84 Businesses Honored as ‘Best for the Environment’
Today, 84 companies worldwide were recognized for creating the most positive environmental impact by the nonprofit B Lab with the release of the third annual "B Corp Best for the Environment" list. The "B Corp Best for the Environment" list honors businesses that earned an environmental impact score in the top 10 percent of all Certified B Corporations on the B Impact Assessment, a rigorous and comprehensive assessment of a company's impact on its workers, community and the environment. Honorees were recognized among micro, small and mid-sized businesses.
Highlighted companies include outdoor retailers Patagonia and GoLite, home and personal care companies Method and Seventh Generation, employee-owned, craft brewery New Belgium Brewery and the 20 year old waste reduction and management company, WasteZero.
The "Best for the Environment" companies come from more than 30 different industries such as financial services, consulting, apparel and personal care. Thirty-six percent operate in the service sector, 33 percent in wholesale/retail and 25 percent in manufacturing. A quarter of honorees are based outside the U.S., with 13 percent of companies operating in emerging markets including Brazil, Colombia and Chile.
“It’s great to see so many diverse companies on this year’s 'Best for the Environment' list,” says B Lab co founder, Jay Coen Gilbert. “With representatives from 30 different industries, it shows that all companies can compete to be the best of the best at creating a positive impact.”
Each honored company is a Certified B Corporation. They use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems and have met rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. Today there are more than 990 certified B Corporations, across 60 industries and 32 countries, unified by one common goal: to redefine success in business.
B Lab released the “Best for the World” list (overall impact) in March and will release separate lists recognizing the companies "Best for the Community" (community impact), and "Best for Workers" (employee impact) throughout 2014.
11 Midsize Businesses Honorees (50+ Employees)
GoLite (Boulder, CO)—GoLite is the premier global manufacturer of high performance, responsible apparel and equipment designed specifically for outdoor athletes.
Method Products, PBC (CA)—Method is the pioneer of premium environmentally-conscious and design-driven home care, fabric care and personal care products.
Namaste Solar (CO)—Namasté Solar is an employee-owned cooperative that designs, installs and maintains solar electric systems for homes, businesses, nonprofits and government entities.
New Belgium Brewing Co, Inc. (CO)—New Belgium Brewing, maker of Fat Tire Amber Ale and a wide variety of award-winning beers, is the third-largest craft brewer in the country.
Patagonia, Inc. (CA)—Patagonia grew out of a small company that made tools for climbers. Alpinism remains at the heart of a worldwide business that still makes clothes for climbing—as well as for skiing, snowboarding, surfing, fly fishing, paddling and trail running.
Positive Energy Solar (NM)—Positive Energy Solar is local, employee owned, and the only solar company in New Mexico that is a certified B-Corp.
Seventh Generation (VT)—Seventh Generation is a leading brand of green household and personal care products. The company remains an independent, privately-held company distributing products to natural food stores, supermarkets, mass merchants and online retailers across the U.S. and Canada.
Solberg Manufacturing, Inc. (IL)—Solberg manufactures standard and custom filtration, separation and silencing products that protect machinery, the surrounding environment and the workplace.
Sungevity (CA)—Sungevity is the nation’s fastest growing residential solar company that designs, installs and finances residential solar electric systems.
WasteZero, Inc. (NC)—WasteZero partners with more than 800 towns and cities around the country to reduce the amount of municipal solid waste (MSW) that is landfilled and burned.
West Paw Design (MT)—West Paw Design is a U.S. manufacturer of eco-friendly and high-quality products for dogs and cats.
25 Small Businesses Honorees (10-49 Employees)
Acorn Sign Graphics (VA)—Acorn Sign Graphics designs and fabricates custom architectural signage and graphics. From award-winning design to sustainable sign and graphic solutions, eco-friendly sign manufacturing to long-lasting installations, Acorn Sign Graphics delivers comprehensive sign services to meet the needs of clients worldwide.
Advanced Home Energy (CA)—Advanced Home Energy partners with homeowners who are interested in going green and offer a wide range of home energy efficiency solutions.
Alchemy Goods (WA)—Alchemy Goods strives to turn useless stuff like blown-out inner tubes, old seatbelts and advertising banners into useful products like bags and wallets.
Brightworks (OR)—Brightworks provides comprehensive sustainability planning and facilitation services, helping their clients increase asset value, reduce operating costs, manage risk and enhance their brand, while helping address pressing global ecological challenges.
Britec Ltda. (Santiago, Chile)—Britec LTDA., has a factory of solar collectors in Chile in the Colina 1 Prison.
Bullfrog Power (Toronto, ON)—Bullfrog Power’s mission is to provide Canadians with easy and practical 100 percent renewable energy solutions for their homes, businesses and transportation that empower them to create a sustainable world for future generations.
ChicoBag Company (CA)—ChicoBag advocates for waste reduction and designs a collection of high-quality, long-lasting reusable bags.
Cultiva Empresa (Santiago, Chile)—Cultiva Empresa has developed several reforestation projects in Santiago, totaling 40.5 hectares reforested.
Degraf Ltda. (Santiago, Chile)—DEGRAF is a family business that began operations in 1982 with the objective to recycle waste from the printing industry.
Emory Knoll Farms (MD)—Emory Knoll Farms is the only nursery in the U.S. that is dedicated solely to the propagation of plants for the green roof industry.
Green Building Services (OR)—Green Building Services provides services and tools to support the design, construction and operation of buildings that are responsible, enduring and healthy.
Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods (HI)—Hawaiian Legacy Hardwoods (HLH) plants rare high value endemic koa trees on Hawaii Island. Some trees are planted for investors for eventual harvest, while others—“Legacy Trees”—are planted to permanently reforest the land, sequester carbon, advance science and inspire environmental awareness.
Highland Craftsmen, Inc. (NC)—Highland Craftsmen Inc. designs, manufactures and sells all-natural Bark House® brand architectural elements to building, design and furniture professionals as well as individuals.
Icebox Knitting, LLC (CA)—Icebox Knitting seeks to change the historically detrimental procedures of the textile industry by supporting sustainable practices with emphasis on local sourcing and production in closer proximity of the end consumer.
IceStone (NY)—IceStone® is the world’s safest, most sustainable durable surface. Made from three core ingredients—100 percent recycled glass, Portland cement and pigment—IceStone® surfaces are used for everything from kitchen counter tops to conference room tables to art installations.
Indigenous Designs Corporation (CA)—Indigenous Designs is a leader in organic and fair trade clothing. Their clothing supports thousands of artisans in the most remote and impoverished regions of the world
Microgrid Energy, LLC (MO)—Microgrid Solar is a solar PV developer and EPC contractor based in St. Louis, MO, offering turnkey solar services for commercial, government and residential clients.
Natural Systems Utilities (NJ)—Natural Systems Utilities, LLC is an innovative water asset management company that designs, builds, owns and operates decentralized and distributed water delivery, treatment and reuse infrastructure.
New Leaf Paper (CA)—New Leaf Paper develops office and printing papers with leading environmental specifications and distributes them throughout North America.
Preserve (MA)—Preserve is the leading sustainable consumer goods company and producer of stylish 100 percent recycled household products.
Solmetric Corporation (CA)—Solmetric Corporation is a test and measurement company that designs and manufactures tools for the solar installation industry.
SunCommon (VT)—SunCommon’s purpose is to dramatically increase solar energy production in Vermont by eliminating the huge upfront costs and replacing them with a monthly payment that is the same or less than what Vermonters are currently paying their utility for electricity.
The Joinery (OR)—With a focus on both design and construction, The Joinery and its artisans endeavor to create furniture that will last for generations.
The Paradigm Project (CO)—The Paradigm Project is a low-profit limited liability company operating in cooperation with The Paradigm Foundation, whose collective mission is to create sustainable economic, social and environmental value within developing world communities.
TotalPET Corp (San Jose, Costa Rica)—TotalPET Corp recycles PET (a type of plastic used to create beverage bottles) to create packaging and prevent the plastic from ending up as waste.
48 Micro-Enterprises Honorees (<10 Employees)
Acción Verde (Bogota, Colombia)—Accion Verde is a Colombian for-profit enterprise that plants trees to promote reforestation in Colombia.
Alima Cosmetics, Inc. (OR)—Alima Pure™ makes mineral makeup using only the purest cosmetic-grade mineral pigments.
Animal Experience International (ON, Canada)—Animal Experience International (AEI) has a mission to help animals around the globe by matching clients with animal-related volunteer opportunities at sanctuaries, wildlife hospitals, animal clinics and conservation projects.
Atayne, LLC (ME)—Atayne makes high-performing outdoor and athletic apparel from 100 percent recycled materials.
Best Energy (Santiago, Chile)—Best Energy is creating economic value through social and environmental responsibility. They provide solar water heating for social housing through gubernamental subsidies.
BluPlanet Recycling Inc. (AB, Canada)—BluPlanet Recycling Inc. is a Calgary-based multi-family residential and commercial recycling collection service provider.
Climatesmart Business, Inc. (BC, Canada)—Climate Smart is a social enterprise that trains businesses and provides them with software tools to track and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
Cool Energy, Inc. (CO)—Cool Energy's SolarHeart Engine captures waste heat that an industrial site, commercial process or power generator is already emitting, and turns it into clean and renewable electricity, recycled thermal energy or mechanical energy.
Cultivating Capital (CA)—Cultivating Capital is a business consulting firm that helps entrepreneurs and small business owners, especially women business owners, go green and market their businesses online.
Ditto Hangers (CA)—Ditto features a growing line of 100 percent sustainable hangers, signage, POP displays, packaging and accessory displays.
Dolphin Blue, Inc. (TX)—Dolphin Blue is an online retailer of ecologically sustainable products for use in commercial and home offices.
Eco-Bags Products (NY)—ECOBAGS® is a small, woman-owned business with a history of creating well-constructed, responsibly- and ethically-produced reusable bags of all kinds using natural, recycled and organic materials.
Ecologic Designs Inc. / Green Guru (CO)—Ecologic Designs works with organizations to manufacture OEM, Private Label and Co-Branded consumer products made from their waste materials or materials they’ve previously reclaimed.
EcoLogic Solutions Inc. (NY)—EcoLogic Solutions Inc.'s purpose is to introduce the safest, effective and cost competitive cleaning products to mass consumers.
Ecoservice (São Paulo, Brazil)—Ecoservice operates with the goal of being a benchmark in sustainable products, systems and services for the building industry.
Ecotrust Forest Management (OR)—Ecotrust Forest Management is a forestland investment management and advisory services company that generates long-term value for both investors and society by facilitating positive environmental outcomes and supporting job creation in rural communities.
Eleek (OR)—Eleek is a sustainable design and manufacturing business specializing in high-style lighting and other decorative building parts.
Energy Opportunities (PA)—Energy Opportunities, Inc. provides technical consulting services on projects relating to energy management, efficiency and conservation, renewable energy systems and the environmental impacts of human enterprises.
Episencial (CA)—Episencial combines advanced skin care technology with Actively Healthy™ ingredients including probiotics, neem oil and botanically-sourced essential fatty acids and antioxidants to enhance skin immunity and defend against daily environmental challenges from water, sun and air.
Feronia Forests LLC (MA)—Feronia's mission is to acquire and to sustainably manage natural hardwood forest properties in the U.S. The company generates revenues from timber harvests, conservation easements, carbon offsets, renewable energy and products of the forest.
Honeyman Sustainability Consulting, LLC (CA)—Honeyman Sustainability Consulting, LLC, helps businesses save money, add value to their brand and cultivate happier and more committed employees—while reducing their impact on the environment.
Incite Directives (Atlanta, GA)—Incite Directives works with businesses and building owners to integrate sustainability into the cultural cloth of their organizations, beginning with facilities and operations.
Just Right Recycling (Abbotsford, BC)—Just Right Recycling is a metal recycling company providing efficient bin services to industry.
Linhardt Design (NY)—Linhardt Design is a New York-based fine and fashion jewelry house that is revolutionizing the industry with its extraordinary designs coupled with socially and environmentally responsible practices.
Luscious Garage (CA)—Luscious Garage specializes in hybrid auto repair and applies the "hybrid" paradigm to everything it does: minimizing environmental impact, promoting advanced technology and working together with customers to meet their needs.
mas ambiente s.a. (Mendoza, Argentina)—Mas ambiente manufactures eco-friendly soaps made with 100 percent recycled cooking oil.
Piedmont Biofuels (NC)—Piedmont Biofuels is a community scale biodiesel operation which collects used cooking oil from area food service establishments and converts it into a clean burning renewable fuel.
Project Repat (MA)—Project Repat upcycles t-shirts into fun and fashionable clothing accessories while creating jobs.
Proyecto Importa (Santiago, Chile)—Proyecto Importa seeks to transform penitentiary labor and social spaces into workshops, which will promote the inclusion of socially vulnerable individuals while developing sustainable products.
Rain Water Solutions, Inc. (NC)—RainWater Solutions manufactures and distributes the 65-gallon Moby rain barrel. They also design and install above- and below-ground rainwater harvesting equipment.
Reciclarg S.A. (Mendoza, Argentina)—Reciclarg seeks to generate awareness of the electronic waste cycle.
REfficient Inc. (Hamilton, ON)—REfficient is an online marketplace where businesses can go shopping in other companies’ surplus inventory.
Resonate LLC (PA)—Resonate LLC is a strategic sustainability consulting firm that helps companies to enhance brand, profitability and company value by integrating social and environmental factors into their business model and performance measurement.
Rivanna Natural Designs, Inc. (VA)—Rivanna Natural Designs creates awards, plaques and gifts made from FSC-certified woods, bamboo, recycled glass and other planet-friendly materials.
Route to Green SPA (Santiago, Chile)—R2G's mission is to make a variety of affordable products and services consistent with the protection of the environment in Chile and Latin America.
Saul Good Gift Co (Vancouver, BC)—Saul Good Gift Co. uses corporate gifts to communicate values around sustainability, local purchasing (to Vancouver, BC), and community engagement to build powerful relationships for its clients.
Seeds Printing (PA)—Seeds is a green printing company comprised of environmentally conscious, creative professionals with years of experience in the fields of printing, design, marketing, writing and editing, and world-class customer service.
SLOWCOLOR (CA)—SLOWCOLOR is an integrated bottom line high-impact clothing enterprise committed to revitalizing the use of age-old traditions to dramatically reduce the social, environmental and health impacts of textile manufacturing.
SMART Watering Systems Inc. (Milton, ON)—SMART Watering Systems is a water efficiency consulting firm and a "hands on" irrigation water management company that works with municipalities, parks departments, architects and property managers to reduce potable water use on landscapes.
Solar States (PA)—Solar States develops solar projects on schools, homes and commercial buildings, as well as connecting Philadelphia students with the green-collar economy through training and jobs.
Spotlight Solar, LLC (NC)—Spotlight Solar makes solar systems that look like sculpture. Their products are intended to complement other environmental investments, like rooftop solar systems, which are usually hidden from the public on flat office building roofs.
Staach (NY)—Staach strives to create the finest modern handcrafted furniture using only sustainable methods and materials.
TerraLocke, Inc. (IL)—TerraLocke is a sustainability consulting firm focusing on local communities.
TerraPass (CA)—TerraPass’ projects help businesses and individuals reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change by generating renewable energy and destroying greenhouse gases (GHGs).
TheGreenOffice.com (CA)—TheGreenOffice.com is a one-stop online retailer featuring more than 34,000 green and conventional office products and a comprehensive range of sustainability services designed to make office greening easy and cost effective.
Waste To Green, LLC (NC)—Waste To Green provides electronic waste/e-waste recycling services to businesses, individuals and government looking to minimize their carbon footprint through ethical, responsible and secure recycling of their old electronics and IT assets.
Yellow Leaf Hammocks (CA)—Yellow Leaf Hammocks are 100 percent hand-woven, customizable hammocks that offer customers supreme comfort, strength and durability, along with a commitment to cultivating a sustainable economic opportunity for marginalized ethnic groups like the endangered Mlabri Tribe.
Zero to Go (NY)—Zero to Go provides a removal service in which unwanted items are transferred directly to people in need. Their sustainable removal services address the needs of the community by ensuring useable materials stay local and out of the waste stream.
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By Deborah Moore, Michael Simon and Darryl Knudsen
There's some good news amidst the grim global pandemic: At long last, the world's largest dam removal is finally happening.
A young activist for a free-flowing Salween River. A team of campaigners and lawyers from EarthRights International joined Indigenous Karen communities on the Salween in 2018 to celebrate the International Day of Actions for Rivers on March 14. This year, EarthRights joined communities living in the Eu-Wae-Tta internally displaced persons camp for a celebration in solidarity with those impacted by dam projects on the Salween River. EarthRights International<p>The dam removal project is a sign of the decline of the hydropower industry, whose fortunes have fallen as the <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-46098118" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">troubling</a> cost-benefit ratio of dams has become clear over the years. The rise of more cost-effective and sustainable energy sources (including wind and solar) has hastened this shift. This is exactly the type of progress envisioned by the <a href="https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/read/17023836/dams-and-development-a-new-framework-for-decision" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">World Commission on Dams</a> (WCD), a global multi-stakeholder body that was established by the World Bank and International Union for Conservation of Nature in 1998 to investigate the effectiveness and performance of large dams around the world. The WCD released a damning landmark <a href="https://www.un.org/press/en/2000/20001117.dam.pressconferencepm.doc.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">report</a> in November 2000 on the enormous financial, environmental and human costs and the dismal performance of large dams. The commission spent <a href="https://www.un.org/press/en/2000/20001117.dam.pressconferencepm.doc.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">two years</a> analyzing the outcome of the trillions of dollars invested in dams, reviewing dozens of case studies and testimonies from over a thousand communities and individuals, before producing the report.</p><p>But despite this progress, we cannot take hydropower's decline as inevitable. As governments around the world plan for a post-pandemic recovery, hydropower companies sense an opportunity. The industry is eager to recast itself as climate-friendly (<a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/how-green-is-hydropower-1919539525.html" target="_self">it's not</a>) and <a href="https://www.hydropower.org/covid-19" target="_blank">secure</a> precious stimulus funds to revive its dying industry — at the expense of people, the environment and a truly just, green recovery.</p>
Hydropower’s Troubling Record<p>The world's largest hydropower dam removal project on the Klamath River is a significant win for tribal communities. But while the Yurok and Karuk tribes <a href="https://www.karuk.us/images/docs/press/bring_salmon_home.php" target="_blank">suffered</a> terribly from the decline of the Klamath's fisheries, they were by no means alone in that experience. The environmental catastrophe that occurred along the Klamath River has been replicated all over the world since the global boom in hydropower construction <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/article/hydropower" target="_blank">began</a> early in the 20th century.</p><p>The rush to dam rivers has had huge consequences. After decades of rampant construction, only <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/05/worlds-free-flowing-rivers-mapped-hydropower/" target="_blank">37 percent of the world's rivers remain free-flowing</a>, according to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1111-9" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">one study</a>. River fragmentation has <a href="https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/article/70/4/330/5732594" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">decimated freshwater habitats and fish stocks</a>, threatening food security for millions of the world's most vulnerable people, and hastening the <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffopperman/2020/10/13/freshwater-wildlife-continues-to-decline-but-new-energy-trendlines-suggest-we-can-bend-that-curve/?sh=f9d175a61ee4" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">decline of other myriad freshwater species</a>, including mammals, birds and reptiles.</p><p>The communities that experienced the most harm from dams — whether in Asia, Latin America or Africa — often lacked political power and access. But that didn't stop grassroots movements from organizing and growing to fight for their rights and livelihoods. The people affected by dams began raising their voices, sharing their experiences and forging alliances across borders. By the 1990s, the public <a href="https://tinyurl.com/y55lnlst" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">outcry</a> against large dams had grown so loud that it finally led to the establishment of the WCD.</p><p>What the WCD found was stunning. While large dam projects had brought some economic benefits, they had also <a href="https://www.irn.org/wcd/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">forcibly displaced an estimated 40 to 80 million people in the 20th century alone</a>. To put that number into perspective, it is more than the current population of present-day <a href="https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.POP.TOTL?locations=FR" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">France</a> or the <a href="https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.POP.TOTL?locations=GB" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Kingdom</a>. These people lost their lands and homes to dams, and often with no compensation.</p><p>Subsequent research has compounded that finding. A paper published in <a href="https://tinyurl.com/c7uznz" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Water Alternatives</a> revealed that globally, more than <a href="https://tinyurl.com/yxw8x7ab" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">470 million people living downstream from large dams</a> have faced significant impacts to their lives and livelihoods — much of it due to disruptions in water supply, which in turn harm the complex web of life that depends on healthy, free-flowing rivers. The WCD's findings, released in 2000, <a href="https://www.irn.org/wcd/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">identified</a> the importance of restoring rivers, compensating communities for their losses, and finding better energy alternatives to save rivers and ecosystems.</p>
Facing a New Crisis<p>Twenty years after the WCD uncovered a crisis along the world's rivers and recommended a new development path — one that advances community-driven development and protects freshwater resources — we find ourselves in the midst of another crisis. The global pandemic has hit us hard, with surging loss of life, unemployment and instability.</p><p>But as governments work to rebuild economies and create job opportunities in the coming years, we have a choice: Double down on the failed, outdated technologies that have harmed so many, or change course and use this transformative moment to rebuild our natural systems and uplift communities.</p><p>There are many reasons to fight for a green recovery. The climate is changing even <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-018-07586-5" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">faster</a> than expected, and some dams — especially those with reservoirs in hot climates — <a href="https://tinyurl.com/w6w29t8" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">have been found to emit more greenhouse gases than a fossil fuel power plant</a>. Other estimates have put global reservoirs' human-made greenhouse gas emissions each year on par with <a href="https://www.climatecentral.org/news/greenhouse-gases-reservoirs-fuel-climate-change-20745" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Canada's</a> total emissions.</p><p>Meanwhile, we now understand that healthy rivers and freshwater ecosystems play a <a href="https://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/resources/b55b1fe4-7d09-47af-96c4-6cbb5f106d4f/files/wetlands-role-carbon-cycle.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">critical role in regulating and storing carbon</a>. And at a time when <a href="https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/blog/2019/05/nature-decline-unprecedented-report/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">biodiversity loss is soaring</a>, anything we can do to <a href="https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/article/70/4/330/5732594" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">restore habitat is key</a>. But with <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/271996520_A_Global_Boom_in_Hydropower_dam_Construction" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">more than 3,700 major dams proposed or under construction</a> in the world (primarily in the Global South, with over <a href="https://news.mongabay.com/2020/08/more-than-500-dams-planned-inside-protected-areas-study/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">500 of these in protected areas</a>), according to a 2014 report — and the hydropower industry <a href="https://www.hydropower.org/covid-19" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">jockeying</a> for scarce stimulus dollars — we must act urgently.</p>
Signs of Hope<img lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTcxMzUyMS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxOTcyNTc3OX0.EbqBVPs2kjhrY5AqnZXOb_GX-s6pw4qyJmmeISzKA6U/img.png?width=980" id="a81d0" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="87bc79d69f72e9334a78da8e0355e6ae" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1620" data-height="1068" />
Fish catch at the Siphandone on the Mekong River, prior to the completion of the Don Sahong Dam. Pai Deetes / International Rivers<p>So what would a strong, resilient and equitable recovery look like in the 21st century? Let's consider one example in Southeast Asia.</p><p>Running through six countries, the Mekong River is the world's 12th-longest river, which is home to one of the world's most biodiverse regions, and includes the world's <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/places/greater-mekong#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">largest</a> inland fishery. Around <a href="https://tinyurl.com/y6jrarjo" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">80 percent of the nearly 65 million people</a> who live in the Lower Mekong River Basin depend on the river for their livelihoods, according to the Mekong River Commission. In 1994, Thailand built the Pak Mun Dam on a Mekong tributary. <a href="https://tinyurl.com/y5ekfp4h" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Six years later</a>, the <a href="https://tinyurl.com/yxcvs6up" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">WCD studied the dam's performance</a> and submitted its conclusions and recommendations as part of its final report in 2000. According to the WCD report, the Pak Mun Dam did not deliver the peaking energy service it was designed for, and it <a href="https://tinyurl.com/y38p3jaw" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">physically blocked a critical migration route</a> for a range of fish species that migrated annually to breeding grounds upstream in the Mun River Basin. Cut off from their customary habitat, fish stocks plummeted, and so did the livelihoods of the local people.</p><p>Neighboring Laos, instead of learning from this debacle, followed in Thailand's footsteps, <a href="https://tinyurl.com/y4eaxcq2" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">constructing two dams on the river's mainstem</a>, Xayaburi Dam, commissioned in 2019, and Don Sahong Dam, commissioned in 2020. But then a sign of hope appeared. In early 2020, just as the pandemic began to spread across the world, the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/20/cambodia-scraps-plans-for-mekong-hydropower-dams" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cambodian government reconsidered its plans to build more dams on the Mekong</a>. The science was indisputable: A government-commissioned report showed that further dams would <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/may/16/leaked-report-warns-cambodias-biggest-dam-could-literally-kill-mekong-river" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reduce the river's wild fisheries, threaten critically endangered Irrawaddy dolphins</a> and <a href="https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/2013WR014651" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">block nutrient-rich sediment from the delta's fertile agricultural lands</a>.</p><p><a href="https://data.opendevelopmentmekong.net/dataset/4f1bb5fd-a564-4d37-878b-c288af460143/resource/5f6fe360-7a68-480d-9ba4-12d7b8b805c9/download/volume-3_solar-alternative-to-sambor-dam.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Studies</a> show that Cambodia didn't need to seek billions of dollars in loans to build more hydropower; instead, it could pursue more cost-effective solar and wind projects that would deliver needed electricity at a fraction of the cost — and <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/press-releases/wwf-statement-on-cambodian-government-s-decision-to-suspend-hydropower-dam-development-on-the-mekong-river" target="_blank">without the ecological disasters to fisheries and the verdant Mekong delta</a>. And, in a stunning reversal, Cambodia listened to the science — and to the people — and <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/20/cambodia-scraps-plans-for-mekong-hydropower-dams" target="_blank">announced</a> a 10-year moratorium on mainstream dams. Cambodia is now <a href="https://www.voanews.com/east-asia-pacific/cambodia-halts-hydropower-construction-mekong-river-until-2030" target="_blank">reconsidering</a> its energy mix, recognizing that mainstream hydropower dams are too costly and undermine the economic and cultural values of its flagship river.</p>
Toward a Green Recovery<img lazy-loadable="true" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTcxMzUwOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTMwMjk0M30.0LZCOEVzgtgjm2_7CwcbFfuZlrtUr80DiRYxqKGaKIg/img.jpg?width=980" id="87fe9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e6b9bfeb013516f6ad5033bb9e03c5ec" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="2100" data-height="3086" />
Klamath River Rapids. Tupper Ansel Blake / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service<p>Increasingly, governments, civil servants and the public at large are rethinking how we produce energy and are seeking to preserve and restore precious freshwater resources. Dam removals are increasing exponentially across <a href="https://www.americanrivers.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/DamsRemoved_1999-2019.pdf" target="_blank">North America</a> and <a href="https://damremoval.eu/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/DRE-policy-Report-2018-digitaal-010319.pdf" target="_blank">Europe</a>, and movements advancing <a href="https://www.rightsofrivers.org/" target="_blank">permanent river protection are growing across Latin America, Asia and Africa</a>.</p><p>We must use the COVID-19 crisis to accelerate the trend. Rather than relying on old destructive technologies and industry claims of newfound "<a href="https://www.hydrosustainability.org/news/2020/11/12/consultation-on-a-groundbreaking-global-sustainability-standard-for-hydropower" target="_blank">sustainable hydropower</a>," the world requires a new paradigm for an economic recovery that is rooted both in climate and economic justice as well as river stewardship. Since December 2020, hundreds of groups and individuals from more than 80 countries have joined the <a href="https://www.rivers4recovery.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Rivers4Recovery</a> call for a better way forward for rivers and natural places. This paradigm will protect our rivers as critical lifelines — supporting fisheries, biodiversity, water supply, food production, Indigenous peoples and diverse populations around the world — rather than damming and polluting them.</p><p>The promise of the Klamath dam removals is one of restoration — a move that finally recognizes the immense value of free-flowing rivers and the key role they play in <a href="https://f.hubspotusercontent20.net/hubfs/4783129/LPR/PDFs/Living_Planet_Report_Freshwater_Deepdive.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">nourishing both the world's biodiversity and hundreds of millions of people</a>. Healthy rivers — connected to watershed forests, floodplains, wetlands and deltas — are key partners in building resilience in the face of an accelerating climate crisis. But if we allow the hydropower industry to succeed in its <a href="https://www.world-energy.org/article/12361.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cynical grab for stimulus funds</a>, we'll only perpetuate the 20th century's legacy of suffering and environmental degradation.</p><p>We must put our money where our values are. Twenty years ago, the WCD pointed the way forward to a model of development that takes humans, wildlife and the environment into account, and in 2020, we saw that vision flower along the Klamath River. It's time to bring that promise of healing and restoration to more of the world's rivers.</p><p><em>Deborah Moore is a former commissioner of the <a href="https://www.water-alternatives.org/index.php/alldoc/articles/vol3/v3issue2/79-a3-2-2/file" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" style="">World Commission on Dams</a>. Michael Simon was a member of the <a href="https://www.hydrosustainability.org/assessment-protocol" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" style="">Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Forum</a>. Darryl Knudsen is the executive director of <a href="https://www.internationalrivers.org" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" style="">International Rivers</a>.</em></p><p><em>This article first appeared on <a href="https://truthout.org/articles/damming-rivers-is-terrible-for-human-rights-ecosystems-and-food-security/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Truthout</a> and was produced in partnership with <a href="https://independentmediainstitute.org/earth-food-life/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Earth | Food | Life</a>, a project of the Independent Media Institute.</em></p>
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