Third WCD Forum
Meeting, Spier/Cape Town, 25-27 February, 2001
Statement of Peter
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
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.
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.
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
to the top of the page
Rivers Network position
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'.
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
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
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
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.
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.
Campaigns Director International Rivers Network Berkeley, CA 94707
to the top of the page
BRAZILIAN MOVEMENT OF DAM-AFFECTED PEOPLE (MAB) AND THE WORLD COMMISSION
ON DAMS (WCD)
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,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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 !
February 9th, 2001. Brazilian Movement of Dam-Affected People - MAB
to the top of the page
on WCD Forum Meeting
South Africa, 23-28 Feb. 2001
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
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
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
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.
FINAL MEETING OF WCD FORUM, SPIER WINERY, 25-27 FEB
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.
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.
FORUM DAY 1
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
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,
- Broad acceptance of core values and strategic priorities in the
- '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
- 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
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
- 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'.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
FORUM DAY 2
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
FORUM DAY 3
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.
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.
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
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,
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'.
OTHER BITS AND PIECES
- 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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