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'Save rivers': Call for global action against mega dams, abuse of natural resources

Counterview Desk

The Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL), a global network, has called upon civil society and mass organisations across the to “expose the role of multinational and transnational mega-corporations, big banks, and credit agencies in the destruction of our rivers” by holding demonstrations on March 14, which happens to be the International Day of Action for Rivers.
In a concept note distributed to civil society leaders, IPMSDL stressed on the need to foster “international solidarity among communities plagued by the encroachment megadam builders”, claiming, “Huge dams were built and funded by international financial institutions, credit and lending agencies, multinational and transnational corporations backed by powerful states, with strong military forces to exploit natural resources and inundate forests, mountains, and rivers at the expense of people’s rights and welfare.”


March 14 is the International Day of Action for Rivers. This year we mark 27 years of global solidarity for the protection of our rivers against mega dams, large hydropower projects, and encroachment of our Indigenous territories. For Indigenous Peoples this means safeguarding our land, waters, and our right to live.
In 1997 Indigenous People, rural workers, fisherfolk, and small farmers gathered at the first International Meeting of People Affected by Dams. This meeting sought to address the issues that were brought about by the construction of large dams – the submerging of farmlands, destruction of fisheries, forests, and sacred places of Indigenous Peoples.
This meeting proved to be an effective first step towards fostering international solidarity among communities plagued by the encroachment megadam builders. These huge dams were built and funded by international financial institutions, credit and lending agencies, multinational and transnational corporations backed by powerful states, with strong military forces to exploit natural resources and inundate forests, mountains, and rivers at the expense of people’s rights and welfare.
The crisis of imperialism is continuously driving the world's biggest powers to seek greater and wider control over every natural resource. Big corporations have plowed our mountains, and forests flat. Rivers that sustained and provided life, culture and livelihood to Indigenous Communities are being killed off in the name profit, whilst hiding behind the guise of “green energy” and “development.”
Mega-dams and other hydropower infrastructure projects are often sold to the public as efficient means of providing clean power, water supply, and livelihood. The grim reality behind is that these projects have led to the widespread displacement of Indigenous communities, and disasters such as floods and landslides that have killed off the livelihood of Indigenous farmers.
Though only 10% of the land is officially recognized as theirs, Indigenous Peoples safeguard more than 50% of the planet. Protected ancestral territories, including our rivers, have frequently been seized, and exploited by states and corporations. Indigenous farmers have been unable to maintain their crops due to intensified military presence in Indigenous communities, and restrictions imposed by military and paramilitary forces have made it harder for Indigenous communities to freely roam their lands and bodies of water.
As the world’s powerful nations, banks and corporations are set to meet on multiple occasions throughout the year, there is great need to consolidate the demands and concerns of Indigenous Peoples, small farming communities, and the broad masses of people that rely on rivers.
In May, the Asian Development Bank is set to hold its 57th Annual Board of Governors Meeting in Georgia, following this is the World Bank’s Land Conference. With other important events coming up in the year's last quarter (i.e. the Summit of the Future, COP28). Thus it is with great importance that we are able to bring light to the issues faced by Indigenous Peoples. Our present challenges compel us to come together, consolidate our demands and register our clamor for a more just & sustainable future.
We are often sidelined, or at worst deliberately ignored in decision-making processes. This must change, the narrative must be shifted towards amplifying the demands of the people on the ground.
In this light we call for greater resistance against the offensives against our rivers, livelihood, the environment and our right to land, and self-determination. Shed light on the issues and calls of Indigenous communities, farmers, fisherfolk, and the right of the people to a more accessible, sustainable, and truly climate resilient, and people-centered development.
  1. Expose the role of multinational and transnational mega-corporations, big banks, and credit agencies in the destruction of our rivers.
  2. Condemn the use of military force to drive out Indigenous communities and make way for the entry of “development” projects that harm our rivers. Condemn the use of McCarthyism, “counter-terrorism”, and judicial harassment in silencing river defenders. 
  3. Expose the realities behind these false and greenwashing solutions to the climate crisis. 
  4. Promote a people-led alternative to the destructive, plunderous, and fascist nature of imperialist attacks on our rivers and lands. Fight for a future that respects the right to self-determination over our territories and resources.
What Can We Do?
  • Join the International Day of Action on March 14!
  • Share us your statements, testimonies and messages;
  • Organize or join river visits, celebrations, and protests along or near our rivers;
  • Hold protest actions and mobilizations;
  • Online and offline discussions and forums, dialogues, webinars, & round-table discussions;
  • Cultural gathering with songs, dance, stories to showcase our advocacy for our rivers, and ancestral domain;
  • Take a selfie or a video with our placards and calls access them here
  •  Use the hashtag #ReclaimOurRivers #RiversDay2024 on social media, and make sure to tag us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!



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