International Rivers

Image: iStock

Synchronicity Earth, provided core funding to International Rivers for the first time in 2017 to support their work building a stronger global movement of grassroots organisations working to protect their local river systems.

Rivers are a hotspot for biodiversity, they contain just 0.0006% of Earth’s water yet are home to almost a third of vertebrate species. Rivers also nourish  floodplains, feed sediment to inland and coastal deltas as rich in life as the Okavango and the Mekong, and play important roles in sustaining healthy marine and terrestrial ecosystems such as coral reefs and riparian forests.

Despite their importance to life on Earth, rivers have been one of the most drastically altered ecosystems by human development. Over the past century more than 50,000 large dams have been built. And, in the past 50 years, water abstraction has tripled, and 80% of wastewater continues to be discharged without treatment. This has had dramatic implications not only for the world’s freshwater biodiversity –  in river systems 34% of species are estimated to be threatened with extinction – but also for the people who live on their banks. 472 million people are estimated to have been negatively affected by dam development alone.

International Rivers are at the forefront of the effort to conserve the world’s river systems. As one of the only international NGOs working to conserve rivers and support the rights of the people who also depend on these systems, the organisation plays a key role in raising awareness of the threats to the world’s rivers and advocating for their protection and sustainable management. The organisation operationalises its global strategy through six regional offices, and a far larger network of local grassroots partners. They are a key partner in our freshwater programme.

At A Glance