About rivers without borders

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By 1999, conservation groups from the US and Canada had been collaborating for over five years on the campaign to protect the Taku Watershed, and the idea of forming a more formal coalition, that would work to protect all the vast wilderness areas that straddle the border between Southeast Alaska on the US side and British Columbia and the Yukon territories in Canada, had been circulating among groups in the region.

The idea of a transboundary conservation alliance was inspired by the groundbreaking 1990’s campaign to protect the Tatshenshini Watershed. Led by Peter Enticknap on the US side and Ric Careless in Canada, the Tatshenshini campaign ultimately resulted in the formation of a world-class park. This success taught a key lesson about the power of international collaboration on conservation campaigns.

In December of 1999, conservationists from Canada and the United States, including key strategists from the Tatshenshini campaign, gathered in Juneau to discuss the ongoing and future conservation campaigns in region.

The Transboundary Watershed Alliance (TWA) — now Rivers Without Borders — was conceived as an organization that would act as a resource tool for local member groups and assist them with their campaigns in the future whether these campaigns were reacting to industrial development threats in the region, or were proactive campaigns targeting key areas that required protection. The principle adopted in Juneau was to create an infrastructure within the TWA that would provide member groups access to experts in international law affecting transboundary regions, conservation-based strategic planning, campaign strategies focusing on the financial viability of proposed projects in the region, and profile building for the transboundary region within the foundation world.

The meeting in Juneau resulted in the creation of the Transboundary Watershed Alliance and the beginning of an attempt to strengthen the conservation movement in this critical wilderness area.