News / 5 January 2010

In Memory of Glenn Switkes

On December 21st our dear colleague and friend Glenn Switkes from International Rivers passed away very unexpectedly shortly after he had been diagnosed with lung cancer. Only two months ago he contributed to a political café organised by Both ENDS in the Netherlands about the impact of infrastructural projects in the Amazon. He was strong as ever, full of energy, making a strong case clearly showing his years of experience.


He was fighting for justice as he has been done during the 15 years we had the privilege of working with him. Nothing indicated that it would be the last time we would meet. Our first meeting took place exactly 15 years ago, in December 1994 in Sao Paulo, the same city he died. At that time the Rios Vivos Coalition was established in which both our organisations have been active for almost 10 years.


I had the pleasure to get to know Glenn during trips over still unspoiled rivers in South America, meetings with local communities as well as policy makers and not to forget the many informal moments full of laughter and music. During his last trip we visited a brewery in Amsterdam, famous for its special beers. Besides his fight against dams, this was his favorite subject.


Several people at Both ENDS made plans with Glenn for next steps and it is hard to imagine these will have to take place without him. But it will be much harder for his family, who we wish all the strength. They will surely feel how important Glenn has been and will continue to be for numerous people around the globe.


It will also be extremely hard for many, especially local people from whom Glenn has been a crucial adviser and reference point. As people close to him say: the struggle will continue. We owe that to him and ourselves. And we will remember him as a very strong, determined and kind person and he will continue to be with us.


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