INTERNATIONAL NEWS 

Pressreleases / Communiqués / Pressemitteilungen 
(all in original language, en langue originale, in Originalsprache):

    Contents:

    "Newer" News

  • 06.10.00 : A Milestone in the History of Dams and Development : Commission finalises Global Report
  • 05.10.00 : IUCN launches an ambitious freshwater programme consisting of 24 projects worldwide at the 2nd World Conservation Congress.
  • 05.10.00 : Huge dam proposed for Nigeria
  • 05.10.00 : Army corps postpones release of Mississippi river study
  • 03.10.00 : China : Unrest Grows in 3 Gorges Resettlement Areas (Press advisory)
  • 30.09.00 : Malawi switches on to controversial hydro-power project
  • 26.09.00 : Ilisu dam: Skanska drops out
  • 25.09.00: Rivers in England and Wales Cleanest for 200 Years
  • 21.09.00 : Pak Mun Report Biased, says EGAT
  • 20.09.00 : WCD Report Says Pak Mun Dam A Failure
  • 19.09.00 : Rivers management policy of Poland is threatening its entry into European Union.
  • 18.09.00 : The 4th International Rhine Conference
  • older news

Text :

06.10.00 : A Milestone in the History of Dams and Development : Commission finalises Global Report, to be released by Nelson Mandela in London

After an intense and at times dramatic process of reviewing the world's experience with large dams, the WCD announced at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Amman, Jordan, that all 12 members of the Commission, representing public, private and civil society perspectives have signed a unanimous report. The report due to be released on November 16th will propose a new framework for decision making in water and energy resources management.

The announcement concludes two years of worldwide research and consultation, making the WCD the most comprehensive global and independent assessment of dams ever undertaken. More than 45,000 large dams have been built to date which include some of the largest infrastructure investments ever undertaken in a country. Through case studies, peer reviews, impartial outreach, and rigorous independent analysis the Commission has assessed their technical, financial, environmental and social performance. Its work programme involved thousands of people and hundreds of dams across the world, to learn the lessons of the past and develop guidelines for future decision making.

In announcing the completion of its work the WCD has succeeded in fulfilling a difficult mandate with a unanimous report on time, and under budget.

The final moment of the WCD comes when it launches the published Final Report with Nelson Mandela as patron and guest of honour in London.

Complete pressrelease at : http://www.dams.org/press/pressrelease_63.htm

05.10.00 : IUCN launches an ambitious freshwater programme consisting of 24 projects worldwide at the 2nd World Conservation Congress.

The Initiative follows the growing international concerns on freshwater resources - as expressed at the 2nd World Water Forum last March. Forum participants and ministers from 132 countries called for actions to avert the world water crisis. Communities around the world already face serious shortages of fresh water, and the number is expected to rise to thirty percent of the world's population by 2025.

It also comes at a time when IUCN's 2000 Red List of Threatened Species signals an extremely serious deterioration in river-dwelling species. For instance, 30 % of freshwater fish species are currently threatened and estimates also indicate that over 800 other freshwater species are at risk of extinction. Further research is likely to reveal an even deeper worldwide crisis in freshwater biodiversity.

Says Dr. Maritta von Bieberstein Koch-Weser, Director General of IUCN: 'This Initiative fills the missing link in the water discussions, which usually focused on the distribution of water, not on where that water comes from. Healthy ecosystems renew our water and provide the clean water to support all life on earth, human as well as species'.

The 'Water and Nature Initiative' will demonstrate how catchments and our water resources can be managed in a sustainable way through an integrated approach. Projects will focus on protecting, restoring and managing ecosystems that provide clean water and numerous other valuable services to communities.

For further information, please contact Elroy Bos, Communication Assistant, Wetlands and Water Resources Programme, Mobile (++41) 76 339 53 36

More information at http://www.iucn.org

05.10.00 : Huge dam proposed for Nigeria

Reference: 11181 In Tender Mambilla Hydroelectric Power Project US$ 4,000.000 m. ( Euro 3,970.223 m. )

Country : Nigeria

Location : Mambilla Plateau, Taraba State

Sector : Power(hydro-electric power plant)

Borrower Type : Private Corporate

Concession Awarder Government of Nigeria

Remarks

The project entails the construction and operation of a $4bn, 3,600MW hydro-electric power plant on the Mambilla Plateau in Taraba State, Nigeria. Talks were held between the Nigerian president, officials from the power and steel ministry and Nigerian Electric Power Authority (NEPA) and an unidentified US firm in September 2000 to sign agreements to develop the project. The move is part of the government's emergency power programme aimed at increasing the country's electricity generation capacity. Several agreements have already been signed with independent power producers since June 2000 and in September 2000 the government invited consultants to bid for the role of adviser for the privatisation of NEPA.

 

05.10.00 : Army corps postpones release of Mississippi river study

(ENS) - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will delay for one year the completion of a controversial study of new construction projects on the Mississippi River. The decision comes after an independent review uncovered regulatory violations, flawed assumptions and other problems with the seven year, multimillion dollar study. For full text and graphics visit: For full text and graphics visit:

http://ens-news.com/ens/oct2000/2000L-10-05-06.html

03.10.00 : China : Unrest Grows in 3 Gorges Resettlement Areas (Press advisory)

As violence grows in the Three Gorges resettlement areas, international NGOs call for immediate action by government and investors to address affected peoples' grievances

Reports from the areas to be flooded by the mammoth Three Gorges Dam tell of an alarming rise in violent incidents sparked by resentment against resettlement. Officials summoned troops to quell one protest.

On Friday, Sept 29, the South China Morning Post reported that long-standing complaints that resettlement plans are ill-conceived, funds inadequate and that monies allocated for this purpose have been embezzled by corrupt officials continue to be ignored, while the date for filling the reservoir grows ever nearer. In many cases, years of peaceful petitioning has brought no relief, and frustrated residents are increasingly resorting to public protests, sometimes resulting in clashes with police or local officials. The homes of between 1.2 to 1.9 million people are to be flooded.

Reports of growing tension and violence contradict official statements that the first stage of resettlement is proceeding smoothly. They also demonstrate that the Chinese government's resettlement regulations and policies, praised by the World Bank as a model for the developing world, are often nothing but empty promises for displaced people. In addition, they reveal the serious inadequacy of complaints mechanisms in China, where the constitutional right to petition the authorities for the redress of grievances generally means little in practice.

A number of recent examples of disturbances illustrate the seriousness of the problems in the Three Gorges area. In mid-September, about 300 peasants from Gaoyang Township in Yunyang County attacked officials in charge of the county Resettlement Bureau, injuring at least one. In another protest in September, farmers hurled objects that injured some officials, including the deputy party chief, who was hit with a brick. Officials summoned troops to quell the violence. Earlier this year in Gaoyang, more than 1,000 peasants staged a protest and demanded a meeting with county >leaders to demand more equitable compensation and access to official policy documents detailing the terms and conditions of resettlement.

A group of 300 farmers resettled in Zhanjiang in Jiangsu Province is returning to the Three Gorges area because each household had received the pitiful sum of only 9,000 yuan ($1,200 dollars) to build new houses. Last week, another group of 300 farmers sent to Taofu state farm in Hubei Province returned to Gaoyang and assaulted local resettlement bureau officials, accusing them of embezzling money earmarked for the construction of their new homes.

Farmers have signed dozens of petitions to complain that their representatives had been detained and threatened by local officials and even charging that petitioner representatives had been knifed by local gangsters on the orders of a local official.

These are just a few among a catalogue of incidents resulting from severely inadequate resettlement planning, endemic corruption and mismanagement, problems the International Rivers Network and Human Rights in China have been warning for some years create an explosive situation in the Three Gorges area as large numbers of people began to be moved under the resettlement program.

For over eight years, the International Rivers Network has been lobbying financial institutions to ensure they will not support the project. "We call on the international community to cease involvement in Three Gorges Dam until abuses of civil rights are addressed. By financing the project, U.S. banks are aiding in the creation of the most development refugees for a single project ever. Until Morgan Stanley Dean Witter implements necessary environmental and social policies governing core business operations, International Rivers Network is spearheading a consumer boycott of the firm's Discover Card and I-Choice brokerage services. Financial institutions don't deserve our business if they don't take responsibility for their >environmental and social impacts" said Doris Shen, IRN program officer.

Since 1995, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter's joint venture, China International Capital Corporation based in Hong Kong, has served as the Three Gorges Project Development Corporation's advisor on raising overseas capital. In May 1997 and 1999, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter >helped underwrite $830 million in bonds for the China Development Bank (CDB). Three Gorges Dam is listed as CDB's top loan commitment. (see www.floodwallstreet.org for more details)

Human Rights in China is disturbed at the evident failure of the authorities at all levels to address the grievances of people forced to move by the Three Gorges Dam. "As in so many cases, promises made to people displaced for hydropower projects are proving to be not worth the paper they are written onÓ said Sophia Woodman, HRIC research director. "People whose rights are ignored have no effective means of redress, and their efforts to organize to protect their interests are met only with repression. This kind of approach is a recipe for instability and unrest. In the Three Gorges, it could mean out-and-out violence as the resettlement program advances.

We call on the Chinese government to act immediately to ensure that the rights of people displaced by the dam are fully respected, and to undertake serious, good faith investigation of all complaints. We recommend that foreign investors suspend their involvement in the Three Gorges Dam project until these problems have been satisfactorily addressed,Ó Woodman added.

Companies that are currently involved in the project include: GEC Alsthom of France, ABB of Switzerland and Sweden, Agra Monenco of Canada, GE Canada, and Voith Hydro and Siemens of Germany

Financing firms involved in financing include: Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, China International Capital Corporation, Merrill Lynch, Salomon Smith Barney of Citigroup, Goldman, Sachs & Co., Credit Suisse First Boston. For a complete list of foreign involvement in Three Gorges: http://www.probeinternational.org/probeint/ThreeGorges/who.html

South China Morning Post reports:

"Anger at dam corruption Growing" http://www.scmp.com/News/ToBody.asp?Sec=China&AID=20000929033340099 > "Last Chance for the Damned" http://www.scmp.com/News/ToBody.asp?Sec=Comment&AID=20000928224300704

30.09.00 : Malawi switches on to controversial hydro-power project

BLANTYRE, Sept 30 (AFP) -

Malawi on Saturday officially switched on the new but controversial 64 megawatts hydro-power project, bringing the country's total power output to 234 megawatts.

The much-delayed 130 million dollar Kapichira hydro-project was declared open by President Bakili Muluzi.

"The launching of the project was beset by a number of problems," Lameck Ntchembe, project officer for Electricity supply commission of Malawi >(ESCOM), said.

Work had been halted in 1992 after donors withdrew all aid to Malawi to put pressure on the regime of former dictator Kamuzu Banda into implementing human rights and democratic reforms.

The project was also delayed because the African Development Bank pulled out of co-financing civil works, Ntchembe said.

The International Development Association (IDA), an affliate of the World Bank, the European Investment Bank, the Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC) and German and Netherlands technical agencies co-financed the project.

The Kapichira project is the fifth on the Shire river, which flows from the vast Lake Malawi--the third largest in Africa.

Malawi, whose power supplies have in the past been hit by drought, is negotiating to buy 50 megawatts from Mozambique's Cahora Bassa >hydro-electric plant.

The project will cost 40 million dollars, which is being sought from donors.

The power will be tapped from Mozambique's central Tete province and transmitted 210 kilometres (125 miles) to Blantyre, Malawi's commercial capital.

26.09.00 : Ilisu dam: Skanska drops out

According to a report in the "Financial Times" of 26 September, Skanska, the Swedish construction company, has decided to pull out of the Ilisu consortium. According to the FT, Skanska said the decision was taken due to unspecified negotiating problems which were not related to the protests by environmental and human rights groups. Yet since summer 1999, there had been signs that Skanska was unhappy about the violation of World Bank guidelines by the Ilisu project. As "Cumhuriyet" reported on 21 September, the Turkish secretary of state recently ruled out any interference from foreign governments regarding Ilisu, thus further diminishing the prospects of bringing the dam project in line with international standards.

According to the FT, Skanska held a 24 per cent stake in the Ilisu consortium, which is headed by Sulzer Hydro. According to government sources, the Swedish export credit agency EKN was supposed to contribute 7 per cent of the costs of Ilisu, or 12.5 per cent of all funding provided by export credit agencies.

According to the FT article, the British construction company Balfour Beatty maintained that Ilisu was not dead. Yet any company which decides to join Ilisu consortium a this point, in full knowledge of the social, environmental and political problems of the project, will face a lot of NGO opposition and public criticism. So Skanska's decision to drop out of Ilisu might well be a further nail in the coffin of the project.

Peter Bosshard, Berne Declaration

P.O. Box 1327, 8031 Zurich, Switzerland

ph +41 1 277 70 07, fax +41 1 277 70 01, finance@evb.ch, www.evb.ch

For comments, contact also Tony Juniper at Friends of the Earth/UK, tonyj@foe.co.uk

25.09.00: Rivers in England and Wales Cleanest for 200 Years

LONDON, UK, September 25, 2000 (ENS)

British rivers are cleaner today than at any time since the industrial revolution began in the eighteenth century, the Anglo-Welsh Environment Agency reports.

Results of the latest annual river water quality survey, plus findings reported earlier for Scotland and Northern Ireland, show that 92 percent of UK rivers can now support fish.

The strongest areas of improvement since 1990 have been in urban areas in northern England and the English midlands where around half of rivers and canals have improved by one grade or more.

The net improvement, taking into account the fact that some rivers have deteriorated over the same period, is equivalent to upgrading 40 percent of total river and canal length in the Midlands and North.

The positive trend is put down to government ordered investment by water companies in better sewage treatment plus stricter regulation and enforcement. Announcing the new water quality results on Thursday, Environment Minister Michael Meacher said, "The billions being invested in cleaning up our rivers are really bearing fruit. These are the best ever water quality results and reflect the Government's firm commitment to delivering a cleaner, better quality environment for everyone to enjoy.

In Wales, nearly 99 per cent of rivers were classified as good' or 'fair in 1999. Assembly Environment Secretary Sue Essex said, "Our rivers are an asset that we must protect and improve for future generations. As well as enhancing the Welsh landscape, they are the source of drinking water supplies and support a rich variety of wildlife.

" The survey assesses only the chemical quality of river water. Results of a more detailed five year biological survey will be released next year. Scotland's environment minister Sarah Boyack Friday announced an increase of UK£190m (euros 310m) in environmental spending for the period 2002-2004. The funding increase is set to add one quarter to total expenditure (excluding water) by 2004 compared with 2000-2001.

The largest slice of the extra money will be spent on improving water and wastewater treatment. Extra funds will also go to the Scottish environmental protection agency to help improve compliance with European Union environmental directives.

21.09.00 : Pak Mun Report Biased, says EGAT

Anchalee Kongrut Bangkok Post September 21, 2000

The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand has rejected outright an international report which concludes the Pak Moon dam is not economically justifiable.

The report was prepared by the World Commission on Dams, a group established by the World Bank and the World Conservation Union.

"This report is unacceptable and simply biased," Egat assistant governor Subhin Panyamag said yesterday.

"We insist that we have fulfilled all legal requirements. We did the right thing, and it has benefitted society."

Mr Subhin accused the researchers of being biased against the national power authority. The commission used "different parameters" in researching and judging the merits of Pak Moon dam.

The report, released this week, said the dam, at the confluence of the Moon and Mekong rivers in Ubon Ratchathani, was a flop in all respects.

It failed to live up to its promises regarding power generation, irrigation and fisheries development. It had destroyed the Moon river's ecosystem and affected villagers' livelihoods. M.L. Chanaphun Kridakorn, Egat deputy governor who represented the authority in hearings arranged by commission, said the report failed to take information supplied by Egat into account. The information was instead included in the report's appendix, he said.

M.L. Chanaphun said he had not seen the final report, but if its contents were as reported the power authority would seek ways to express its objection. James Workman, the commission's spokesman, said the report had been peer-reviewed. Egat, among others, had been invited to comment.

"We incorporated those comments which we felt were matters of fact and accuracy that could be independently and objectively verified, rather than tone, language, opinion or emphasis which are more subjective to where you stand. "It is the nature of an independent report that not all are happy with the outcome, from either side. But we stand firmly with confidence behind this final report."

Chayan Vaddhanaphuti, a political scientist at Chiang Mai University and a member of the commission's research team, said Egat should face up to reality.

He said Egat executives were themselves biased. Study team members came from respectable backgrounds.

20.09.00 : WCD Report Says Pak Mun Dam A Failure

Thailand-PAK MOON DAM: A FAILURE IN EVERY RESPECT, SAYS REPORT; >>COSTLY PROJECT LEFT NOTHING BUT DAMAGE

Bangkok Post - Thailand, Sep 20, 2000

The World Commission on Dams has declared Pak Moon dam a flop in all respects.

In a report released yesterday, it said the dam was economically unjustifiable, caused serious damage to the ecosystem of the Moon river, and destroyed villagers' livelihood.

The report is billed as the first independent, comprehensive and peer-reviewed analysis of the dam in the Mekong river basin.

It confirmed previous accounts of the report leaked to the press but disputed by the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand, the project developer.

Pak Moon is one of seven dams throughout the world studied by the commission team, which examined the dams' economic impact, their environmental consequences, social implications, the decision-making processes and institutional structures underpinning the projects.

It was an attempt "to establish common ground in the fiercely contested battlefield of resource development", according to James Workman, a spokesman for the commission.

The commission was set up by the World Conservation Union IUCN and the World Bank. On the question of predicted versus actual benefits, cost and impact, the cost overrun between the estimated cost of 3.88 billion baht and the actual cost of 6.507 billion baht was not considered excessive.

However, compensation and resettlement costs increased 182% from the estimated 231.55 million baht to 1,113.1 million baht. Compensation for loss in fisheries, unanticipated in the original estimate, accounted for 395.6 million baht.

The actual electricity generating capacity of Pak Moon project calculated from daily power output during 1995-98 was only 20.81 MW compared to the estimated capacity of 150 MW. "The project is considered not economically justifiable," the report said.

The Pak Moon project was presented as a multi-purpose development project, but irrigation benefits of a run-of-river project were doubtful. The fish yield expected from the 60 sq km reservoir was 100 kg/hectares/year without fish stocking and 220 kg/ha/year with the fish-stocking programme.

A more realistic estimate would have been around 10 kg/ha/year. The actual number of households displaced by the Pak Moon dam was 1,700 instead of 241 as predicted as a result of declining fishing yield.

Of the 265 fish species recorded in the Moon-Chi watershed before 1994, only 96 species were recorded in the upstream region. Fish catches upstream declined by 60-80%.

The fish pass, or fish ladder, constructed after the completion of the dam at a cost of two million baht, has been found to have failed to help upstream fish migration.

The cost of stocking the head pond with fresh water prawn (Macrobrachium rosenbergi) ranged between US$31,920 and US$44,240 annually (1.213-1.681 million baht at 38 baht to the dollar) between 1995-98.

However, because the species cannot breed in fresh water, its stocking may not generate any income for the fishermen. Fishing communities reported a 50-100% decline in catches and the disappearance of many fish species.

More than 50 natural rapids were permanently submerged. These rapids served as a habitat for a number of fish species. The implication of the loss of rapids for fisheries was not assessed in the project's environmental impact study.

On the question of who gained and who lost, the report concluded "all stakeholders stand to lose, not only from a disrupted eco-system but also from increased expenditure at mitigation efforts that is unlikely to mitigate the losses".

The report blamed the authorities for not consulting affected villagers in the early stages of the decision-making process, nor making attempts to include them in decision-making on the project or mitigation measures.

It said the project did not comply with the existing World Bank guidelines that required a new environmental impact assessment and appropriate impact mitigation prior to the implementation of the redesigned project.

Copyright © Asia Intelligence Wire

19.09.00 : Rivers management policy of Poland is threatening its entry into European Union

Rivers management policy of Poland is threatening its entry into European Union.

WWF is warning of the consequences of non-ecological river development plans / the adjustment of Poland to European Union environmental legislation is insufficient.

The entry of Poland into EU could be delay if it doesn't adapt its policy to European Union environmental legislation, in particular if it doesn't cancel two controversial river development projects. That's what the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) declared during a conference in Brussels broadcast on the Internet. The two projects in question are a dam on the lower Weichsel and the 1.9 billion Euro river program "Oder 2006".

Further information (in German) can be found at : http://www.wwf.de

Polens Flusspolitik gefaehrdet EU-Beitritt

WWF warnt vor umweltschaedlichen Folgen von Flussbaumassnahmen / Anpassung an EU-Umweltgesetzgebung unzureichend Polens baldige Aufnahme in die EU koennte sich verzoegern, falls das Land an zwei strittigen Flussausbauprojekten festhaelt. Davor warnte die Umweltstiftung World Wide Fund For Nature(WWF)auf einer im Internet live uebertragenen Pressekonferenz in Bruessel.Umstritten sind ein Staudamm an der unteren Weichsel sowie das 1,9 Mrd. Euro teure Flussprogramm "Oder 2006".

Weitere Informationen finden Sie unter: http://www.wwf.de

18.09.00 : The 4th International Rhine Conference

The 4th International Rhine Conference is organised by the International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine (ICPR) in close co-operation with the Rotterdam Municipal Port Management (RMPM).

he following main questions will be addressed:

- which substances in the river Rhine still create problems for the river, the port or the North Sea environment

- which measures have to be taken to reach the goal of the New Rhine Convention, to help restore the Rhine and the North sea and improve sediment quality so that dredged material may be relocated or beneficially used without adversely affecting the environment

- which will be the resulting challenges for an integrated river catchment

coastal zone management

The conference is split in two parts: a politically oriented part on the first day (23 November 2000) and a scientifically oriented part on the second day (24 November 2000). On this second day generic and technical issues will be discussed in parallel theme sessions. A poster session is planned for both days.

If you want to know more about the programme and hotel accommodations, please surf to the internet-sites of the ICPR (www.iksr.org) or the RMPM (www.port.rotterdam.nl).

back to the Homepage

These pages and their content are © Copyright of European Rivers Network.
For more information, remarks or propositions, send us a message !.

back to the Homepage

These pages and their content are © Copyright of European Rivers Network.
For more information, remarks or propositions, send us a message !.