Calendar » ASL Webinar: Free flowing rivers in the Amazon region

ASL Webinar: Free flowing rivers in the Amazon region

February 16, 2021 | 10:30 AM |

Webinar: Tuesday, February 16, 2021
10:30am – noon, Washington D.C.

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Webinar hosted by the Amazon Sustainable Landscapes Program (ASL) – World Bank

Watch the recording



A free-flowing river is largely unaffected by human-made changes to its flow and connectivity. Water, silt, other natural materials and species can move along unobstructed. Healthy rivers support freshwater fish stocks that improve food security for hundreds of millions of people, deliver sediment that keeps deltas above rising seas, mitigate the impact of extreme floods and droughts, prevent loss of infrastructure and fields to erosion, and support a wealth of biodiversity. Disrupting rivers’ connectivity often diminishes or even eliminates these critical ecosystem services.


According to a recent global assessment of the location and extent of the planet’s remaining free-flowing rivers conducted by WWF and partners, just over one-third (37%) of the world’s 246 longest rivers remain free-flowing.


New research in the Amazon shows 16 of the region’s 26 very long rivers currently remain free flowing, while planned dams would further reduce that number to 9. The webinar will present the results of the global and Amazon Basin assessments, opening a discussion of the global, regional, and national benefits of free flowing rivers, the environmental, social, and economic impacts of disrupting rivers’ connectivity (including with dams and reservoirs), and recommendations for multisectoral planning and river protection approaches that align with development goals.



Valerie Hickey – Practice Manager, Environment, Natural Resources and Blue Economy, Latin America and the Caribbean, World Bank


Michele Thieme – Deputy Director of Freshwater, WWF US
Kurt Holle – Director, WWF Peru


Christian Severin – Coordinator, GEF International Waters, The Global Environment Facility
Eileen Burke – Global Lead for Water Resources, World Bank


Valerie Hickey, Practice Manager, Environment, Natural Resources and Blue Economy, Latin America and the Caribbean, World Bank
Valerie worked across the Bank’s regions providing design and implementation support to a variety of operations, including in fragile states, where she led the Bank’s environment portfolio in Haiti following the earthquake in 2010. As chair of the biodiversity and wildlife crime communities of practice. Valerie represents the World Bank in international conventions related to biodiversity. She also leads the Bank’s work on two global biodiversity grant-making operations, namely the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund and the Save Our Species Program. Valerie holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Science and Policy from Duke University and a Master of Arts in negotiations from Notre Dame.
Michele Thieme, Deputy Director of Freshwater, WWF US
Michele supports WWF’s efforts to conserve freshwater ecosystems and manage river basins to support biodiversity and human livelihoods. She works with WWF offices around the world to build the resiliency of freshwater systems with a particular focus on river-related infrastructure, dams, and planning, as well as evaluation of basin health. Michele has 25 years of experience in freshwater and spatial planning with over 30 scientific publications. Through relationships with academia, she brings the latest in science to applied river basin policy, management, and conservation projects. She holds a B.S. in biology from University of Virginia and a Master’s in Fisheries Science from University of Arizona.
Kurt Holle, Director, WWF Peru
Kurt studied forestry in Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina. He is a conservation and ecotourism entrepreneur. Kurt founded Rainforest Expeditions in 1992 pioneering ecotourism and community tourism in Peru. He also worked in the Amazon in Peru and Ecuador and in Botswana helping indigenous tourism and conservation enterprises. With experience in designing, implementing, managing, and marketing operations, Kurt works with local communities, ensuring sustainable business practices and forest conservation. He has worked in certification, handicraft development, designing economic incentives for conservation, environmental funds and finance mechanisms. Since 2018 he is the director of WWF Peru.
Christian Severin, Coordinator, GEF International Waters, The Global Environment Facility
Christian Severin is the Coordinator for the Global Environment Facility’s International Waters focal area, managing and catalyzing transboundary freshwater and marine cooperation across different geographical regions as well as globally. To date the GEF has invested $1.9 billion in grant financing and leveraged $10.6 billion in co-financing. Countries participating in GEF International Waters (IW) projects have successfully negotiated numerous regional cooperation frameworks, treaties, and protocols, ranging from cooperation on shared freshwater resources to agreements on marine resources. He has been working for the GEF since 2005. Before joining the GEF Christian worked on wastewater and drinking water related issues in the private sector and facilitated academic cooperation across the Nordic and Baltic countries.
Eileen Burke, Global Lead for Water Resources, Senior Water Resources Management Specialist, World Bank
As the Global Lead for Water Resources at the World Bank, Eileen coordinates a network of nearly 200 Water Resources professionals in to deliver higher quality technical work to client countries. She is also leading a global study on how the world can meet its water security needs, including a need for increased storage, in a more sustainable way. She has led Bank transboundary waters initiatives in the Mekong and Nile Basins, and has served as the World Bank co- focal point for transboundary waters. In addition, she has worked on national level programs in Africa, South Asia, East Asia, and Europe.


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