International Rivers making sure we have healthy rivers and a healthy planet
International Rivers, otherwise known as a, “global environmental and social justice non-profit organization focused on protecting rivers and the rights of those that depend on them.” Essentially, International Rivers envisage a utopia in which everyone has an opportunity to influence decisions that affect their lives.
Have you ever wanted to change, inspire or improve the world but just didn’t know how? There are a number of ways to do this; for example, you could invest your time in a global issue, including clean water, poverty and energy. Now if, at this point in the article, you are still unsure how to begin, I’ve already given you a NAME. Before you continue, have a look at their website: http://www.internationalrivers.org/
With International Rivers’ aid spreading across various parts of the world, including Latin America, China and Asian one can only wonder how such a phenomenal organisation came about. Well, it all starts with identifying a global issue that you wish to improve or change.
For all you change-makers, innovators and young soon-to-be leaders, I am sure you will want to take note of the information that I hope will satisfy your curious appetites. The following name will be one to remember: Katy Yan, the author of Protecting Rivers and Rights: The World Commission on Dams Recommendations in Action. As a current worker for International Rivers, she takes an interest in the world and its resources, as I am sure many of you also do.
In the words of Katy, “Our wellbeing is inextricably linked to the health of our natural resources.” She further states that, “In college, [she] … became increasingly interested in the nexus of energy, water, and poverty in Southeast Asia.” She echoes the values reflected in International Rivers: http://www.internationalrivers.org/en/mission
Of course with any initiative or activity you embark on there will always be difficulties. As this widely known yet understated phrase reinforces, “anything worth having is worth working extremely hard for”. As Katy expresses, “As a team, we face a number of challenges, including the sensitivity of the topics that we deal with (our website for instance is banned in China), the lack of transparency and information on particular projects, and balancing the needs of the different stakeholders with whom we work.” - Such challenges can make any person give up or feel defeated. However, we all must strive to overcome adversity and persist to improve the world through education.
Despite such challenges, Katy reinforces that, “Through this movement, we have seen the rate of large dam construction decrease over the years and the policies of traditional dam financiers improve.”
If your curious minds are still urging for more information, please visit the following website for more of their accomplishments: http://www.internationalrivers.org/en/node/1569.
Despite their successes, recent challenges have emerged in the form of new dam builders and financiers, such as China, Brazil and India. In the words of Katy, “Hydropower dams in particular are seeing resurgence as the hydropower industry and its allies try to promote large hydropower dams as a clean source of energy, while downplaying or ignoring the serious environmental and social costs of these massively ill-conceived projects.”
-How they will overcome this? As you read this, they are developing a set of policy and communication strategies that include increasing education and public awareness about why it is the wrong climate for damming rivers, and why humanity needs healthy rivers more than ever.
Like all of you reading this, Katy also has her own goals and future plans: “Environmental education is a critical long-term strategy for protecting our natural resources and developing the next generation of stewards for our environment and our rights.”
If you will take anything from this article, let it be passion to utilize your skills and interests to make not only yourself, but the world, a much safer, more just environment to live. After all, where would we be without organizations like International Rivers that have identified global issues, used the skills of its members and attempted to educate the world in order to make change? I am sure you already know the answer but I’d ask you not to wait any longer, click on the following link and get involved or simply learn more about our world: http://www.internationalrivers.org/en/day-of-action
Ada Onunkwo is a member of the Youth Advisory Group member of the National Maritime Museum and a volunteer for Epilepsy Action. She is determined to bring fascinating changes around in every possible way. And she chose YL magazine as, to her, it’s the most fascinating change-making platform.