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"Newer news"

  • 07.11.00 : Canadian Group Wants More Dams Dismantled
  • 06.11.00 : David Brower, Environmental Champion, Dies at 88
  • 06.11.00 : IUCN Resolution on Protection of Asia's Major River Systems that Flow from Tibet
  • 05.11.00 : Details on the launch programme of the WCD final report.
  • 04.11.00 : British government has not reached a decision on granting state credits for the Ilisu Dam
  • 03.11.00 : Protests against Ilisu held in London
  • 27.10.00 : Troubles Ahead for China Dam Project

    Older news

Text :

07.11.00 : Canadian Group Wants More Dams Dismantled

By Neville Judd
VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Canada, November 7, 2000 (ENS)

After persuading authorities to approve Canada's first large dam decommissioning, a west coast recreation group is to review dams around the province in a bid to identify more that could be dismantled.
Mark Angelo has received the National River Conservation Award as Canada's outstanding river conservationist of the past decade and was also the recipient of the 1997 Minister's Environment Award. (Photo courtesy B.C. Ministry of Environment, Land and Parks)
In March, the Outdoor Recreation Council of British Columbia (ORC) persuaded the provincial government to decommission a dam on the Theodosia River, north of the coastal town of Powell River. In 1956, the year the 90 metre (292 foot) dam was built, the river thrived with 100,000 pink salmon, 50,000 chum salmon, and 10,000 coho salmon.
By last year, pinks had disappeared, and only 2,000 to 3,000 chum returned with three dozen coho. Habitat restoration is at the heart of today's launch of the Dam Review Project, ORC chairman Mark Angelo told ENS.
"There is a need to identify those dams in the province that are no longer useful or provide only marginal benefit," said Angelo. "And the decommissioning or removal of some of these structures will create some wonderful habitat restoration opportunities."
There are 2,167 licensed dams in B.C. and several hundred more smaller, unlicensed dams built several decades ago. Most are owned privately, or by local governments. Angelo estimated 10 percent have outlived their usefulness and should be either decommissioned or dismantled.
"Once a dam gets to be 50 years old you have to look at the safety aspects and whether it still serves its purpose. We need to make good case that we would be better off environmentally, culturally, socially and economically, by decommissioning or dismantling a dam.
"Decommissioning is a staged approach to restoring the flow of the river. It's not always necessary to eliminate the entire structure," said Angelo.
ORC represents 40 groups with a membership of 120,000 people. It plans to enlist its members in the review project by collating information at a local level throughout the province.
"There's no doubt that there is a lot of information at the local level and this is the first attempt to collate that information," said Angelo.
By the end of November ORC will have a website online. The site will provide information about dam decommissioning activities and allow the public to make submissions and give feedback about dams in their communities.
Despite the size of the project, Angelo expects ORC will issue its first Dam Review Project report next June, possibly listing the first candidates for decommissioning. "We will be asking the government to take a look and hope to get the support of NGOs [non-governmental offices]."
ORC's initiative is similar to decommissioning projects in the United States and elsewhere in the world. Last year, two dozen dams, from Idaho to North Carolina, were either decommissioned or dismantled. This year, another 18 were earmarked for action.
The most significant of last year's projects was the Edwards Dam on the Kennebec River in Maine. When the dam was breached in July 1999, allowing the river to run free after 162 years, it marked the first time a dam has been removed solely for environmental protection.
The deal struck on the Theodosia River involved agreement between the provincial government and Pacifica Papers Inc., which used water diverted by the dam to generate hydroelectric power for its paper mill.
The company agreed that the cost benefits of diverting water for power generation had to be weighed against environmental concerns.
The B.C. Heritage Rivers Board listed the Theodosia River as number two on a top-10 list of the province's most endangered rivers in 1999. It is widely felt that the dam was the main reason for the collapse of salmon stocks in the river.

06.11.00 : David Brower, Environmental Champion, Dies at 88

By Cat Lazaroff
BERKELEY, California, November 6, 2000 (ENS) - David Brower, a man applauded by conservationists around the world as a true environmental champion, died Sunday night at his home in Berkeley. Brower, 88, worked up until his death to support issues near and dear to his heart - including this year's closely fought presidential race.

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06.11.00 : IUCN Resolution on Protection of Asia's Major River Systems that Flow from Tibet

International Committee of Lawyers for Tibet
October 16, 2000
China Agrees to International Resolution to Protect Asia's Rivers
A resolution to protect Asia's major river systems was adopted at the 2nd World Conservation Congress by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) held in Amman, Jordan, October 4 - 11th. The resolution was sponsored by the Berkeley-based International Committee of Lawyers for Tibet (ICLT) with co-sponsors the Sierra Club, the Wilderness Society of Australia, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from India, Nepal, and Vietnam. "The resolution represents an important first step in getting the Chinese involved in cooperative environmental efforts," said ICLT delegation chairperson D'Arcy Richardson, "and in getting them to sit down with Tibetans to negotiate an agreement."
The resolution recognizes that overexploitation or misuse of Asia's major river systems could negatively affect these systems as well as the livelihoods of a significant proportion of the world's population. It sets up a process to evaluate and recommend mechanisms for conservation and sustainable management of these waters for the common interest of the riparian countries.
"While the language of the resolution was weaker than what we wanted," Richardson said, "we preserved the ability of the Tibetans to participate thus lending legitimacy to their ownership of the resources in Tibet. As it now stands, the environmental relationship between China and Tibet is one of a colony where resources are extracted and the benefits accrue to the occupier, not the local people."
The Congress brought together over 2,000 delegates from all over the world and focused on "EcoSpace" -- the concept that environmental issues cross national boundaries and need to be dealt with cooperatively on an international scale.

Full text of the resolution :

The International Committee of Lawyers for Tibet advocates self-determination for the Tibetan people. Through legal action and education, ICLT promotes human rights, environmental protection, and peaceful resolution of the situation in Tibet. A non-profit membership organization, based in Berkeley, California, ICLT is supported by attorneys, other concerned individuals, and organization. See our website:
IUCN Resolution on Protection of Asia's Major River Systems that Flow from Tibet
ACKNOWLEDGING that Asia's major river systems, including their watershed areas, support the livelihoods of a significant proportion of the world's human population both within and across countries;
AWARE that these river systems are home to a great diversity of ecosystems with a wealth of plant and animal life;
FURTHER AWARE that overexploitation or misuse of these river systems and their surrounding lands may lead to habitat loss, species extinction, soil erosion, siltation, pollution, flooding, and unstable water flows that may threaten the integrity of these rivers;
ENCOURAGED by the recent efforts of riparian countries to address critical issues affecting the protection of these waters, such as: a) logging bans in the upper watersheds of the Yangtze; b) the commitment to establish a wetlands reserve to protect the headwaters of the Yangtze, Yellow, and Lancang (Mekong) Rivers; c) coordination by Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam on Mekong River conservation; and d) NGO [non-governmental organizations] initiatives for forest protection in the Himalayan region;
APPLAUDING the World Conservation Union's proposed Overall Quadrennial Programme for 2001-2004;
NOTING its orientation towards producing measurable progress in each of its seven Key Result Areas, including ecosystem protection;
EMPHASIZING that any efforts to protect and manage these river systems should take into account the needs of local people to maintain their livelihood, and should involve local communities in this process in order to be effective and sustainable;
RECALLING Resolution 19.23 (The important of community-based approaches) adopted by the 19th Session of the General Assembly (Buenos Aires, 1994) and Recommendation 1.42 (Collaborative management for conservation) adopted by the 1st Session of the World Conservation Congress (Montreal, 1996);
The World Conservation Congress at its 2nd Session in Amman, Jordan, 4-11 October 2000:
CALLS ON the riparian countries to utilise fully the existing co-operative mechanisms and arrangements for conservation and sustainable management of these important waters; and REQUESTS the Director General to:
a) Conduct a study on the necessity and feasibility of establishing a new mechanism for conservation and sustainable management of these waters for the common interest of the riparian countries;
b) On completion of this study to convene, if necessary, a meeting of governments and organisations of riparian countries to discuss the findings of the study and determine agreed appropriate follow up actions;
c) Assist in obtaining the necessary funding for activities related to this resolution.

05.11.00 : Details on the launch programme of the WCD final report.

from: Corli Pretorius, Programme Officer, World Commission on Dams

Dear Forum Members
Kindly find below more details on our launch programme until the end of the year.

Launch and dissemination of Final Report
The official launch of Dams and Development, the WCD's final report, will take place on November 16, 2000 at Cabot Hall, Canary Wharf, London UK.. Thereafter we will interact with stakeholders across the world through a series of regional events after the launch in London (see international briefings, below).

London launch - programme: 10:00-11:15 - WCD Press conference 11:15-11:30 - Formal signing of the report by the members of the Commission 11:30-13:00 - Launch Ceremony Guest speakers Nelson Mandela - Former President, South Africa HRH The Prince of Orange - Chairman, The Second World Water Forum Kader Asmal - Chair, World Commission on Dams Mary Robinson - High Commissioner, UN High Commission for Human Rights Maritta von Bieberstein Koch-Weser - Director General, IUCN - The World Conservation Union James Wolfensohn - President, The World Bank 13:00-14:30 - Reception/Light Lunch 14:30-16:00- Briefing session and discussion on major findings and recommendations of the WCD Report. This afternoon session will allow for interaction with Commissioners and Secretariat on the major findings and recommendations of the report. As we are holding briefing sessions throughout the world the Commission will be unable to cover expenses for the whole Forum to attend the launch in London. A complimentary copy of the final report will be mailed to Forum members who are unable to attend the launch, and we hope to see you at one of our regional events. We intend to release the full Commission's report on our website at 14.00 on the 16th of November and it will be available through Earthscan publications in hard and soft cover. We have agreed with Earthscan that the report will be available to southern non-governmental organisations for 35% less than the usual price. We have also been preparing a summary of the report, which will be available in 9 languages by the end of the year. We are working to have French, Spanish, Portuguese and German versions on our website on 16 November. Russian, Chinese, Japanese and Hindu will follow shortly after.

International briefings
Following the official launch of the report in London on 16 November, Commissioners and staff will organise briefing sessions around the world to bring the report to the attention of governments, private sector, civil society and donors.
The following events are now confirmed and logistical details will be released on our website as soon as confirmed:
(The e-mail address of the Secretariat co-ordinator is indicated for each event)
17 November - Berlin, Germany (
17 November - New York (hosted by UNEP and WCD) (
18 November - Islamabad, Pakistan ( )
20 November - Washington, USA ( )
20 November - Ankara, Turkey ( )
21 November - Colombo, Sri Lanka ( )
22 November - Dakar, Senegal ( )
23 November - Buenos Aires, Argentina ( )
23 November - Pretoria, South Africa ( )
23 November - Moscow, Russia ( or )
24 November - Bangkok, Thailand ( )
24 November - Santiago, Chile ( )
27 November - São Paulo, Brazil ( )
27 November - Tokyo, Japan ( )
30 November - Oslo, Norway ( )
Further events (to be confirmed) in: Canberra, Australia ( ) Paris, France ( )

For further information about these events, please contact myself or the relevant Secretariat member at the offices of the WCD Secretariat.
With my best wishes
Corli Pretorius Programme Officer World Commission on Dams
Phone: +27 21 426 4000 Fax: +27 21 426 0036

04.11.00 : British government has not reached a decision on granting state credits for the Ilisu Dam

by K. Observer

Answering the July 12, 2000 report issued by the International Development Committee (IDC), the British government said it had not yet reached a decision on granting state credits for the Ilisu Dam, and added that it would make that decision when the project had reached the stage in which the contract was ready to be signed.
The Tony Blair administration has given its response to the report expressing concerns over the Ilisu Dam that was prepared by the International Development Committee (IDC). The IDC, which is comprised of deputies in the British parliament from the Labour Party, the Conservative Party, and the Liberal Democratic Party, had prepared a 45-page report dated July 12 of this year that expressed deep concerns about the Ilisu Dam project. With this project, the Turkish government plans to build a large dam on the Tigris River, which, among other concerns, would result in the flooding of the historic city of Hasankeyf and the displacement of tens of thousands of local residents. Responding to the report, the Blair administration first commented on the recommendations made in the report. This "special report" containing the "thoughts of the government" was released on Monday to the press and to concerned circles. The report dealt with the evaluations made by the IDC concerning the government's stance towards the dam and the method of operation of the Export Credit Guarantee Department (ECGD), the body which guarantees credits to British investment firms investing in the international arena.
The report containing the government's reply stated that it was not possible to know beforehand which conditions for the granting of credits should be demanded in "large and complex" projects such as the Ilisu Dam and that it was therefore necessary to wait to make such a determination until the project had reached the stage at which the contract was ready to be signed. The report stated that the British government had not yet reached a decision on whether or not to guarantee the 200 million British Sterling credit which had been requested by the Balfour Beatty firm. It repeated, meanwhile, that it was necessary for the four preconditions to be fulfilled before the credits could be granted.
The committee's concerns are understandable
The response to the IDC report was given on behalf of the British government by Stephen Byers, Minister of Commerce and Industry. Byers said that they had read the July 12 IDC report "with interest" and that they had taken the analyses made by the IDC concerning the project under their consideration. Byers called attention to the committee's appraisal that, "action to grant the credit was taken too early; this export credit comprises the worst example of such application. The Ilisu Dam has violated international standards from the very start and continues to violate them. Therefore, the credits should not be granted." In response to this appraisal, Byers said that "the government understands the concerns of the committee and it agrees that human rights, environmental, and other concerns should be stipulated early."
The British minister nevertheless defended the ECGD's decision to guarantee the credit, and said, "It might not always be clear at the beginning to the ECGD, at the first stage of appraising the applications for large and complicated projects, what conditions must be demanded."


03.11.00 : Protests against Ilisu held in London

British politicians and human rights and environmental organizations called on the British government not to support the Ilisu Dam.
The Ilisu Dam was once more protested on the same day that the British government released its response to the Ilisu Report prepared by the parliamentary International Development Committee (IDC). A group of deputies and representatives of environmental and human rights organizations gathered in parliamentary square and protested the Ilisu Dam, calling attention to the fact that the dam which is planned to be built on the Tigris River would be "harmful to regional peace, human rights, and the environment." A number of politicians and human rights activists gave speeches at the meeting of about 150 protesters in which they concentrated on the damage and environmental effects of the dam.
Those who spoke at the protest meeting were British comedian Mark Thomas, European Parliament deputy and member of the House of Lords Baroness Sarah Ludford, Tony Juniper, Chairman of the Kurdish Human Rights Project (KHRP) Kerim Yildiz, and Jean Lambert, speaking on behalf of the Greens party.
The demonstration was organized in the framework of the continuing nation-wide campaign against the Ilisu Dam. Speaking to a crowd which was holding up placards saying "No to Ilisu," famous British comedian Mark Thomas called attention to the success of the nation-wide campaign and thanked those who had given their support.
The thoughts of those in the region must be considered
Speaking on behalf of Friends of the Earth, Tony Juniper said that the Ilisu Dam threatened peace in the region and harshly criticized the Tony Blair government.
Kerim Yildiz, for his part, drew attention to recent behavior of the Turkish government and, referring to the torture that had allegedly been carried out against the Mothers for Peace who are currently incarcerated, said, "The British government must take these into consideration when it gives its decision." Yildiz also recalled that the number of people who would be affected by the dam was "not 25,000 but 78,000."
Speaking on behalf of the Greens party, Jean Lambert called attention to damage to the environment that would be caused by the Ilisu Dam.
Following the demonstration in parliamentary square, a group proceeded to the residence of the British government and delivered post cards that had been collected in the framework of the campaign.
Meeting in Parliament
Meanwhile, a panel discussion was held the same day late in the evening in the British Parliament. The panel discussed the Export Credit Guarantee Department (ECGD), which guarantees state credits to British firms investing abroad. Deputy Jenney Tonge chaired the meeting, which was also participated in by deputy Alan Simpson and representatives of the World Development Movement, Friends of the Earth, the Campaign against Weapons Trade, the Kurdish Human Rights Project, Corner House, Oxfam, and other nongovernmental organizations. The speakers at the meeting said that the ECGD must take the factors of human rights and the environment into consideration when deciding which credits to guarantee.

27.10.00 : Troubles Ahead for China Dam Project

The management of China's Three Gorges dam project has announced a revision of its energy distribution plan that suggests the scheme is headed for serious financial setbacks.
Three Gorges is expected to be the world's largest source of hydroelectric power if it begins operations on schedule in 2003. But it's been hampered for years by substantial budget problems, mismanagement and construction delays. The project was originally expected to cost about $11 billion, but recent estimates put the cost at more than $24 billion.
Environmental regulators will soon require each Chinese province to supply 5.5 percent of its power from renewable resources. This is most likely a means of subsidizing hydropower stations in the country's slow-growing inland provinces, where electricity buyers are harder to find. It's also a way to redistribute coastal wealth to China's interior and help reduce economic disparities between regions of the country.
It now seems managers of the Three Gorges project are looking for this type of support. The dam is projected to generate 18,200 megawatts of power. About 2,000 megawatts were to be used by the western city of Chongqing, near the dam itself, with another 12,000 megawatts destined for provinces in central China.
According to the project's deputy director, authorities in Chongqing have refused their entire allocation of power from the dam, citing an existing surplus of generating capacity. Instead, those 2,000 megawatts--and another 1,000 megawatts turned down by two central provinces--will be diverted to energy-hungry Guangdong Province, one of China's wealthiest regions.
There's no doubt Guangdong needs more power. The province is China's export powerhouse, and growth in export demand accounts for part of the phenomenal 18.6 percent rise in electricity consumption in the first six months of 2000. Parts of Guangdong suffered shortages in June, when a heat wave raised air-conditioning demand.
Much of western China, on the other hand, is struggling economically. Officials in Chongqing - once part of Sichuan province, but recently given "independent municipality" status - have already reneged on a pledge to buy large amounts of power from the nearby Ertan dam. This suggests Chongqing's state-owned industries are still floundering, and that electricity demand has grown more slowly than expected.
Beijing's leaders must be fuming at the situation's irony. Chongqing's political profile was raised as a sweetener for local officials, who opposed the Three Gorges dam on the grounds it would interfere with the city's port traffic. Now that the project is having trouble finding buyers for its electricity, the promotion has given Chongqing the leverage to walk away from an unfavorable marketing arrangement.
Chongqing's successful showdown with the center may reflect the newfound clout of western officials, but the cost to China may be very high. Sending Three Gorges power to Guangdong is probably not a sound alternative to selling it locally. Transmission losses are bound to be enormous: the distance between Guangzhou and the main dam site, near Yichang in Hubei province, is some 650 miles.
By contrast, Hong Kong lies just across the border from Guangdong and already enjoys a surplus of power, thanks to archaic utility regulations that prohibit competition between the city's two power companies, Hongkong Electric and CLP Holdings.
Regulators require them to maintain separate "reserve margins" of generating capacity to meet unexpected demand peaks. Guangdong is already buying some of Hong Kong's spare power, and a fully liberalized electricity market would encourage it to buy even more.
But using the Three Gorges as a power source instead will mean more revenue for the dam's developers - and that could be crucial to making the dam project acceptable to local residents.
Efforts to relocate farmers from the area are moving very slowly, and there are reports that much of the money set aside for compensation payments has been skimmed off by corrupt officials. Hidden subsidies to the hydropower sector, like last week's "green energy" policy, perhaps should be seen not as environmental initiatives but as an attempt by the central government to prevent public anger from boiling over.


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For more information, remarks or propositions, send us a message !.