is co-producer of Amazonia: Voices From the Rainforest, a film on the fight of grassroots groups in the Amazon to defend their lives and their land. She has also been a tireless supporter of the people affected by Chixoy Dam in Guatemala. Monti is International Rivers' Latin America Program Coordinator.

Pai Deetes
Based in the Mekong Region, Pai work focuses on protecting the Mekong River from dams proposed for its mainstream, and in particular on Thailand's role as dam developer and the main intended market for the hydroelectricity. Pai has spent her life working to empower communities living alongside the Mekong and Salween rivers to protect their rivers, rights and livelihoods. Pai currently works as International Rivers' Thailand and Burma Campaigns Director.

Michael Simon (moderator)
Michael Simon is a river advocate committed to community rights. For more than 20 years, Michael has supported river communities’ rights over rivers and watershed resources; indigenous peoples rights over waters and lands; and improved assessment of gendered impacts of development related to rivers and hydropower. Michael is the Interim Executive Director of International Rivers.

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