Policy Reform

More than 50,000 large dams have been built, and thousands more are under construction. With support from International Rivers, civil society movements work hard to stop some of the most destructive of these projects. It is just as important to change the ways by which water and energy solutions are being selected, and the standards under which they are implemented. This is the role of International Rivers’ Policy Program.

Holding dam builders and financiers accountable

International Rivers holds dam builders and financiers responsible for the impacts of their projects, and works to protect the rights of the people affected by them. Following the money, we target traditional actors such as the World Bank, the Chinese dam builders and financiers that have come to dominate the world market, and a host of other institutions. Through dialogue and campaigns, we influence which projects they fund and how they implement them. Under the motto, Infrastructure for Whom?, we also examine whom their projects benefit in the first place.

Strengthening dam standards

International Rivers works to strengthen the processes by which appropriate water and energy solutions are identified, and the standards under which they are being built. The strongest and most legitimate decision-making framework for the water and energy sector is the recommendations prepared by the independent World Commission on Dams (WCD). International Rivers upholds and promotes these recommendations.

The dam industry has never fully accepted the WCD framework. Instead it promotes voluntary corporate guidelines which would replace clear requirements and binding standards. International Rivers opposes such efforts to greenwash destructive dams.

More information: 

Report: Infrastructure for Whom?

Factsheet: The Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol

Factsheet: The World Bank's Big Dam Legacy

WCD Report: Dams and Development - a New Framework for Decision-Making