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 About International Rivers Network

International Rivers Network protects rivers and defends the rights of communities that depend on them. IRN opposes destructive dams and the development model they advance, and encourages better ways of meeting people’s needs for water, energy and protection from damaging floods. Read quotes about IRN


IRN seeks a world in which rivers and the ecosystems they support are valued, and the importance of the links between healthy environments and healthy societies is understood. We envision a world where development projects neither degrade nature nor impoverish people, and where all people have a voice in decisions affecting their lives and livelihoods.


IRN’s mission is to protect rivers and defend the rights of communities that depend on them. IRN opposes destructive dams and the development model they advance, and encourages better ways of meeting people’s needs for water and energy and protection from destructive floods. To achieve this mission, IRN collaborates with a global network of local communities, social movements, non–governmental organizations and other partners. Through research, education and advocacy, IRN works to halt destructive river infrastructure projects, address the legacies of existing projects, improve development policies and practices, and promote water and energy solutions for a just and sustainable world. The primary focus of IRN’s work is in the global South.


IRN has adopted a two–pronged approach, combining work on changing global policies with campaigning on specific key projects around the world. We do this because we understand that effective lobbying for policy change must include specific project examples, and that fighting successive individual projects without addressing root causes is not an efficient use of our resources nor will it decelerate the pace of destructive project construction.

We work with environmental and human rights groups around the world in cooperative campaigns for community–based river development. Our involvement depends on our services being independently requested by credible, like–minded non–governmental organizations or by individuals from project–affected communities. In all our work, we rely on the leadership provided by the people directly affected by dams and other large water intervention projects.

IRN undertakes in–depth research and provides project critiques, analysis of alternatives, and activist briefings. We monitor and critique the policies of financial institutions including the World Bank and provide substantial analysis and recommendations for reforming their practices. We mobilize international support from our network of activists and experts, assist in fundraising for campaigns at the local level, and generate publicity through industry, alternative, and mainstream media.


IRN was established in 1985 as a nonprofit all–volunteer organization of activists experienced in fighting economically, environmentally, and socially unsound river intervention projects. Aware that similar projects and struggles were happening in other countries, IRN opened a communication channel with local river activists worldwide. In 1989, IRN began to develop a staff of experienced activists trained in economics, biology, engineering, hydrology, anthropology, and environmental sciences. Over the years, IRN has increased its permanent staff to more than fifteen and created a worldwide network of supporters, funders, advisors, interns and volunteers.

 Additional Information

For further information, please contact:

    International Rivers Network
    Tel: +1 510–848–1155
    E–mail: irn@irn.org