06.04.03 : Human Rights
Crisis at Three Gorges as Officials Plan to Fill
The reservoir of the controversial Three Gorges Dam
in China's Yangtze Valley is officially scheduled to start filling
on April 10, aggravating already serious human rights problems in
the resettlement areas. A recent report shows that resettlement
problems of this internationally publicly funded project have not
been resolved, and that project construction is linked to systematic
human rights violations. One official in Chongqing who is in charge
of the resettlement did not deny totally that there are serious
problems but said it is natural that there should be some problems.
He also noted that submergence of the reservoir
zone is certain to be delayed. Many experts are still examining
the engineering work and to a lesser extent the progress and quality
in resettlement. The official said this work will not be finished
before April 10th. He said he was certain it would be postponed
but could not predict when it will actually take place. At the annual
session of the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva this week,
International Rivers Network and Friends of the Earth International
have called on China to suspend submergence until the project's
human rights problems have been resolved. They have also called
on Western governments that fund the dam to ensure that the project
comply with international norms. So far, 640,000 people have been
resettled for the Three Gorges Project. An investigative report
published by International Rivers Network (IRN) reveals that the
record of compensating and rehabilitating the affected people has
been abysmal in many areas, and does not meet international standards.
"Land and jobs to rehabilitate affected people are no longer
available", says Doris Shen, coordinator of IRN's East Asia
"According to recent interviews, resettlement funds continue
to be corrupted and diverted into the pockets of local officials."
(see interviews below) A submission that IRN and FoE International
presented to the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva on March
31 documents that the construction of the Three Gorges Project is
linked to the systematic violation of human
rights. "No independent grievance mechanism exists in which
people can claim their right to fair compensation, and the police
have used excessive force to quell many protests against the project",
IRN's policy director Peter Bosshard reported in Geneva. "Many
people have been detained, and in some cases sentenced to long prison
terms, for engaging in peaceful protests."
IRN and FoE International presented their demands to the Chinese
and Western governments at an NGO briefing at the UNCHR. The groups
call for the submergence of the Three Gorges reservoir to be suspended
as long as the resettlement and human rights problems remain unresolved.
Affected people should not suffer repression for seeking redress
for the damage they
have suffered, and the people who have been imprisoned for organizing
and protesting peacefully should be immediately released. FoE International
and IRN are also holding the governments that have provided funding
for the Three Gorges Dam accountable for the human rights impacts
of the project. Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland
have extended export credits and guarantees to the tune of more
than $1.4 billion for the project. In many cases the governments
claimed that their involvement would reduce the risk of human rights
abuses. On March 31, the environmental groups called on the involved
governments to closely monitor the human rights situation in the
project area, and to extend no further export credits as long as
the problems have not been resolved. In response
to the IRN report, the Swiss foreign minister committed to
"gathering additional information from a variety of sources"
on the problems of the Three Gorges Project. Canada's foreign minister
in turn claimed that Canada's involvement in the project was "minor"
and "as a result, our ability to influence project implementation
and impacts is very limited". The other involved governments
have so far not responded to the
IRN report. "The failure by most Western governments to take
any action in the face of serious human rights violations defeats
the justification of why these governments got involved in the Three
Gorges Project in the first place", comments Janneke Bruil
of Friends of the Earth International. ### Background: With a planned
capacity of 18,200 megawatts, the Three Gorges
Dam is the world's largest power project. More than 1.2 million
people - and according to some estimates, up to 1.9 million people
- will have to be resettled for the project. Reservoir filling will
start on April 10, and will continue to 2008. Project officials
have announced that additional contracts for turbines and generators
for the Three Gorges power plant will be tendered before the end
of 2003. The investigative report on the Three Gorges Project is
available at http://www.irn.org/programs/threeg/3gcolor.pdf
The IRN March 31, 2003 presentation to United Nations Commission
on Human Rights is at http://www.irn.org/programs/threeg/index.asp?id=030331.unchrpres.html
Further background information on the Three Gorges Project, video
of the resettlement process, and photos of the Three Gorges area
02.04.03 : Iraq : Biblical
Garden of Eden to disappear in five years
(EDIE News) As one would expect in a war-torn nation,
Iraqs environment is in a poor state, but a legacy of poor
environmental management is also to blame, with the Marshlands of
Mesopotamia, considered by some to be the site of the biblical Garden
of Eden, expected to disappear within five years, says a new UN
complet Texte: http://www.edie.net/gf.cfm?L=left_frame.html&R=http://www.edie.net/news/Archive/6816.cfm
WWF today condemned governments at the World Water Forum for their
failure to commit to a sustainable approach to ensure adequate water
supply and sanitation.
regrets that instead of prioritizing the conservation of freshwater
ecosystems the source of all freshwater the Forum
emphasized the need for more water and energy infrastructure to
meet the worlds growing demand. This blatantly disregards
the UN Millennium Development goal to halve the number of people
without access to water and sanitation by 2015, because much of
this infrastructure will inevitably cause further social, economic,
and environmental damage.
has been badly served by their governments at this forum, who have
adopted a ministerial declaration that is a backward step from previous
commitments," said Jamie Pittock, Director of WWF's Living
Waters Programme. "We have to ask how credible a forum like
this is when governments do not draw on the 12,000 water specialists
gathered together to identify common sense solutions to water problems,
but instead continue to promote massive infrastructure as the sole
solution to the world's water crisis."
omission in particular will affect millions of people, fisheries,
wildlife and water sources. This was the absolute failure by governments
to commit to review dam development projects. The findings of the
first ever global research on the effect of dams compiled by the
World Commission on Dams contained guidelines for dam developments
and can reduce the loss of billions of dollars worth of damage that
many large dams have already caused. WWF's call on governments to
commit to using these guidelines went unheeded as pro-dam governments
claimed environmental and social impacts of dams could be reduced,
but could not agree on how to do so. For example, they were not
able to agree to "environmental flows," the release of
water from dams to help rivers function as naturally as possible.
This is key to sustaining fisheries, floodplain forests and agriculture.
The credibility of the forum was also undermined by the government's
failure to acknowledge and commit to action to manage the impact
of climate change on freshwater ecosystems and resources.
were some positive signals. A few encouraging ouctomes include general
recognition that investment is needed to improve environmental health
as a source of clean water for people and nature; a commitment to
conserve freshwater fisheries upon which the livelihoods of millions
of people depend; and recognition that cooperation between countries
that share rivers is essential to sustain their water supplies.
declaration could have been a blueprint for averting further human
suffering caused by inadequate water supply and sanitation, instead
it is marked by reticence to put protection of ecosystems first,"
said Jamie Pittock. "Governments must make conservation of
ecosystems the starting point of any action plan to manage water
resources if they are serious about ensuring water for all."
information: Mitzi Borromeo Press Officer, WWF International E-mail:
Lisa Hadeed Communications Manager, WWF Living Waters Programme
Tel.: +41 22 364 9030 E-mail: LHadeed@wwfint.org
22.03.03. : World Water Day celebreted
in Ebro Delta : 30 000 people.
Press release by the P.D.E.
The Platform for the Defence of the river Ebro
(PDE) have celebrated World
Water Day in Tortosa (Terres de l'Ebre, Catalonia).
On Friday, 21.3.03, Professor Javier Martinez
Gil, Doctor in Hydrology at the University of Zaragoza gave a conference
to over 100 people on the New Water Culture and how the Terres de
l'Ebre (Lower Ebro region) are leading the way in new water thinking
On Saturday morning (22.3.03), activists
of the PDE and local citizens paraded through the streets of Tortosa
as a "River of Life", giving out information on
our campaign (against the out-dated Spanish National Hydrological
At the same time the Mayor of Tortosa was
signing an agreement with the Foundation for a New Water Culture
(FNCA) to open their office here in Tortosa. The FNCA is composed
of over seventy Spanish university professors and other experts
in the world of water, economy, agriculture, sociology, and ecology.
Their objectives are the creation of and diffusion of the New Water
Culture so desperately needed in Spain in the 21st century.
In the afternoon, the FNCA read out a declaration
of Peace and Water in a live connection with the Alternative
Water Forum in Florence.
In the evening there was an official act of the
FNCA in the presence of the PDE, local institutions and other citizens
of the Terres de l'Ebre. About 300 people gathered in Tortosa's
theatre to hear various members of the FNCA and to attend the giving
of the first annual prize for a New Water Culture, consisting
of a bronze "dragon" and 3,000 euros. The prize was awarded
to COAGRET (an association of the various groups in Spain
affected by dam building and water transfers). The local component
of COAGRET is the Anti-Transfer Co-ordinator which forms a part
of the huge voluntary social movement known as the Platform for
the Defence of the river Ebro currently campaigning against the
On Sunday (23.3.03) over 30,000 people demonstrated
in Sant Jaume, in the centre of the Ebro Delta, in a
colourful, spectacular, peaceful demonstration against the Ebro
transfer. Local citizens were joined by the "Nunca Mais"
social movement of Galicians affected by the Prestige disaster.
Also present were groups from the entire Ebro Basin and other parts
of Catalonia and Spain.
We feel World Water day was celebrated successfully
this weekend but we cannot stop there.
PDE PRESS RELEASE.
22.03.03 : Célébration
du Jour Mondial de l'Eau dans le Delta de l'Ebre : 30 000 personnes.
Communiqué de presse de la PDE (Plataforma en Defensa del
La Plateforme pour la Défense de l'Ebre (PDE)
a célébré le Jour Mondial de l'Eau à
Tortosa (Terres de l'Ebre, Catalogne).
Le vendredi 21 mars 2003, le Professeur
Javier Martinez Gil, Docteur en Hydrologie à l'Université
de Zaragoza a donné une conférence devant plus
de 100 personnes sur la Nouvelle Culture de l'Eau et comment les
Terres de l'Ebre (région la plus basse de l'Ebre) montrent
la voie sur la nouvelle façon de "penser" l'eau
Le samedi matin, (22.3.03), des activistes
de la PDE et des citoyens locaux ont déferlé dans
les rues de Tortosa, comme une "Rivière de vie"
et ont distribué de l'information sur notre campagne contre
l'archaÏque Plan Hydrologique National (PHN) espagnol.
Au même moment, le Maire de Tortosa
signait un accord avec la Fondation pour une Nouvelle Culture
de l'Eau (FNCA) pour l'ouverture de leur bureau à
Tortosa. La FNCA est composée de plus de 70 professeurs
d'universités espagnoles et autres experts, dans le monde
de l'eau, l'économie, l'agriculture, la sociologie et l'écologie.
Ses objectifs sont la création et la diffusion de la Nouvelle
Culture de l'Eau, si désespéremment nécessaire
en Espagne, pour le 21ème siècle.
Dans l'après-midi, la FNCA a lu une déclaration
sur la Paix et l'Eau, en connection directe avec le Forum Alternatif
de l'Eau de Florence.
Dans la soirée, s'est déroulée
une cérémonie officielle organisée par la FNCA,
en présence de la PDE, des institutions locales et de citoyens
des Terres de l'Ebre. Dans le théâtre de Tortosa, environ
300 personnes se sont rassemblés pour écouter divers
orateurs de la FNCA et pour assister à la remise du premier
prix annuel pour une Nouvelle Culture de l'Eau. Ce prix consiste
en un "dragon" de bronze et 3 000 euros. Le prix fut décerné
à COAGRET (une association de plusieurs comités
en Espagne, affectés par la construction de barrages et de
transferts d'eau). Le but principal de COAGRET est d'établir
une Coordination Anti-Transfert. Cette association fait partie de
l'énorme mouvement social volontaire, connu comme la Plateforme
de Défense de l'Ebre, actuellement en campagne contre le
transfert de l'Ebre.
Dimanche 23 mars 2003, plus de 30 000
personnes ont défilé à Sant Jaume, dans
le centre du Delta de l'Ebre. dans une manifestation colorée,
spectaculaire et pacifique, contre le Transfert de l'Ebre. Les citoyens
locaux furent rejoints par le mouvement social "Nunca Mais"
des Galliciens affectés par le désastre du Prestige.
D'autres groupes étaient également présents,
venus de tout le bassin de l'Ebre et d'autres parties de Catalogne
Nous estimons que le Jour Mondial de l'Eau fut ainsi
célébré avec beaucoup de succès. Mais
nous ne nous arrêterons pas là.
Communiqué PDE/ Traduction ERN.
17.03.03: Don't bank on
dams alone, urges WWF (at the World Water Forum Kyoto)
Kyoto, Japan As the 3rd World Water Forum
opens in Japan, WWF has warned that investors are risking some of
the US$40 billion that is invested annually in dam projects that
carry serious, hidden, long-term environmental, social, and economic
costs.According to a WWF guide for investors
in dams released this week, many investors are failing to carry
out comprehensive assessments that would enable them to determine
the long-term financial viability and public acceptability of a
proposed dam, before they agree to fund it. The guide underlines
that dams are often seen as an easy solution to a range of issues
such as water shortages or growth in energy supply. However, without
a proper analysis of energy and water needs, and the impacts of
the dam, investors risk putting their money into a project that
is not viable in the long term and risk their reputation.
"Investors can no longer afford to shut
their ears and eyes to the long term impacts of water management
projects around the world," said Jamie Pittock, Director of
WWFs Living Waters Programme. "If we are to solve the
problems of the millions without access to water for drinking and
sanitation, we must think beyond the age-old solutions of dams,
dikes, and water transfer between river basins. WWF expects the
World Water Forum to provide clear guidance on how we can service
the world without simply resorting to expensive and socially and
environmentally damaging infrastructure-based projects."
According to the WWF guide, the financial
pitfalls associated with building dams include exaggerated projections
of benefits, time and cost overruns, geological instability, sovereign
risk and corruption, maintenance and decommissioning costs, and
cost recovery and dam beneficiaries. Many of these could be reduced
or even avoided if investors followed the guidelines of the World
Commission on Dams, doing thorough assessments that examine both
the need for the dam, its impacts, and alternatives, before they
agree to finance it.
According to WWF, following these guidelines
would also help to ensure that freshwater ecosystems deliver goods
and services for millions of people. For example, two-fifths of
the world's fish are freshwater species and of these, 20
per cent are threatened, endangered, or have become extinct in recent
decades. The freshwater fisheries of the Mekong River and tributaries
alone are estimated to have a market value of nearly US$1 billion
per year. However, water and energy infrastructure such as dams
are threatening these freshwater resources, including the 73 million
people living on and around the Mekong River who depend on fish
and other resources in the river system for most of the protein
in their diets.
WWF urges financiers of water infrastructure
to make conservation of ecosystems the centrepiece of any investment.
Unless we change the way we do business, we will destroy nature,
the very raw materials that make any kind of development possible."
said Jamie Pittock.
For further information:
Doug Walker Communications Manager, WWF Dams
Initiative Tel:+44 790 1687998
E-mail: DWalker@wwf.org.uk Mitzi Borromeo
Press Officer, WWF International Tel: +41 70 4773553
Note to editors:
The World Commission on Dams (WCD), established by the World
Bank and IUCN - The World Conservation Union in 1998, conducted
a comprehensive review of the performance and impacts of large dams
and issued a report (Dams and Development: A New Framework for Decision-Making)
with recommendations for a new framework for decision-makers.
: Thursday, 13 March, an international debate entitled "Debating
the water transfers of the Spanish National Hydrological Plan"
will be held by video-conference.
This debate has been organised by the Foundation
for a New Water Culture and UNED (University for Distance Education).
The centre for this debate will be in the UNED of Madrid.
The American experts who prepared the study for the University of
Cartagena will take part, as well as the American and Israeli experts
who have carried out studies for the Aragon Government. Professors
John W.Day and Edward Maltby of the Universities of Louisana and
London respectively, will also take part as prestigious experts
in the field of wetlands and river deltas. Over twenty Spanish universities
will be connected to the video-conference. The Spanish Environment
Minister has also been invited to participate.
Under the patronage of Alex de Roo, Vice-President of the environment
committee, a connection will be made available in the European Parliament,
Brussels, from 6:30pm on, for both following and participating in
the debate. The video-conf will be in room PHS 5B 001. If you wish
to attend and do not have a parliamentary pass, please contact Gianluca
Solera (mobile +32 477 676 295) before Thursday morning.
The conference can also be followed by internet form 17.30 onwards
We hope the conference will be of interest to you and provide specific
information on the Spanish Hydrological Plan.
PDE / ERN
10.03.03: Stop Alcoa From
Destroying Iceland's Wilderness!
Source: International Rivers Network via Corpwatch
The Icelandic government plans to construct a large
hydropower project in Iceland's Eastern Highlands, one of Europe's
largest remaining wilderness areas, in order to supply power to
a US aluminum smelter owned by Alcoa. The "Kahranjukar Project"
involves building miles of roads, boring a series of tunnels, diverting
dozens of rivers to create 3 reservoirs and erect nine dams, including
one that is 630 feet -- Europe's highest. The level of the immense
reservoir will fluctuate seasonally, from 170 to 250 feet.
The Karahnjukar Project would supply power to a
planned Alcoa aluminum smelter. US-based Alcoa is the world's largest
aluminum producer and is moving to Iceland not to expand production,
but to cut costs. It is closing smelters in the US and moving to
Iceland where the government is offering dirt-cheap electricity.
The aluminum plant will get a subsidized rate, thought to be about
1.5 cents/kWh. The price will rise and fall with the price of aluminum
(which is currently quite low, due to a glut on the market). The
utility has yet to release the price at which it will sell Alcoa
its hydropower. It's not just cheap power that draws Alcoa to Iceland:
Iceland's reliance on geothermal power has given it an exemption
from the Kyoto Protocol's fossil fuel emissions, which would allow
Alcoa's smelter to operate without having to pay penalties for any
carbon dioxide emissions.
What is at Stake
If Karahnjukar goes forward, a large wilderness
area will be sacrificed so that the world can consume cheaper aluminum.
The massive project will be built on the north side of Europe's
greatest glacier, Vatnajokull, a vast ice field beneath which lie
several active volcanoes. The project will drown 22 square miles
of tundra, presently the grazing grounds for more than 2,000 reindeer
and the nesting ground for the pink-footed goose, and affect the
flows of close to 60 waterfalls. In early summer, silt from the
exposed banks will blow off all over the countryside.
Iceland's equivalent of America's Grand Canyon, Dimmugljufur, or
Dark Canyon, is a deep cleft carved out by the region's most powerful
glacial river, the Jokulsa a Bru. The part of the canyon between
the edge of the glacier and the dam will be submerged; on the far
side of the dam, it will become a dry gulch, the impounded water
diverted through a 25-mile-long tunnel to the power station that
will generate the electricity needed for Alcoa's smelter. The Karahnjukar
Project officials claim that it will create close to 750 jobs in
Eastern Iceland, an economically disadvantaged region. Yet the economics
of the project are questionable. According to an independent analysis
commissioned by Iceland's Nature Conservation Agency, it will likely
produce annual losses of $36 million. These funds could be spent
for creating other jobs that don't destroy a major wilderness area.
Take Action! The Iceland Nature Conservation
Association (INCA) has led a strong campaign against Karahnjukar
for several years. So far it has included regular large demonstrations,
daily protests at the parliament building, a hunger strike and a
court case against the environment minister. The environmental activists
want to turn the area into a National Park of "Fire and Ice."
For more information, please visit: www.inca.is
But time is running out. The Icelandic government
plans to sign the agreements for the project to go ahead before
the national elections of May 2003. At this critical hour, Iceland's
campaign against Karahnjukar needs your support. Please go to
to send a free fax to Alcoa telling them to withdraw from their
destructive project in Iceland immediately.
08.03.03 : Spain designates
10 new RAMSAR sites and extends an existing one
The hosts of Ramsar COP8 in Valencia announced during
the Conference the designation of 11 new Ramsar sites. Ten of them
are now ready for inclusion in the List (the Ramsar Bureau is still
awaiting a map for the eleventh: Bahía de Cádiz).
They include small wetlands, some of them intermittent, from all
over the country, including four in the País Vasco (Basque
country) contiguous with France and one in the Canary Islands.
Read more at http://www.ramsar.org/w.n.spain_10new.htm
05.03.03 : AN INTERNATIONAL
EXCHANGE OF EXPERIENCES" PUBLISHED ON-LINE
On 5 and 6 February 2003 water directors and experts of the EU and
newly admitted states gathered to a workshop in Bonn to promote
European cooperation on flood protection. The papers of this workshop
have just been published on-line at http://www.ecologic.de/floods2003
04.03.03 : UN warns of future water crisis
UN warns of
future water crisis
The world faces an unprecedented lack of fresh water due to poor
leadership, a UN report claims.
Full story (BBC):
02.03.03 Spain : Hundred
of Thousands protest in favor of polemic water plan (AP)
thousands of people rallied Sunday in the eastern city of Valencia
in favor of a national water plan that has divided Spain since its
approval nearly two years ago.
The demonstration, called by Young Farmers Associations, attracted
tens of thousands of agricultural workers, business representatives
and political party members from the eastern and southern regions
of Valencia, Murcia and Almeria, three areas which stand to benefit
most from the plan.
Read more at
Source: AP World Politics / WaterTech.Online
28.02.03: China: Don't ignore downsides
of dams, official warns
by Kelly Haggart
Pan Jiazheng, one of China's top engineers, has issued a strongly
worded warning to his profession not to deny the disadvantages of
water projects, or neglect to address the harmful impacts when they
complet Texte see Probe 3 Gorges Website
26.02.03: Signing of Rhine cooperation
agreement in Kyoto
His Royal Highness
the Prince of Orange will attend the Third World Water Forum in
Kyoto, Japan, from 16-18 March 2003. He will deliver an address
during the opening session and will attend a session on Water and
Climate and the Youth Water Forum. The Prince will also be present
at the signing of a cooperation agreement by the two international
river commissions for the Rhine and Plata rivers. A Ministerial
Conference will be held on 22 and 23 March on the occasion of the
World Water Forum in Kyoto. The Conference will discuss the global
Source: Netherlands Government Information Service RVD
25.02.03: EU tax payers should
not fund Spain's damaging water plan (WWF)
and numerous complaints, Spain seems determined to push ahead with
the Spanish National Hydrological Plan (SNHP) and its largest element,
the Ebro River water transfer - a massive undertaking that will
redistribute water from one end of the country to the other. The
flooding of the Ebro River this month added further fuel to the
political fire, stimulating calls to pipe "excess" water
to the south instead of "losing" it to the sea. But this
outdated plan goes against sustainable development, modern water
and river basin management, and environmental protection - all concepts
enshrined in EU laws. This could even make subsidising it with some
€8 billion of EU money, which Spain plans to request from the
European Commission, illegal.
for more information on the PHN visit our pages on ERNs SERVER FOR
LIVING RIVERS (engl, français, spanish)
17-18.06.03 : European Flooding: Managing
the Risks, Thames Barrier, London - UK
A decade ago
the predictions of extreme weather prompted by climate change seemed
remote both in the UK and Europe but the major floods of the last
3 years have provided powerful reminders of the costs and threats
that we are now facing. There is no doubt that major flood events
are now a tragic reality rather than hypothesis.
The aim of this meeting is to bring together UK and European experience
on the recent major flooding incidents, to share the knowledge that
has been gained and to develop an effective European Forum for these
The meeting is being organised by CMS.
15.05.03 : Beaches and Bathing Waters -
Implications for the Revision to the Bathing Water Directive, London
Over the past
three years the European Commission and Member States have undertaken
a number of studies and scientific reviews to develop a revised
proposal for a new Bathing Water Directive. The proposal was released
in October 2002 and is currently being considered by the European
Parliament and Commission.
The aim of this conference is to provide an opportunity to influence
the thinking on the Directive and inform a balanced assessment of
the benefits and pitfalls of the proposed approach. This should
enable a wide range of stakeholders to engage in and respond to
the revision process.
Organised by CMS - Coastal Management for Sustainability. The Programme
will be available in late February. For details contact firstname.lastname@example.org
19.02.03: Announcement: INTERNATIONAL DAY
OF ACTION AGAINST DAMS
AND FOR RIVERS, WATER AND LIFE MARCH 14th, 2003
The 6th Annual
International Day of Action Against Dams and for Rivers,
Water and Life on March 14th, 2003 is approaching fast. We urge
participate. This is a time to act in solidarity to celebrate our
protest destructive development, and enjoy the successes of last
Join the movement for healthy rivers and communities by planning
an event or
attending an action near you. From campaigning for thriving fisheries
clean water to taking down bad dams, we continue to push our causes
Join us on March 14th to show the world that we are standing together
fight for living rivers and the rights of communities over their
WHAT YOU CAN
DO (AND HOW WE CAN HELP !
Go to Background
Information and actions
contact worldwide: email@example.com
: Announcement 1st
People World Water Forum ( 21./22. March, Florence),
engl, français, ital, port, span.)