Inner Green Deal - the human dimension of sustainability. podcast

Learning from our rivers | with Li An Phoa | S4E4

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We talk to Li An Phoa, founder of the charity Drinkable Rivers about her work towards a world with waterways so clean that we can sip from their banks.


Her mission started in 2005 when she canoed the full length of the Rupert river in Canada, drinking fresh water from it as she went. When she returned there just three years later, she was met with a different picture. The water had been polluted as a result of dams and mining. Fish were dying and local people were falling ill.


Seeing the ecosystem thrown out of balance, Li An realised that being able to drink from a river was an indicator of healthy living. She now raises awareness and mobilise people to take action through river walks, citizen science and community building, like Mayors for Drinkable Rivers, a group that emerged from her 2018 walk along the River Meuse.


That 1000-kilometer source-to-sea walk took her through France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Most recently, she embarked on 500 kilometre walk along the river Thames, starting at its source in the Cotswolds and ending four weeks later at the mouth of the North Sea. She has also co-authored a book ‘Drinkable Rivers: How the River Became My Teacher’

Inner Green Deal host Tamsin Walker sat down with Li An to talk about how we can learn to use rivers as a marker for a healthy society, how we can reconnect with the water that keeps us alive and with each other to keep it clean.

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Drinkable Rivers:


About the Inner Green Deal


The Inner Green Deal is a non-profit organisation based in Cologne and Brussels with a growing community around the world. We address the human dimension of sustainability and support leaders, change makers and facilitators to accelerate the green transformation. We offer a range of short and longer programmes cultivating capacities such as collaboration, systems thinking and compassion. In addition to programmes for organisations, we empower facilitators and offer train-the-trainer programmes, access to curricula and digital tools to create cohesive communities of change. Our podcast is hosted and produced by Tamsin Walker. Executive producer is IGD co-founder Jeroen Janss. For more information, visit us on or write to [email protected]. 

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