European Green Climate Finance Taxonomy: River fragmentation should not be funded by the EU money!

European Green Climate Finance Taxonomy: River fragmentation should not be funded by the EU money!

International anti-dam protest in Georgia, where many dams are funded by the EU institutions

The Rivers without Boundaries International Coalition provided recommendations “On Hydropower and Infrastructure for Water Transport Impacts on Freshwater Bodies, Ecosystems and Species” as its submission on Draft Delegated Act (DA) on Sustainable-finance and EU classification-system-for-green-investments.

The text of draft DA dilutes and weakens recommendations made to European commission by special Technical Expert Group tasked to draft this legislation. The RwB raises six important points:

1) The RwB is deeply concerned that EC does not follow the TEG’s advice that “Construction of new hydropower should not lead to increase fragmentation of rivers” is a fundamental requirement and that the use of hydropower at natural water bodies has not been limited to maintenance and modernization of existing facilities. In October 2020, 150 NGOs have asked that that no new hydrodams should be built in Europe.

In December 320 NGOs issued “Rivers for Recovery” Statement and Report ( urging governments and IFI stop construction of dams on natural water bodies as the first step to restore health of rivers. (See attachment). The Do No Significant Harm (DNSH) criteria must state that no new hydropower plants should be built in Europe or using European finance. At the very least we recommend bringing upfront the requirement not to allow increase in river fragmentation proposed by the TEG.

2) We are extremely concerned that the draft DA abandons the TEG’s recommendation that “construction of small hydropower <10MW should be avoided”. In Europe and globally small hydro has resulted in massive cumulative impacts on streams in sensitive ecosystems, while this technology cannot make any significant contribution to climate change mitigation, .so the Draft DA must exclude small hydropower (<10MW) completely.

3) The RwB believes that on the infrastructure for water transport, the draft DA unacceptably expanded the scope advised by TEG, which proposed only infrastructure that is needed to ensure the day-to-day delivery of a transport service e.g. fuelling/charging facilities. The TEG specifically excluded the canalization and fragmentation of rivers, but the EC proposes to include construction of waterways, dams and dykes and other infrastructure as well as the dredging of waterways. The draft act must revert back to the TEG’s scope, prohibit further fragmentation of rivers and exclude dredging, channeling waterways, building of dams and dykes.

4) Regarding the operation of existing hydropower plants and infrastructure for water transport the DA should refer consistently to the Water Framework Directive in the DNSH criteria on water, stating that “all necessary mitigation measures should be implemented to reach good ecological status or potential”, without mentioning “technical feasibility”.

5) Dam decommissioning and removal of other barriers in natural streams must be explicitly included as activity in its own right into the draft DA, while now it is proposed only as “compensation” for construction of new hydro.

6) Activities outside EU. Requirements should be strengthened in the Ecosystem and Biodiversity section of DNSH with full consideration for legal protection of endangered and migratory species: “For sites/operations located in or near biodiversity-sensitive areas (including the Natura 2000 network of protected areas, UNESCO World Heritage sites and Key Biodiversity Areas, as well as other protected areas and key habitats of endangered and migratory species recognized according to international and national legislation), an appropriate assessment, where applicable, has been conducted and based on its conclusions the necessary mitigation measures are implemented. Those measures have been identified to ensure that the project, plan or activity will not have any significant effects on the conservation objectives set forth for the protected area or populations of endangered and migratory species defined by international or national legislation (e.g. by Bonn Convention on Migratory Species or national lists of endangered species )”.

Eugene Simonov.

Coordinator Rivers without Boundaries International Coalition



Arabic, Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian) , Español (Spanish) , ဗမာ (Burmese), монгол (Mongolian) , ไทย (Thai), 中文 (Chinese) , Português (Portuguese) , Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese) , Français (French) , Pусский (Russian), English (below)


Rivers for Recovery:
A global call to protect rivers and rights as essential for a just and green recovery[1]

The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting public health and economic crises are devastating populations around the globe, affecting marginalized and vulnerable groups most acutely. The massive, transformational shocks these crises have produced for our current economic, energy, and food systems require an equally transformational response, to address widespread economic collapse, hunger, unemployment, and environmental damage, centered in concerns for social justice and ecological integrity. 

Rivers and freshwater ecosystems are vital to a post-COVID global economic recovery. They underpin our natural systems, provide critical ecosystem services, and work as an economic safety net for the poor and vulnerable in many low- and middle-income countries. Yet, for generations, these arteries of the planet have been dammed, diverted, and polluted at a catastrophic cost to people and Earth’s living systems. One in three freshwater species is now threatened with extinction. 

Today’s tragic pandemic sheds new light on the fundamental inequities and challenges of our time, providing an opportunity to change course on the historic degradation of our rivers and freshwater systems into the future. Our natural systems are integral to life on earth; for too long we have taken them for granted, and exploited them to drive profit and “development” for the primary benefit of a privileged minority. Globally, we understand that this trajectory has been unsustainable.

A new paradigm in river stewardship is critical, not only to safeguard the water sources that are indispensable to life and public health, but to help prevent countries bankrupted by COVID-19 from taking on calamitous new debt, speed a just energy transition, and effectively confront the climate crisis. The current push to escalate dam-building in many low and middle income countries threatens such progress—a false energy solution that the hydropower industry is promoting under the guise of a “green” economic recovery. 

A false path to economic recovery is one that expands crippling debt for countries already struggling under massive debt burdens, prioritizes “green-washed” solutions that divert scarce funds away from better alternatives, promotes large centralized grids designed around destructive projects, such as mega-dams and fossil fuels, weakens environmental and social safeguards, and continues the abuse of our freshwater resources.

Hydropower dams carry extremely high environmental and social impacts—they are a false solution and cannot deliver a green recovery. By comparison, investments in solar and wind technologies are affordable, quickly deployable, and can deliver jobs cost-effectively in the economic recovery. In order to rebuild towards a better future, economic stimulus packages should invest in low-impact technologies and those that benefit vulnerable populations and ecosystems, prioritizing community rights and participation rather than bailing out destructive industries that are rapidly losing relevance and financing.     

We call for a recovery that is rooted in climate justice and protects our rivers as critical lifelines—supporting biodiversity, water supply, food production, Indigenous peoples, and other culturally diverse populations around the world –- rather than damming and polluting them in pursuit of profit and economic growth.

We call for a green economic recovery thatincludes:

  • A moratorium on new hydropower dams as an essential step towards a sustainable and just economic recovery.  This should be accompanied by a comprehensive review of energy systems and pipeline projects to ensure priority to protecting freshwater ecosystems and the community livelihoods and economies that depend on them.
  • A rapid upscale of investment into non-hydropower renewables and storage, together with policies to facilitate socially and environmentally responsible investment. Investment should kickstart renewable energy projects, roll out centralized and distributed connectivity, build jobs, and deliver low-cost and low-impact electrification to those experiencing energy poverty. Governments can use subsidies and grants to foster upstream value chain investment in local renewable energy manufacturing and assembly.
  • Upgrades to existing hydropower projects to increase efficiency instead of building new dams. This can includeretrofitting turbines, improved pumped storage, and grid-integration with wind, solar, and other energy innovations.  Upgrades should be accompanied by concrete steps to reduce damage to freshwater ecosystems and local livelihoods through robust mitigation compensation, and reparations. Dam removal and river restoration should be undertaken when the adverse social and environmental impacts of existing dams cannot be effectively mitigated.
  • Investment in green infrastructure that protects and restores freshwater ecosystems and biodiversity, alongside laws governing freshwater protection.
    To ensure priority to ecosystem services and job opportunities for local communities, facilitate dialogues between government, private sector, and Indigenous and community water users. Green infrastructure and renewable energy investments must be in line with international human rights standards and environmental safeguards , including the right of Indigenous peoples and other traditional communities to Free, Prior, and Informed Consultation and Consent.
  • New energy development plans that emphasize investment in energy conservation and efficiency, participatory demand-side modelling, and options for smart, distributed energy and mini-grids located close to energy sources and end users, with a focus on community grids and expanded energy access. Governments should halt expensive and long-timeline hydropower projects to review and update energy plans and reassess options for electrification, ensuring transparency and public participationat all stages of planning and implementation. 
  • Safeguards for protected areas in stimulus and recovery plans. This includes adopting policies supporting “no go” zones for environmentally destructive investments in protected areas, endangered and vulnerable species habitat, free-flowing rivers, and the territories of Indigenous people and other traditional communities. Identify and halt destructive uses and development pressures on protected areas. Instead of backtracking on existing legislation, governments should strengthen policies to protect rivers, biodiversity and people’s rights. 

Statement signatories as of December 12, 2020[2]

  1. AAPPMA de l’Albanais
  2. A Sud
  3. ABAA Associação Bujaruense dos Agricultores e Agricultoras
  4. Abibinsroma Foundation
  5. Ассоциация “За экологически чистую Фергану”
  6. Ackroyd & Harvey
  7. Action Humanitaire pour le Développement Durable
  8. Action for Improvement of Food Child and Mother-AFICM
  9. Adhoc Cambodia
  10. Aid/Watch
  11. ALERT: The Alliance of Leading Environmental Researchers & Thinkers
  12. Alinsaetamarn Library & Resource Center
  13. Alliance for Conflict Transformation (ACT)
  14. Allier Sauvage
  15. Amazon Watch
  16. Aniban ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (AMA)
  17. Apt Succor Organization
  18. Arab Watch Regional Coalition
  19. Arctic Consult
  20. Ars’egk Indigenous Peoples’ Organization (Varzino) (РОКМНС “Арсъегк” (Варзино)
  21. Articulação popular São Francisco vivo
  22. Associação Alternativa Terrazul
  23. Association for Eco Solutions EKO ALIJANSA
  24. Association of Indigenous People at the Northern Taimyr Dolgan-Nenets District
  25. Association of Parks in Bulgaria
  26. Association of Patriotic Upbringing “Master of Own Land”
  27. Association Protectrice du Saumon pour le bassin de la Loire et de l’Allier
  28. Asociación Plataforma Jalón Vivo
  29. Asociación Quisca
  30. Aves Argentinas
  31. Ayse Ege Yildirim Heritage Planning
  32. BALKANI Wildlife Society
  33. Balkanka Association (Sofia, Bulgaria)
  34. BAMEE – Bulgarian Association of Municipal Environmental Experts
  35. Bank Information Center
  36. BankTrack
  37. Biodiversity Conservation Center
  38. BIOS
  39. Bureau for Regional Outreach Campaigns – BROC, Vladivostok
  40. Cambodian Volunteers for Society (CVS)
  41. Cambodian Youth Network
  42. Candle Light
  43. Catalan network for a new water culture
  44. Catedra Unesco/Unicap dom Helder Camara de Direitos Humanos
  45. Center for Climate Change, Macedonia
  46. Center for Environment
  47. Center for Environmental Initiatives Ecoaction
  48. Center for Ethnic Studies and Development, Chiang Mai University
  49. Center for Protection and Research of Birds
  50. Center for Support of Indigenous Peoples of the NorthCentre for Human Rights and Civic Education
  51. Centre for Environmental Justice
  52. Centre for Initiative Against Human Trafficking (CIAHT)
  53. Centro Amazónico de Antropología y Aplicación Práctica (CAAAP)
  54. Centro de Documentación en Derechos Humanos “Segundo Montes Mozo S.J.” (CSMM)
  56. CeVI – Centro di Volontariato Internazionale
  57. Chalakudypuzha Samrakshana Samithi
  58. CIMI/MS
  59. Cirneq
  60. Citizen’s Action for Transparency (CAfT)
  61. Colong Foundation for Wilderness
  62. Comitato Terre San Giovanni Scareno
  63. Comitê de Bacias Hidrográficas dos Rios Peruípe, Itanhém e Jucuruçu
  64. Congreso de los Pueblos-Chile
  65. Coordinamento Nazionale Tutela Fiumi – Free Rivers Italia
  66. CORAP
  67. Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe
  68. Coletivo de Assistentes Sociais Resistência e Luta
  69. Colectivo Mura de Porta Velho
  70. Comitato PERALTRESTRADE Dolomiti
  71. Comitê de Energia renovável do Semiárido – CERSA
  72. Community Development & Advocacy Forum Nepal
  73. Community Resource Center
  74. Conselho Pastoral dos Pescadores – ES
  75. Conservación Humana AC
  76. Coordinadora Afectados por Grandes Embalses y Trasvases – COAGRET
  77. Coordinadora Ciudadana No Alto Maipo
  78. Corner House
  79. Crear con Ciencia
  80. Crude Accountability
  81. CSIPN
  82. Dalje nećeš moći
  83. Earthlife Africa Jhb
  84. Earth Thrive
  85. Eco-TIRAS International Association of River Keepers
  86. EcoContact NGO
  87. Ecoistituto del Veneto “Alex Langer”
  88. Eco Society India
  89. Ecological Association “Rzav”
  90. Ecological Center DRONT
  91. Ecologistas en Acción – Adra
  92. EcoLur Informational NGO
  93. Eko Gerila Prespa
  94. Eko Rural Pelister
  95. Energy and Environmental Sciences College Al-Kharkh University of Science
  96. Environics Trust
  97. Environmental Citisens’ Association “Front 21/42”
  98. ERN European Rivers Network
  100. Equitable Cambodia
  101. Etica en los Bosques
  102. EuroNatur
  103. Fair Finance International
  104. FAOR Fórum da Amazônia Oriental
  105. Femmes Solidaires
  106. Fly Fishing Club Idrija
  107. Fonds pour la Conservation des Rivières Sauvages
  108. FORED
  109. Forum Italiano dei Movimenti per l’Acqua
  110. Fórum Mundanças Climáticas E Justiça Socioambiental – FMCJS
  111. Fórum Nacional da Sociedade Civil em Comitês de Bacias Hidrográficas
  112. Foundation for Environment and Agriculture
  113. Foundation of Sami Heritage and Development
  114. Free-Flowing Rivers Lab, Northern Arizona University
  115. Frente Brasil Popular
  116. Frente por uma Nova Política Energética para o Brasil
  117. Friends of Bharathapuzha
  118. Friends of the Earth Japan
  119. Friends of the Siberian Forests
  120. Friends with Environment in Development (FED)
  121. Fundação SOS Mata Atlântica
  122. Fundación Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (FARN)
  123. Fundacion Arcoiris por el Respeto a la Diversidad sexual
  124. Fundacion Delta Ecuador
  125. Fundación Avina
  126. Fundación Cauce: Cultura Ambiental, Causa Ecologista
  127. Fundação SOS Mata Atlântica
  128. Future Young Pioneer Organization
  129. GegenStrömung/ CounterCurrent
  130. German-Russian Exchange St. Petersburg
  131. Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker, Regionalgruppe München
  132. Global Forest Coalition
  133. Global Shapers Hub Skopje- Water4changes project
  134. Grand Riverkeeper Labrador, Inc
  135. Green Alternative (Environmental NGO)
  136. Green Lotus NGO
  137. Green Network – Magway
  138. Green Silk Road Coalition
  139. Héritier du Développement au Congo
  140. Hill Area and Community Development Foundation
  141. IAD
  142. Igapo Project
  143. Indian Institute of Forest Management
  144. Institute for Environmental Policy
  145. Institute for the Study of Natural Resources and Environmental Management, Mae Fah Luang University
  146. Informationsstelle Peru e.V.
  147. Iniciativa para las Inversiones Sustentables China-America Latina
  148. Iniciativa para las Inversiones Sustentables China-America Latina
  149. Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive
  150. Innovation pour le Développement et la Protection de l’Environnement
  151. Instituto BiodiverCidade
  152. Instituto Calliandra de Educação Integral e Ambiental
  153. Instituto Madeira Vivo-IMV
  154. Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense
  156. International Accountability Project
  157. International Indigenous Fund for Development and Solidarity “Batani”
  158. International Rafting Federation
  159. International Rivers
  160. Jalbiradari
  161. Jamaa Resource Initiatives
  162. Journalists for Human Rights
  163. Kampagne Bergwerk Peru – Riquesa se va, pobreza se queda
  164. Keepers of the Water Society
  165. Koalisi Rakyat untuk Hak atas Air (KRuHA) / People’s Coalition for the Right to Water
  166. Kola Sámi Radio
  167. Kostroma Regional Environmental Association “For the sake of Life”
  168. Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center – Friends of the Earth Philippines
  169. Le Réseau des Rivières sauvages
  170. Living River Siam Association
  171. Lokshakti Abhiyan
  172. Lonko Comunidad Indígena Sin Tierra de Galvarino
  173. Mae Sai Environment Group
  174. Maiouri Nature Guyane
  175. MAPAS
  176. Marcha Mundial por Justiça Climática / Marcha Mundial do Clima
  177. Mekong Community Institute Association
  178. Mekong People Network
  179. Mekong Watch
  180. MENSCHENRECHTE 3000 e.V., Working Group Uranium Network
  181. Mesopotamia Ecology Movement
  182. Metta Development Foundation
  183. Milwaukee Riverkeeper
  184. Mlup Promviheathor Center (MPC)
  185. MMC
  186. Mongolian Women’s Fund
  187. Mon Region Land Policy Affairs Committee
  188. Mountain Club “Jabagly-Manas-C”
  189. Mountains and People Association of Bulgarian Mountain Leadesr and Mountain Guides
  190. Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens
  191. Movimento Tapajós Vivo
  192. Movimento Xingu Vivo Para Sempre
  193. Mulheres – PT RO
  194. My Village
  195. Nam Ing River Group
  196. National Association of Professional Environmentalists (NAPE)
  197. National River Saving Movement (NRSM)
  198. Nature Foundation
  199. Nature Iraq
  200. Nepal River Conservation Trust (NRCT)
  201. NGO “AGENS”
  202. NGO “FAaN “
  203. NGO Forum on Cambodia
  204. NGO Green Home
  205. NGO “Terra-1530”
  206. NGO ARD Habitat
  207. NGO Union for Defence of the Aral Sea and Amudarya
  208. NUPÉLIA – Nucleo de Pesquisas em Limnologia, Ictiologia e Aquicultura
  209. Observatório Ibérico Energia
  210. Obsetvatório Nacional de Justiça Socioambiental Luciano Mnedes de Almeida (OLMA)
  211. Office of Fisheries Chiang Rai
  212. Ohrid SOS Citizens’ Initiative
  214. Organic Agriculture Association
  215. Pace on Peaceful Pluralism
  216. Pak Chom, Chiang Khan Group
  217. Parjanya
  218. Pashan Area Sabha
  219. Patrulha Ambiental Do Rio Ivai Pari
  220. Paung Ku
  221. Peace Valley Environment Association
  222. Peace Valley Landowner Association
  223. People and Nature Reconciliation
  224. Perangua Network
  225. Planète Amazone
  226. Plataforma de Toledo en Defensa del Tajo
  227. Pofoma
  228. Projeto Saude e Alegria
  229. Pró Ivaí/Piquiri
  230. Punarbharan Foundation
  231. Rak Chiang Khong Group
  232. RAVEN (Respecting Aboriginal Values and Environmental Needs)
  234. Red Uruguaya de ONGs Ambientalistas
  235. Research-Intellectual Club “Dialogue of Generations
  236. Réseau Camerounais des Organisations des Droits de l’Homme (RECODH)
  237. Réseau CREF
  238. River Collective
  239. River Research Centre
  240. Rivers without Boundaries Coalition-Mongolia
  241. Rivers without Boundaries International Coalition
  242. Riverwatch
  243. Rubyn Territory of Communal Self-Government of Irkutsk City
  244. SaciWATERs
  245. Salviamo il Paesaggio Valdossola
  246. Samuchit enviro tech
  247. SaNaR(Save the Natural Resource)
  248. Save Our Rivers
  249. Save Pune Hills
  250. Save the Tigris Campaign
  251. Scientists4Mekong
  252. iSchool-Myanmar
  253. Secretaria de Educação. SEEDF
  254. Shaqovian Organization for Development and Culture
  255. Social Action for Community and Development (SACD)
  256. Sobrevivencia
  257. Socio-ecological Union International
  258. SOS Loire Vivante
  259. Southen Youth Development Organization
  260. South Durban Community Environmental Alliance
  261. Sunshine Coast Alliance4Democracy
  262. Sustaining the Wild Coast
  263. Taiga Research and Protection Agency
  264. Tampadipa Institute
  265. The Altai Project
  266. Tigris River Protector Association | Humat Dijlah
  267. Thai Mekong People’s Network from Eight Provinces
  268. The Mekong Butterfly
  269. Tinada Youth Organization (TIYO)
  270. Trend Asia
  271. TOKA : The Organization to Conserve the Albanian Alps
  272. TOGETHER Asbl
  273. Toxic Action Network Central Asia
  274. Tsavo Trust
  275. UMR CNRS, University of Tours
  276. Un Ponte Per
  277. Union for Chemical Safety
  278. United Tasmania Group (UTG)
  279. Universidade Estadual de Maringá
  280. Urgewaldurgewald
  281. Vasundhara Swatchata Abhiyan
  282. Vayali Folklore Group
  283. Vietnam National University of Forestry
  284. Vietnam River Network (VRN)
  285. Wainui Consulting Limited
  286. WALHI – West Java (Friends of The Earth Indonesia)
  287. Water Beyond Borders (Initiative)
  288. Waterkeepers Bangladesh
  289. Watershed Poetry Mendocino
  290. Water Justice and Gender
  291. Witness Radio – Uganda
  292. WomanHealth Philippines
  293. Women’s Environment & Development Organization (WEDO
  294. WoMin African Alliance
  295. World Fish Migration Foundation
  296. World Heritage Watch
  297. Youth Group on Protection of Environment
  298. Za Zemiata – Friends of the Earth Bulgaria
  299. Zelenyi mir
  300. 3S Rivers Protection Network
  301. 350 Africa

[1] Statement is supported by detailed report “Rivers of Recovery” available at

[2] Statement in 12 languages is still open for signing at

Please help us further elevate the Rivers for Recovery campaign and share with your networks! You can do so using the social media toolkit here which includes key hashtags, graphics, videos, and links to the report!

For further questions inquire at