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European Rivers Networ

WCD Final Report
NGO's reactions (Feb - March 2001)


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Contents :

Berne Declaration position

Third WCD Forum Meeting, Spier/Cape Town, 25-27 February, 2001

Statement of Peter Bosshard

Four years ago, I had the chance to attend the Gland seminar which resulted in the creation of the World Commission on Dams. I must admit that like NGO colleagues, I had some doubts about whether we should accept the invitation to attend the seminar. It was not that we were opposed to a dialogue with the dam industry. Rather, we were sceptical if the World Bank and the dam industry would feel committed to the outcome if a new consensus on large dams was reached, and we did not want to become part of a mere alibi process.

As it turned out, Gland was the start of an extremely interesting process the start of the first joint effort which involved the World Bank, other funders, governments, the dam industry, academics, NGOs, and movements of dam-affected people. Contrary to what an earlier speaker has said, NGOs always wanted ICOLD to be part of the process and the industry association certainly was.

Dam conflicts continue to exist, and throughout the WCD process, a lot of mutual mistrust persisted. "I still think that, if the Commission were to come out with an objective report (?), these fundamentalists will reject it as well!", our friend Theo Van Robbroeck said at ICOLD's annual meeting in 1999. Mind you, ICOLD's honorary chairman was not referring to the industry associations, but to the NGOs.

Indeed, NGOs and movements had many problems with the WCD process, and to some extent with the final report: The preparation of the report was strongly influenced by industry consultants. NGOs and popular movements often found it difficult to make their voices heard, and in some cases such as the Tarbela case study the consultants reviewed the performance of their own projects and companies. And like industry, the NGOs would have preferred that the WCD could have reviewed current practices with ongoing projects. Yet the Commission was prevented from looking at the controversial dam projects on the Yangtze, Narmada and Euphrates rivers prevented by the very governments which are now the shrillest critics of the WCD's report.

In spite of many problems, the NGOs remained involved in the WCD process. Like many other groups, the Berne Declaration welcomes the WCD report as the most independent and comprehensive evaluation of large dams to date. I should add that I have great personal respect for all the Commissioners who came from very different backgrounds and still managed to prepare a consensus report. Like Jean-Etienne Klimpt from Hydro-Qu?bec, I believe that the Core Values and the Guidelines of the WCD report could be extended from water and energy planning and dams to other sectors as well.

Still, the fundamentalist faction to which Theo Van Robbroeck referred in 1999 exists. It is not the NGOs, but some representatives of industry associations and governments who have rejected the WCD report outright. Patrick McCully has summarized their reactions.

More importantly, we have also seen many constructive and encouraging responses from national dam industry associations (such as those from Britain and the Netherlands), international organizations (such as the African Development Bank, UNEP and the WHO), export credit agencies (such as those in the US, France or Norway), and bilateral donors (such as DFID or BMZ). Here we have an emerging coalition for the implementation of the WCD report. Like the International Rivers Network (IRN) or the Cordillera Peoples' Alliance (CPA), the Berne Declaration is interested in being part of a structured follow-up process. I believe that the proposal which GTZ has commissioned provides a good starting point for the discussion of such a process a process, I should add, which may of course not go back behind or put in doubt the consensus reached in the WCD report.

Like Himanshu Thakkar, I must express my surprise about the position which the World Bank has so far chosen to take. Officially, we have heard that the Bank is still consulting its member governments and has not taken a final position on the WCD report. Unofficially, we hear from many sources that Bank representatives are busy lobbying behind the scenes against the new report. I find these activities totally inappropriate and unacceptable, and certainly incompatible with the role of an "honest broker" which John Briscoe has quoted from the "Financial Times". Like other NGOs, I believe that through its behaviour, the Bank has disqualified itself from co-ordinating a follow-up process to the WCD as suggested by the Industry Group.

If the World Bank does not reconsider its position vis-a-vis the WCD report, it will run into problems which go beyond large dams and the water and energy sectors. Throughout the Commission's life, the Bank has applauded the WCD process as an example for a multi-stakeholder dialogue which sets the model for the future. It has been one of the main stakeholders in the process, and has had plenty of opportunities to make inputs into the debate. If it does now not feel committed to implementing the recommendations of the Commission, many NGOs will not be interested in engaging in other dialogues with the Bank in the future. In this sense, the WCD report, and the responses to it, are a test-case for the future of the multi-stakeholder approach.

Whatever the World Bank decides to do, we already have an impressive coalition for the implementation of the WCD report. I call on all actors to adopt the Commission's Guidelines, and to engage in a structured follow-up process. Such a process can provide a forum for debate and for planning specific steps for the implementation of the WCD Guidelines. At the same time, a follow-up process may obviously not put the consensus of the most thorough and comprehensive evaluation of large dams in question. We call on all actors to take the main lesson of the WCD report to heart the experience, as Joan Carling of the CPA has put it, that "there are no shortcuts to sound and equitable development processes and projects".

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International Rivers Network position

Presentation at WCD Forum Plenary, Spier Winery, Cape Town, South Africa

February 25, 2001

While IRN does not agree with all the contents of the WCD report we welcome it as a major contribution to the debate on dams and to the management of water and energy resources in general. We believe that its recommendations should be implemented by all funders and builders of dams as the minimum criteria necessary before any projects can go ahead.

There has been some confusion regarding the call IRN and our colleagues have made for a moratorium on all dam building until the WCD's recommendations have been adopted. Some have said that we are misrepresenting the WCD's report and calling for an end to all dam building. But a moratorium is by definition conditional. We are not saying end all dam building, but we are saying that now international guidelines for dam building have been proposed that there should be no more dams built unless these guidelines are followed. This is surely only logical and represents a significant concession by anti-dam groups.

IRN welcomes the response to the WCD report from some elements in the dam industry, especially the announcement by Swedish construction company Skanska that they will follow the WCD's recommendations. We also welcome the positive statements on the WCD made by the African and Asian development banks, the US Export-Import Bank and some governments, including those of the UK and Germany. While we are keen to participate in the various multistakeholder processes proposed to discuss how to incorporate the WCD's recommendations into policies at the national and other levels, we also must stress that these must not turn into endless talking shops with little impact on the real world of dam building.

While some industry and government responses have been positive, others have been marked by denial and paranoia. Turkey's General Directorate of State Hydraulic Works have alleged that 'the leading agencies and investors in the sectors of nuclear energy and thermal energy . . . must have influenced the preparation process of the report'. They also insinuated that the WCD was a conspiracy by developed countries who after completing the development of their own water resources are trying to impede progress elsewhere. The Deputy Chairman of Russia's National Commission on Large Dams lambasted the WCD report for having an 'aggressive and offensive format' (did he have a problem with the WCD's lay-out designers?) and repeated the accusation that the WCD was a grand rich-world plot: 'the gentlemen [this ignoring that 4 of the commissioners were women] from WCD . . . are driven not by the care about the native and poor people in Africa or Russia but by the desire to keep the great and well-off countries great and prosperous as long as possible while native tribes should remain in the pristine state'.

The accusation that the WCD was mainly funded by the nuclear and thermal industries is farcical. Anyone can read the list of funders and see who funded the WCD - and that the funders included many of the world's biggest dam construction and engineering companies. The belief that it is an evil First World plot is a little hard to square with the fact that the Chair, Vice-Chair and three other Commissioners came from the South.

My favourite stupid comment on the WCD report comes from Yogendra Prasad, Chairman and Managing Director of India's National Hydroelectric Power Corporation. This eminent gentleman announced that 'Serious doubts arise about credentials and suitability of' the Commissioners who are 'well known to be eristic, acerbic, insouciant and inveterate.' We could play an interesting game and try and guess which adjective applies to which Commissioner. Eristic? Kader Asmal? Lakshmi Jain? (Actually, I'm not sure what it means so I'm sort of taking stabs in the dark). Acerbic? Jose Goldemberg? Insouciant? Judy Henderson? Inveterate (did he mean to say Invertebrate?)? Jan Veltrop?

There is a serious side to this nonsense. This intolerance and irrationality is what communities and activists who question dams are up against on a regular basis.

Some welcome comments on the report have come from the International Hydropower Association, a body that IRN is not used to agreeing with. The IHA says in their response that the WCD 'rightly exposes the plight of the disinherited; those who suffered and were not compensated for their lands, or livelihoods'. We commend the IHA for recognizing the harm caused by dams. And we commend them for stating that 'major past grievances must be addressed through dialogue and negotiation between governments, dam owners and operators and affected parties based on scientific studies and equity principles.'

It is also important that the IHA is in 'basic agreement' on the principles proposed under the WCD's strategic priorities.

The IHA says that 'As an organization committed to promoting the highest standards for the planning and implementation of future projects' they are 'ready to participate with the World Bank in developing realistic guidelines.' We support this goal and are also ready to participate with the World Bank in developing guidelines which are realistic and which incorporate the WCD's recommendations.

There are of course many areas where we disagree with the IHA. One of the key ones is in their assertion that many of the problems with dams are in the past and that things are better now. The IHA and others have criticized the WCD for not recognizing how much things have improved - yet the most recent of the WCD's eight detailed case studies was the Pak Mun Dam in Thailand, completed in 1994, and it was also one of the worst performers in social, environmental, technical and economic terms.

The assertion that the dam industry has cleaned up its house is a fiction. Look at the real world and you see projects that are as bad as anything built in the past: Sardar Sarovar and Maheshwar dams on the Narmada in India, Three Gorges in China, Ilisu in Turkey, and Sondu Miriu in Kenya. These disastrous projects, rife with human rights abuses and other problems, are the reality of the current practices of the dam industry. If the IHA and others are serious about being wanting to be accepted as socially and environmentally responsible organizations they should disown these projects.

If the industry does disown these projects and others like them, IRN and our colleagues will be willing to work with them to promote sustainable and equitable methods of meeting the needs of the world's people for water and energy.

Thank you.

Patrick McCully Campaigns Director International Rivers Network Berkeley, CA 94707 USA

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In March, 1997 in Curitiba, representatives of more than 20 countries met in the First International Meeting of Dam-Affected People. The delegates emphasized the need for the formation of an independent commission to evaluate dams constructed to-date. One month later, the Brazilian Movement of Dam-Affected People (MAB) was invited by IUCN and the World Bank to participate in a meeting at Gland, where the proposal was formulated for what eventually turned out to be the World Commission on Dams (WCD), an independent commission with the participation of people of different sectors (movements, NGOs, governments, industries, multilateral institutions).

From the first steps taken by the Commission, MAB expressed its concern with the fragility of the presence of the Latin American experience, particularly in terms of those academic and non-governmental sectors who would be capable of enriching the Commission's work with lessons learned by dam-affected people of the continent in their struggle for social, economic, political, and environmental rights. We also emphasized to the President of the Commission the importance of the ability of dam-affected people, particularly those who cannot understand English, in being able to accompany and to contribute to the work of the Commission.

These limitations were not overcome, and this has had serious costs. Equally problematic was the fact that one of the members of the WCD Secretariat, responsible for the Tucuruí case study and for the São Paulo Latin American Regional Consultation carried out her work in a manner which demonstrated her absolute commitment to support the interests and opinions of the government, multilateral agencies, and dam-building companies. Equally limiting was the fact that Professor José Goldemberg (the only Latin American member of the WCD) has taken no initiative to inform and engage civil society in the discussion process.

Despite these problems, MAB has made every effort to disseminate the work of the Commission and to increase its eventual impact. Within our possibilities, we took the debate to the Brazilian dam-affected people and worked to further involve NGOs and civil society. In an official meeting with representatives of the Mines and Energy Ministry, the Environment Ministry and the National Agency for Electrical Energy, MAB provided information about the work of the WCD and requested participation by the government in the WCD process. MAB achieved a hearing on large dams in the Commission in Defense of Consumers, the Environment, and Minorities of the Chamber of Deputies at which various testimonies denounced the ongoing problems caused by already-built dams as well as the authoritarian and technocratic nature of the 10-year Expansion Plan of the Energy Sector that has not been discussed with civil society nor with the National Congress.

MAB's commitment to the WCD process was also evident at the São Paulo Latin American Public Consultation, through the significant presence of dam-affected people from different parts of the country, particularly members of MOAB - the Movement of People Threatened by Dams in the Ribeira Valley - due to their proximity to São Paulo. Despite the obstacles created by the meeting's organizers impeding our entrance to the meeting hall, the physical presence of dam-affected people in the hall meant that the members of the Commission, and its consultants and technical assistants were able to be made more sensitive to the reality of dam-affected people -- rather than their remaining mere numerical abstractions and budget figures, the dam-affected became flesh and blood, men and women, the old, young, and children, lives, complaints and hopes. MAB expected to see these lives, and these complaints and hopes contemplated in the WCD's Final Report.

Throughout this process MAB was able to strengthen its ties of solidarity and cooperation with movements of dam-affected people from other countries as well as environmental and human rights NGOs committed to the struggle against the social and environmental destruction caused by large dams. Even though it was not always possible to bring the WCD debate to all the movements and communities which, in our country, are the raison d'étre of MAB, one thing became clear to us: that it is not only in our country, and not only in our continent that dams have been build against the interests of dam-affected populations.

Thus, our conviction became stronger that:

1. The struggle of dam-affected people around the world has played a fundamental role in raising public awareness of the serious problems caused by large dam projects, and has been the principal reason for the creation of the World Commission on Dams.

2. Dams do not achieve their promised objectives: they produce less energy than promised, supply less water and irrigate less land, and usually cost much more and take much longer to build. Furthermore, dams have not led to just or sustainable development, and instead have deepened misery and social and regional inequalities.

3. Environmental impact studies and reports have not been effective in predicting the consequences of dams because they tend to underestimate the negative effects of dams and exaggerate their potential benefits. The measures for mitigating and compensating for negative impacts have failed or have been insufficient.

4. Because of all these, dams are not a source of clean, non-polluting energy

5. There are viable alternatives with less social and environmental costs than large dams, for both production of energy and for the management of water. These alternatives can and should be studied and implemented.

6. The construction of dams serves the economic and political interests of dominant national and international groups, and of the dam and electrical industries, and this is the only reason they are promoted and built around the world.

Because of all these reasons, our conviction is equally stronger that MAB and other dam-affected people around the world are on the right path in trying to stop the construction of large dams and fight for the implementation of a new model of development, socially just and environmentally responsible.

In cases in which it's not possible to stop the construction of dams, MAB will fight determinedly so that:

7. No new dam be constructed without adequate access to information and prior consent of dam-affected peoples, without a process of deliberative participation being assured in all stages of the project and the right to collective negotiation being guaranteed.

8. The rights of indigenous and traditional populations (including the people of quilombos) to self-determination be recognized, as well as their rights to preserve their cultural heritage and territorial integrity;

9. A moratorium be declared on the financing and construction of new dams in those countries where fair compensation and reparations for those affected by already-constructed dams are not provided.

10. Companies, private or public, involved in the construction and operation of dams, in cooperation with local and central governments, must be held fully responsible for the social and environmental costs involved, as well as for associated development programs to improve the well-being of affected populations and to reduce social and regional inequalities.

In light of these principles, MAB positively evaluates the fact that the WCD's Final Report clearly indicates the failure of large dams in terms of promised objectives (be it energy production, water supply, irrigation or flood control), as well as confirms our denunciations about their unacceptable social and environmental impacts. However, we lament that the WCD has not had the audacity to go beyond the recognition of these problems, and has not taken the opportunity to identify and unmask the private interests, national and international, moving the dam industry around the world, particularly in the peripheral countries.

MAB positively evaluates that the WCD's Final Report has pointed to the necessity of seriously developing studies on alternatives, with the participation of dam-affected populations. We lament, however, that in many sections, the Report adopts an ambiguous language that may suggest the necessity to continue with the construction of these huge projects that have cost so much - in financial, social and environmental terms - to the peripheral countries.

MAB receives with satisfaction that the WCD recommends to governments, companies and multilateral agencies that no dam should be constructed without the full informed "public acceptance" of all stakeholders.

Finally, MAB laments that the WCD, though stating as necessary the reparation for losses and damages caused by dams already built, has not recommended a moratorium on the construction of dams until already existing problems are solved and already inflicted damages are repaired.

For all the reasons mentioned above, MAB manifests its firm decision to continue to struggle for its historical demands, in particular for the reparation of losses caused by dams already built. We equally demand from the multilateral institutions, from the Federal Government (through its Mines and Energy Ministry, National Water Agency, National Agency for Electrical Energy, Environment Ministry and the Brazilian Institute for Environmental Protection), from the National Congress and from State Governments (through their environmental agencies) the institutionalization (legal, when applicable) and the practical adoption of the WCD's recommendations and, above all, for the democratization of the decision making processes.

The era of large dams and its grievous social and environmental impacts has come to an end. The era of dams built against the will of dam-affected people has come to an end. Brazil needs to move forward to this era. No new dams should be built in Brazil without the "demonstrable public acceptance" of dam-affected people.

Water for Life, Not for Death !

São Paulo, February 9th, 2001. Brazilian Movement of Dam-Affected People - MAB

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Report on WCD Forum Meeting
South Africa, 23-28 Feb. 2001

Patrick McCully
5 March, 2001

WCDR = WCD Report
F&R = Findings and Recommendations
KB = WCD Knowledge Base
FLG = Forum Liaison Group (IRN, NBA, Harza, LHWP, WB, IUCN)
FU = WCD follow up activities
IG = Industry Group (Harza, EdF, H-Q, Voith-Siemens, Alstom)
IHA = Int'l Hydropower Association
ICID = Int'l Commission on Irrig & Drainage
MS = multistakeholder [sorry but this has become unavoidable]


At the ICDRP pre-Forum meeting we developed goals for the Forum. These were:
1) Forum should endorse a follow-up unit to promote dissemination and translation of the WCDR, ensure long-term access to KB, and facilitate national level WCD FU processes, WCD promotion by ex-commissioners, and possibly thematic working groups, eg on reparations. The unit should reconvene another Forum meeting in a year's time. The unit would be hosted by IUCN and accountable to the 'Forum Liaison Group' or similar structure.
2) We should drive a wedge between 'realo' and 'fundi' parts of the industry and make the fundamentalists look ridiculous and obsolete.
3) WB response should be made to look inadequate and reactionary and out of sync with other institutional reactions.
4) WCDR should be endorsed as a basis for moving forward on water & energy planning. There should be no rewriting/reinterpretation of report as called for by industry.

Results of the Forum were:
1) A 'Dams and Development Unit' will be established along lines we had wanted except host organization will most likely be UNEP conditional on their agreement not to interfere with DDU management. The WCD Forum will cease to exist but will form the basis for a new 'Dams & Development Forum' to meet in a year's time. The governance body of the DDU will be the Forum Liaison Group plus UNEP.
2) The 'fundamentalists' were isolated and their rejectionist position was largely ignored. (The most fundi of the fundis did not attend - eg India, China, Turkey. The most fundi present included ICOLD, IHA (now wavering in their fundiness) and ICID). Industry started the meeting with the fundis saying report should be rejected and the realos (led by Industry Group) that it should be rewritten. Yet at the end of the meeting all either supported or did not oppose promotion of the report - even though all of them believe that it will make dams much harder to build.
3) Almost everyone, NGOs, bilaterals, other MDBs, WCD staff and commissioners, industry etc. was annoyed by WB (or at least by John Briscoe, their Senior Water Advisor). Unclear what this means in practice, partly due to rhino-thick skin of Briscoe, but should mean more pressure on Bank to adopt report. NGOs at Forum will write to Wolfensohn expressing displeasure.
4) Report was widely endorsed and commitments made to various follow up processes. It was agreed that WCDR and KB cannot be altered, although industry pressure will mean that there will likely be effort by secretariat/commissioners to emphasise that the 26 'guidelines for best practice' in WCDR are 'guidelines' rather than 'regulations'.

At a post-Forum meeting we agreed that our goals were largely achieved. Main concern is how to ensure ICDRP representatives are able to influence FLG+UNEP to necessary extent given their other commitments. Some felt disappointment at lack of strong commitments from industry, donors, and governments.

I strongly believe from the Forum that we are succeeding in shifting the terms of the debate. Our criticisms of dams on environmental, social - and economic and performance - grounds are now almost the mainstream position, at least as far as past dams go. Our positions on the benefits of DSM and supply alternatives are also broadly accepted, although the mainstream position is still that small-scale technologies will in many cases have to be supplemented with big supply projects including dams. It is widely accepted that decline in dam building will and should continue. The IG and IHA are sticking by calls for subsidies on GHG emission mitigation grounds, but the calls are less shrill and increasingly include a recognition of the high emissions from shallow tropical reservoirs and the need for more research. Industry and donors also argue that implementation of projects is getting much better.

Within the NGOs, our positions are now very much the mainstream - WWF is now calling for a moratorium on all dam building within the OECD, total moratorium on 'megadams' and the most destructive 'megadams' to be decommissioned. IG, IHA and donors agree on need for some form of reparations and measures to reduce damage of existing dams.

The WCDR is taking on a life of its own and spurring lots of interest around the world and various initiatives at the national and other levels (eg Nepali national workshop, discussions within Korean govt.). In brief, we're winning, and well placed to continue doing so.


Forum Liaison Group: This decided the Forum agenda and proposed the final conclusions of the meeting to the plenary. The members were myself, Himanshu (standing in for Shripad who was unable to come for visa reasons); Ger Bergkamp (IUCN), John Briscoe (WB), Chix Mochebelele (LHWP) and Refaat Abdel-Malek (Chairman and CEO of Harza). Various secretariat staff also took part in the meetings, most prominently Achim and Jamie Skinner.

Most of the stuff dealt with was procedural apart from developing the final proposals. The main controversial issue to deal with was that Bert Oud of Lahmeyer/NTEC/WCD wanted to make a presentation on NT2 and the WCD guidelines. We were worried that this would be used as pro-NT2 propaganda, could be manipulated to say that Forum endorsed NT2, and because there was nobody to reply. There was also to be a presentation comparing WCD guidelines with process on the proposed Skuifram water supply dam near Cape Town by the head of the Dept. of Water and Forestry (an asshole). The Skuifram Action Group are pushing for a participatory review of the project against the WCDR and wanted to use the DWAF presentation as an opportunity to reply and put forward their position. We worked out a compromise whereby the two Skuifram presentations were made in an official plenary but the NT2 presentation was an informal talk at the end of the day, along with a presentation from WRI on their evaluation. I missed the talk because of needing to be in a Liaison Group Meeting but I have the overheads. Bert says that NT2 is 87-90% compliant with WCD.

These presentations put us in a difficult position. Bert strongly believes in WCD and wants to show to the industry that contrary to what WB and others are saying the guidelines are doable. He is also an NT2 fanatic. We also want industry to believe that the guidelines are doable as otherwise no one will adopt them, but we don't want to promote individual projects. Bert also gave his presentation at the ADB WCD workshop in Manila (see below). Apparently the Lao govt. guy present said that if they had do as many studies etc. for other dams as they had to for NT2 they would never build another dam. The only other dam that was obviously promoted as WCD compatible was Bujagali -Christian Wright from AES put out p/copies of a short paper from AES's PR dept. claiming that Bujagali met WCD strategic priorities.


The Forum opened with an Asmal speech which was largely a response to the criticisms from industry and Southern governments, arguing that Commission was not anti-dam, anti-development, or anti-South, did not say that anyone had a veto, and did not call for a moratorium. He also said that the 26 'guidelines' were 'not prescriptions or rules' but 'political imperatives' which should be followed 'to remove aggression and hassle'. They were based on current best practices and therefore could be followed. Everyone should be better off after a project and LHWP shows that this can be done (!!!)

There then followed nearly 30 short responses to the report from Forum members, starting off with Töpfer, the head of UNEP. Töpfer is a big fan of the WCD and committed to disseminating the report within the UN and to using it in UNEP's own work and promoting it within multilateral enviro agreements.

Briscoe gave a 'progress report' from the Bank. Not much new in it. There is a Bank-wide task force studying the report from top to bottom. WB has distributed 1000 copies. He and Stephen Lintner, head of the Compliance Unit had been on a world tour to get reactions from borrower governments - Brazil, Thailand, Ethiopia, Laos, Sri Lanka, Jordan and China (presumably it was all water and power ministries) (Himanshu later pointed out in his response how ridiculous it was that these were the people the Bank went to for feedback, and that they didn't meet with a single NGO). Not surprisingly, this lot didn't have strong anti-dam opinions. They also attended the ADB workshop in Manila. The 'main messages' from borrowers were
1) 'dams are essential for econ growth and poverty reduction'
- universal acceptance of importance of enviro impacts and that they are getting better at dealing with them
- strong commitment to learn and improve
- engagement of WB has made a difference to their practices
- great concern about exit of WB from dam building and 'wide resonance' with FT editorial saying that donors should support nice, friendly, caring dams.
- Broad acceptance of core values and strategic priorities in the report
- 'universal concern' about the 26 guidelines should not have to be complied with. Strong agreement there should be no new conditionalities.

WB process is not complete but it is unlikely there'll be new laws or conditionalities.

How WB 'plans to build on' WCDR
- 'use it as a valuable reference to inform its decision-making process when considering projects that involve dams'
- 'support strategic planning processes by Borrowers to evaluate options and alternatives'
- will not adopt 26 guidelines but will 'review how the principles of these guidelines may be put into individual use in the context of specific projects' (?!).
- 'will undertake measures in the form of a Preliminary Action Plan to strengthen its own work in the water and energy sectors and to improve the evaluation, implementation and operation of dams when they are the appropriate development option'
- will 'consider the findings' of the WCDR in forthcoming Water Resources Sector Strategy

Briscoe is agitating against the report on grounds of 'unworkability' and annoying everybody - even AfDB and ADB, who he has apparently scolded for being too pro-WCDR. Lintner is hard to read (looks like a cross between Santa Claus and Ernest Hemingway). I didn't get to talk with him.

Of the other presentations, ICOLD (Theo von Robbroeck), ICID, Ebro River basin authority (Spain) and Nepal Electricity Authority, called for the report to be rejected or at least rewritten. TvR described Peter and I as 'fundamentalist agitators' and gave an overview of history of WCD saying how big a mistake it was every time he allowed WCD to move forward and didn't stop it. 'We will not collaborate in any attempt to continue the Commission, we have learned our lesson'. 'Few projects will get off the ground, of any type' if F&R are followed. ICOLD will further study the report and will work with World Water Council on their response.

German and Swiss bilaterals gave generally positive presentations and committed themselves to MS processes and adopting the report.

The Industry Group (who had spent two days meeting and preparing their response) presented one after the other. O'Leary (Siemens), Abdel-Malek (Harza), Devernay (EdF), Klimpt (H-Q) and ?? (Alstom) presented. Their main thrust was:
- they share the core values and principles underlying the seven strategic priorities but decision-making process proposed is Utopian, cumbersome, bureaucratic etc. However support 'several key recommendations': 1) affected people should benefit and their rights be fully respected 2) 'negotiated solutions must prevail' 3) compliance has to be ensured 4) better balance has to be achieved between technical, econ, soc. and env issues.
- overall tone of WCDR is negative about dams and ignores positive aspects. Makes dams the 'last resort'. sample of dams is not representative; other projects also suffer overruns and delays; too little consideration for indirect benefits; underplays GHG and other air pollution benefits; social performance is improving
- guidelines and recommendations take decisions away from govts. and hinder their ability to implement 'direly needed' water projects
- Existing Dams: concur with WCD on import of this issue; IFIs should work with govts. to ensure money available; call for evaluations every 5-10 years too much - 30-35 years OK
- review of alternatives was too optimistic and failed to look at coal which will continue to be main alternative to hydro. Biggest hydro builders (India, China) also main coal users => hydro down, coal up. DSM is important but its too difficult to do. 'Only efficient conventional thermal and hydro can provide electricity needed in developing countries'.
- beneficiaries must be included in project negotiations; agree with FPIC although no one group should have veto right; public acceptance does not mean absolute consensus
- implementation of F&R will take considerable time and delay much needed projects
- requirement for basin-wide understanding of ecosystem functions etc. before dev decisions (in Strategic Priority on sustaining rivers and livelihoods) would be moratorium on all water-related development because will never have full ecological understanding [Good Point!! - We hadn't realised what a good requirement this was.]
- disagree with legalistic approach of multiple binding contracts, won't work in countries lacking strong legal system
- stakeholder forum OK but shouldn't have decision-making role
- land-for-land resett not always feasible
- rights and risk approach should be applied to all dev projs. - not just dams, problem is not technology but governance
- IG 'proposes to participate in a working group with other stakeholders under the auspices of the WB to develop operational recommendations integrating the good ideas contained in the WCD report.'
- IG will encourage implementation of an env management system 'coherent with ISO 14001'.

Preben Nielsen of ADB said that borrowers needed more time to figure out implications of report. More country level dissemination needed. ADB would work with WB, govts., commissioners, NGOs on national level workshops. Need to progress from existing practices. ADB's own studies have shown need for better baseline info eg on role of existing flow patterns on Mekong. Concern over reparations - should not apply present standards to the past but redress needed if original commitments not met.

Laffitte from IHA said report is useful but overall tone is negative about dams and does not recognize the imperative to build dams in developing countries. Recommendations often not realistic, not subjected to the test of experience and will cause 'sustainable underdevelopment' [A new - and meaningless - industry catchphrase]. IHA is available to help WB update their guidelines.

Wolter from FAO said India could not afford to let 70% of their water run to waste to the sea [!!!!!!], enviros had to ask themselves what was the consequence of halting dev projects, wanted more analysis in WCDR of benefits of irrig, but welcomes report as guideline for decision-making and would recommend that report be implemented. FAO working with Int. Water Management Inst. on dialogue on water for food and nature. Will bring F&R into this dialogue - may also be done at level of individual basins.

Bikash Pandey said WCD offers potential to heal damaging divide over dams in Nepal. Winrock Int'l hopes to be involved in project to show how F&R can be implemented.

Joan, Himanshu, Sadi, Peter, Argwings, David Ungulo and myself gave ICDRP presentations. We stressed that report was a minimum consensus and now should be implemented. Bashed some of the industry arguments eg complaint that projects reviewed were all old ones when govts. prevented commission looking at newer/ongoing ones (eg SSP, Ataturk, 3 Gorges). Sharply criticised WB response. Said we were committed to follow up and believed a coalition was emerging to do this. Stressed need for dissemination at grassroots and promotion of national level discussions. Should give priority to outstanding issues. Moratorium demand was logical follow on from WCDR. Was not an 'no dam' position and was a concession from us.

Argwings ended the session with a v. moving presentation. When he was told he had 1 minute left he said OK lets have a minute silence for dam victims. [Perfect ending!!!]


The following day was mostly working groups and plenaries discussing how to move forward. We successfully manoeuvered the meeting toward a consensus that there should be some sort of formal follow up focussed on dissemination but that there should be no rewriting/updating of report or KB. A paper on poss. FU mechanisms commissioned by the German govt. and written by Mark Halle of Int. Inst. for Sust. Dev. was a useful basis for discussions. There were however still substantial differences over the ToR of any follow up unit, how long it should last, where it should be housed, and its governance. By end of the day the FLG agreed that the 'sense of the meeting' was for a follow up unit to be governed by a small body based on the FLG.

That night however, Töpfer and the German and Dutch bilaterals conspired over dinner to get UNEP and the bilaterals to gain control over the follow up process and link it in to the 2nd World Water Forum in Tokyo in 2003. Negotiations/conspiracies continued until late into the night, the bilaterals arguing that they couldn't give money to any informal governance structure and so trying to blackmail the meeting into accepting UNEP control.


The FLG met early next morning and agreed that UNEP control and bilateral bullying was unacceptable. Everyone was concerned about getting sucked into UNEP bureaucracy and inter-governmental control. ICDRP was also concerned that we would lose our leverage if UNEP had control.

The bilaterals attempted to force thru their idea during the mornings working groups. The FLG heard reports back from final 4 working groups - where there was almost total disagreement about what to do - and then hammered out a final consensus proposal to put in front of the plenary.

The consensus proposal was along the lines of what we'd agreed the previous day, the main compromise to the UNEP proposal was that they could join the governance body and be the admin/fiduciary host but they could have no control over hiring/firing, management etc. No one, including UNEP and FAO people, knew of similar arrangements being worked out within the UN system but we thought we could make this a precedent. If it doesn't work with UNEP, the other institution which seemed to have most acceptance was IUCN. So the proposed governance body will be the Forum Liaison Group plus UNEP, conditional upon the latter agreeing to the non-control/interference conditions.

The 'Dams and Development Unit' would have c. 3 senior staff and would last for 2 years from July. It would be located in an undecided city in a developing country, probably one with a UNEP office, but not Nairobi. The existing secretariat, which has funding until July, will act as the secretariat for the Governance group (which we didn't give a name to). Staff from the secretariat will be encouraged to apply (Parasu and Jamie Skinner are interested). The WCD Forum will cease to exist but will form the basis for a new 'Dams & Development Forum to meet in February 2002. The secretariat will develop a funding proposal within 2 weeks and do the fundraising.

The ToRs for the Unit would be
- promote dissemination of the WCDR, including translations
- maintain the web site and establish permanent home(s) for the KB
- promote and facilitate national/regional level workshops and MS processes to discuss and promote WCD recommendations. Assist commissioner lobbying for the report.
- produce newsletters and annual report on WCD implementation, national processes etc.

Abdel-Malek presented the consensus proposal to the plenary and asked for responses. The FLG sat on the stage and answered questions. The Dutch guy complained that bilaterals weren't on the governance body. von Robbroeck said that although he had a mandate from ICOLD to reject any institutional follow up he would not do so (!?). The Swiss bilateral and ITDG thanked the FLG for brokering a compromise and welcomed the proposal. Then somebody clapped, all the NGOs and some others clapped vigorously and any opposition was thus silenced and our proposal accepted.

SA Water Minister Kasrils then addressed the meeting. Said SA now has policy to provide 25/litres/day free to each person. Dams in SA have provided lots of benefits but now need for new approach emphasising DSM and other supply options. Will listen to NGOs but they can't dictate govt. policy. Report is v. balanced and should be implemented. DWAF will not reopen decision on Skuifram dam but will review it with NGOs as they are demanding [what's the point?]. Will raise WCDR in the SADCC context. Will propose that report be put on Rio +10 agenda. Will take it up in var. S. African bilateral agreements eg with Nigeria, China, Algeria, Mexico, Cuba.

Briscoe then gave another presentation. The point of this was supposed to be that WB had been soundly criticised during the Forum and so they wanted to show that they were listened to critics and being constructive. But Briscoe's presentation appeared to be basically the same lot of waffle as his initial one.

Asmal closed with a speech noting that there was 'no going back to the old policies of the international development establishment' and then (somewhat bizarrely) ended with a quote from G.C. Marquez along the lines of 'let the poor be happy'.


- Whole report to be translated into Chinese. IUCN Costa Rica coordinating translation into Spanish. Likely to be Japanese translation.

- ICOLD AM in Dresden in September to have 1 day on WCD, including Asmal, Barbara Unmußig (WEED), Chinese govt., German development ministry.

- ABB and Skanska didn't come, don't know if they've dropped out of IG and Forum.

- Lindahl, Scudder, Deborah, Jain, Goldemberg, Blackmore did not attend Forum

- ADB WCD workshop in Manila: Blackmore and Judy attended ADB workshop on WCD. Almost all participants from govt. (ADB totally screwed up NGO invitations - Nielsen said because of incompetence rather than design). Chinese were aggressively hostile to the report. Nepal, Vietnam, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Pak, more polite but still v. anti-report. One of their claims is that they were never consulted - which is crap, especially since China was on the Commission. India is on the Forum but has refused to attend 2 out of 3 meetings etc. etc.

- Achim has been appointed Koch-Weser's successor as Sec-Gen of IUCN (!!!)

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