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( Mar 15, 2002 - Apr 15, 2002) Let the World Bank know that you, as a taxpayer, do not want your public funds to support dam projects that are not environmentally sustainable or that compromise international human rights standards. Call on the World Bank to implement the recommendations of the World Commission on Dams to prevent the use of your funds for the financing of environmentally and socially destructive dam projects. Read on for more information and then go to to sign the letter.

A Joint Call to Action From Environmental Defense and International Rivers Network

Large hydropower projects often do more than generate power or provide irrigation water. In fact, over the past century, the construction and operation of large dams has forced 40-80 million people from their homes and lands, depleted fisheries, destroyed aquatic life and habitat, and benefited mainly better-off segments of the population while leaving the poor to bear the economic, social, and environmental costs. These were the findings of the World Commission on Dams (WCD), an independent, multi-stakeholder review that was launched by the World Bank and the World Conservation Union (IUCN) in 1997.

The WCD examined the results of the world's 45,000 large dams in an unprecedented series of public hearings with affected peoples, government and industry representatives and members of the scientific community, and a massive research effort that culminated in the report, Dams and Development: A New Framework for Decision-Making.

The report proposes "a new framework for decision-making that moves beyond simple cost-benefit trade-offs to introduce an inclusive 'rights and risks approach' which recognizes all legitimate stakeholders in negotiating development choices." Most importantly, the report identifies specific procedures and clear criteria for equitable, efficient, participatory and sustainable water resource development, which, if followed, could solve many of the ongoing problems associated with existing dams, avoid past mistakes in future dams, and promote a broader array of water and energy choices.

The recommendations of the final report have been endorsed by non-governmental organizations, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. Export-Import Bank, as well as by private sector companies such as the Swedish construction firm, Skanska. However, the World Bank, one of the two original sponsors of the WCD, has refused to incorporate the recommendations into its policies, committing only to use them as a "reference point" on a case-by-case basis for its financing of dam projects. Please email Mr. James Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank, to urge him to implement the WCD's recommendations as binding World Bank policy. Go to to sign the letter and take action.

28.03. 02 e: Today on the german - french TV Channel "ARTE":
Waterwar in Spain , 8.15 pm GMT+1
by : Thomas Chatel et Gernot Steinweg (Allemagne, 2002-26mn) Coproduction : ARTE G.E.I.E. / Picture Pan ARTE G.E.I.E.
A film on the highly controversial Spanish National Hydroelectric Plan (NHP) plans the building of 120 new dams as well as huge transfers from the Ebro river to the south-east of Spain and from the Rhône river to Barcelona. Since it is contrary to sustainable development objectives, all environmental and other NGOs, as well as numerous academics, scientists, unions and political parties are trying to stop this project..... for more information on the National Hydro Plan see ERNs Webpage:

28.03.02 f : Ce soir le 28 mars, 20.15 sur ARTE: ESPAGNE : LA GUERRE DE L'EAU
L'Espagne projette de détourner les flots de l'èbre au bénéfice des régions du sud du pays. Réalisation : Thomas Chatel et Gernot Steinweg, 26min) Coproduction : ARTE G.E.I.E. / Picture Pan ARTE G.E.I.E.
Enquête sur une "bataille de l'eau" au sein d'un pays membre de l'Union européenne. Selon les experts, la question de l'eau a toutes les chances d'être au cœur de conflits majeurs au cours des prochaines décennies. En Espagne, la bataille de l'eau a déjà commencé. Depuis des millénaires, l'èbre fait la richesse des régions du Nord, notamment de l'Aragon et de la Catalogne. Un vaste projet des autorités espagnoles prévoit de "détourner" le fleuve au profit des provinces du sud du pays. Le projet suppose d'édifier plus de 120 retenues d'eau le long des Pyrénées et de dériver les flots sur plus d'un millier de kilomètres vers le sud de l'Espagne. Il se heurte à l'opposition des provinces du Nord : pour elles, le projet signifie la destruction de plusieurs villages, et surtout risque de mettre en danger l'économie locale, l'agriculture et l'élevage. Pour le moment, les travaux sont suspendus à la décision de l'Union européenne de les financer ou pas. Or, l'Espagne préside, depuis le 1er janvier, le Conseil de l'UE... plus d'infos sur le Plan hydro nationa de l'Espagne: . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . .

28.03.02 d : Heute abend 28. März, 20.15 auf ARTE: Wasserkrieg in Spanien
Spanien, Reportage von Thomas Chatel und Gernot Steinweg , 26 min Coproduction : ARTE G.E.I.E. / Picture Pan ARTE G.E.I.E. Mit der Großdemonstration in Barcelona am 10.März hat der spanische "Wasserkrieg" seinen vorläufigen Höhepunkt erreicht. Während der spanischen EU-Ratspräsidentschaft gingen Tausende Anhänger der "Bürgerinitiative zum Schutz des Ebro" auf die Straße. Von der EU verlangte die aufgebrachte Menge, den Wasserverteilungsplan der spanischen Regierung nicht länger finanziell zu fördern. Mit Subventionen aus den Kassen der Brüsseler Kommission sollen in Spanien 120 neue Stauseen und eine tausend Kilometer lange Ableitung des Ebrowassers an die Gestade des Mittelmeers gebaut werden. Dieser Plan stützt sich auf die Lobby der Tourismusbranche und der auf den Export orientierten Landwirtschaft in den Wasserempfängergebieten. Das Staudammprojekt in den Pyrenäen bedroht fruchtbare Talböden, die Bauern und Viehzüchter sehen ihre Dörfer und ihr Kulturerbe in akuter Gefahr. Der Bürgermeister des vom Yessa-Staudamm bedrohten Dorfes Artieda sagt: " Gerade wurde mit EU-Geldern unsere Region entwickelt, jetzt soll sie mit EU-Mitteln zerstört werden." Die Befürworter des Wasserverteilungsplans erwarten, dass der Ackerbau auf neue, bisher ungeeignete Gebiete ausgeweitet werden kann, mögliche Umweltschäden wie die Versalzung von gesundem Steppenland nehmen sie in Kauf. Aber im spanischen Norden will keine der Protestgruppen akzeptieren, dass ihre Heimat für die Wasserverschwendung des Südens geopfert wird. mehr Infos zum spanischen Nationalen Hydro Projekt (engl. franz. ):


22.03.02 : World Water Day, Message of Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General, on the occasion of World Day for Water 2002

World's Water problems can be "catalyst for cooperation" UN Headquarters, New York, 26 February,

"The theme of this year's observance of World Day for Water - 'Water for Development' - reflects the fundamental place of water in sustaining life and conserving the environment. "An estimated 1.1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water, 2.5 billion people have no access to proper sanitation, and more than 5 million people die each year from water-related diseases -- 10 times the number killed in wars, on average, each year. All too often, water is treated as an infinite free good. Yet even where supplies are sufficient or plentiful, they are increasingly at risk from pollution and rising demand.
By 2025, two thirds of the world's population is likely to live in countries with moderate or severe water shortages. Fierce national competition over water resources has prompted fears that water issues contain the seeds of violent conflict. "But the water problems facing our world need not be only a cause of tension; they can also be a catalyst for cooperation. Two thirds of the world's major rivers are shared by several States.
More than 300 rivers cross national boundaries. Increasingly, countries with expertise in the management of watersheds and flood-plains, or with experience in efficient irrigation, are sharing that knowledge and technology with others. Scientists from many nations and disciplines are pooling their efforts, to assess the threat and in the hopes of bringing about a much-needed "blue revolution" in agricultural productivity.
The organizations of the United Nations system, for their part, in addition to a vast array of operational projects are also preparing the first edition of the World Water Development Report. "Later this year, heads of State and government, non-overnmental organizations, private sector representatives and many others will gather in Johannesburg for the World Summit on Sustainable Development.
The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed next year the 'International Year of Freshwater'. Everyone has a stake in seizing these opportunities to chart a decisive course of action for meeting the Millennium Development Goals on access to freshwater. If we work together, a secure and sustainable water future can be ours."

- World Water Day Website

- actions

14.03.02 : On March 14th, river activists from around the world unite for the International Day of Action Against Dams and for Rivers, Water and Life.

The day was announced by the participants of the First International Meeting of People Affected by Dams held in Curitiba, Brazil in 1997. March 14th is the Brazilian Day of Struggles Against Dams. More than 47 actions in 23 countries are taking place on this International Day of Action!
- Background Informations are available on ERNs Website for living Rivers
- ERNs Pressrelease, format pdf, in french, soon in english
- See some of the exciting 2002 Day of Action Events:

14.03.02 : 14 MARS, JOURNEE INTERNATIONALE D'ACTION CONTRE LES BARRAGES ET POUR LES RIVIERES, L'EAU ET LA VIE : l'époque des grands barrages est révolue !

Pour la 5ème fois, cette journée mondiale d'action contre les barrages et pour les rivières, l'eau et la vie est célébrée sur tous les continents. La journée a trois objectifs principaux : célébrer l'importance des rivières dans le cycle de vie ; sensibiliser l'opinion sur la nécessité de leur protection et protester contre leur destruction.
Cette Journée Internationale d'Action a été lancée en 1997 lors de la Conférence internationale des Personnes affectées par les Barrages qui s'est tenue à Curitiba au Brésil 1 . Les cofondateurs sont International Rivers Network (IRN), European Rivers Network (ERN), Mouvement brésilien contre les barrages (MAB), India's Save the Narmada Movement (NBA), Chile's Biobío Action Group (GABB).
Chaque année à l'occasion de cette journée, de nombreuses actions ont lieu sur tous les continents.

- Background Informations en anglais sur ERNs Website pour des rivières vivnatess
- Com. de presse de ERN-SOS LOIRE VIVANTE et du WWF FRnace, format pdf, en français
- Actions 2002

10.03.02 : Barcelona: 400-500'000 against the spanish National Hydrological Plan

Sunday 10th of March 2002, called by NGOs, members of " La Plataforma en defensa de l'Elbre"; academics ; political parties and unions demonstrated in Barcelona against the NHP (Watertransfer, 118 dams). Between 400.000 and 500.000 participants and Delegations from different areas of Spain were in Barcelona to voice their disagreement. This demonstration was planned right before the 14th of March : worldwide day against dams and the 15 th & 16th March : the European Summit of the 15 EU environmental ministers in Barcelona.
A delegation of ERN (European Rivers Network) visited with green Euro-Deputys and the Leaders of the "Plataforma" (Organizers) the Ebro Delta, participated at the demonstration and was very warmly welcomed. More information, News, Documents, Links, Photos and more on the Spanish National Hydrological Plan. are available on our Website for living Rivers !

More information, News, Documents, Links, Photos and more on the
Spanish National Hydrological Plan. are available on our Website for living Rivers !


Disease-causing microbes can effectively be eliminated from recycled water by storing it underground, new research by CSIRO scientists has found. Promising research findings into natural ways to cleanse polluted water have brought Australia a step closer to a revolution in water reclamation ­ the “underground dam”. Researchers at CSIRO Land and Water have for several years been investigating the feasibility of diverting urban stormwater and treated effluent into underground aquifers, where it can be recycled for use on parks, gardens, ovals and farms. The idea is to harvest surplus water during the wet part of the year, store it underground for some months, then bring it to the surface again for irrigation during the dry season. Researchers consider these underground dams offer a uniquely Australian solution to the problems of water storage, water conservation and recycling. The water will be injected into appropriate aquifers, where it is protected from evaporation or pollution ­ and does not submerge valuable land or habitat, as does a surface dam. Now, microbiologist Dr Simon Toze has produced the clear evidence that storing water underground also purges it of disease-causing organisms, making it clean enough to recycle as irrigation. “We’ve been studying the behaviour and fate of various microbes in groundwater taken from different parts of the country,” he explains. “We’ve looked at enteric (gut) viruses, the protozoan Cryptosporidium, and disease-causing bacteria like Salmonella and Aeromonas. “If we are to store large volumes of water underground for recycling, we need to know exactly what happens with these bugs, and whether they can survive in reclaimed water.” Once underground, the disease-causing organisms face a hostile array conditions such as temperature changes, lack of oxygen, lack of nutrients and a whole army of naturally occurring groundwater microorganisms that kill or inactivate them. In experiments undertaken in aquifers and under controlled conditions in the laboratory simulating conditions of an underground aquifer, results have shown that the disease-causing microbes can last less than one month, he has found. “This makes underground storage one of the most promising ways to cleanse and recycle water. “Australia is naturally a dry continent, and in many areas our groundwater resources are being heavily exploited. This appears to offer a safe, clean way to recharge them. “We also need to think about our environment, and the importance to natural streams and wetlands of maintaining adequate subsurface water supplies.” Dr Toze has tested the antiviral activity of indigenous microbes in groundwater taken from South Australia, the Northern Territory, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia. In every case the large numbers of virus added to the water disappeared in less than six weeks. “Since water injected into an aquifer is likely to remain underground for several months before being re-used for irrigation, it looks as if there will be a comfortable safety margin.” Dr Toze says that, for many of Australia’s more arid towns and cities, reclaiming water will soon be an essential practice. “At present people still describe this as “waste water” ­ but that is a bad term, and it shows how limited our thinking still is towards water. Instead, Australians need to focus on the productive uses of reclaimed water. “This sort of water is not intended for drinking, but for the irrigation of parks, gardens, farms, ovals and street verges. “I believe that in pioneering this sort of water re-use, Australia is showing the world a lead in a field that will be increasingly vital to the human and environmental future,” Dr Toze says.

source: European Water Management News

08.03.02 : Spanish water transfer plan "finalised"

Environment Daily 1174, 08/03/02
The planned course of the water transfer canal at the heart of the Spain's controversial national hydrological plan has been changed "to minimise its environmental impact", environment minister Jaume Matas announced yesterday. The canal from northern to south-eastern Spain is to be shortened to 912 km. And by building more tunnels and making use of existing infrastructure the new route will reduce the number of incursions into Natura 2000 nominated sites from 18 in the initial plan to four, according to the minister (ED 06/09/00 Mr Matas expressed confidence that what he described as the definitive route will help to overcome environmental objections to the transfer plan. These have been debated in the European parliament and have prompted some MEPs to call for EU funds to be withheld. The government hopes the EU will contribute 30% of the estimated euros 4.2bn budget, unchanged from the original plan. Opposition socialist party (PSOE) environment spokeswoman Cristina Narbona told Environment Daily she believed the government was "deliberately underestimating the total cost of the scheme, which under the water framework directive will have to be passed on to the consumer". She added that the minister was wrong to describe the route as definitive "before environmental impact assessments have been carried out". She also criticised the water transfer project as "unsustainable in principle", claiming that "it is already fuelling a speculative building boom on remaining virgin areas of the south-eastern coastline".
Follow-up: Spanish environment ministry, tel: +34 91 597 6000;
PSOE, tel: +34 91 582 0444.

more information, News, Documents, Links, Photos and more on the
Spanish National Hydrological Plan. are available on our Website for living Rivers !



By Frederick Noronha NEW DELHI, India, March 7, 2002 (ENS) - Indian author Arundhati Roy was sent to a New Delhi jail by the Indian Supreme Court Wednesday to serve a sentence of one day, after being found guilty of criminal contempt of court in a prominent environmental case.
For full text and graphics visit:

27.0202 : Swiss bank quits Turkish dam project (BBC News)

Wednesday, 27 February, 2002, 16:20 GMT
Swiss bank quits Turkish dam project Switzerland's largest bank, UBS, has pulled out of a troubled dam project in Turkey, saying it was concerned about its social and environmental impact. Environmental groups have strongly criticised the Ilisu dam project in the south-east of the country - saying the scheme would displace tens of thousands of people and flood historic towns. Its future had already been thrown into doubt after the main contractors in the $1.5bn project - British consortium firm Balfour Beatty and Impregilo of Italy - withdrew in November for similar reasons. Now, UBS has ended its financial backing for the controversial project. "The decisive factor behind this termination is that the general progress of the project has been unsatisfactory in recent years," UBS said in a statement. "Until now there has been no definitive decision on what accompanying measures are to be taken to minimise the social and environmental impact of the project," it said. Controversy The Ilisu dam is part of an enormous regeneration scheme known as the Gap project. Turkey plans it to be the second largest of 22 dams for generating electricity and irrigation in an area hit by poverty. But ever since the dam was proposed, critics have argued that it would flood 300,000 sq km of land, including the sites of ancient Ottoman and Byzantine towns and villages. They also say that more than 30,000 local people, mostly ethnic Kurds, would be displaced. Neighbouring Syria and lraq have also objected to what they say is a potential reduction of the water flow in the River Tigris. The news seems to have come as a surprise to Turkey's Energy Ministry. The ministry told the BBC it was preparing a statement, but said the contractors building the dam were responsible for it and they would have to deal with the withdrawal of UBS.

- BBC News
- Webpage UBS
- More RiverNet News on Ilisu

27.02.02 Schweizer Grossbank zieht sich aus dem Ilisu Grosstaudammprojekt zurück

Was lange währt wird endlich gut:
Die Erklärung von Bern begrüsst den Rücktritt der UBS aus dem Beratungsmandat für den Bau des türkischen Ilisu-Wasserkraftprojekts

Zürich, 27. Februar 2002 Mediencommuniqué "Erklärung vonBern"
Die UBS teilte am 27. Februar 2002 mit, dass sie den seit 1997 bestehenden Mandatsvertrag mit der Lieferfirma zur Beratung, Strukturierung und Arrangierung der Finanzierung auflösen wird. Sie gab zu, dass bis heute keine abschliessende Festlegung der flankierenden Massnahmen zur Eindämmung der sozialen und ökologischen Auswirkungen des Projekts erfolgt ist. Die Schweizer Grossbank entspricht damit den Forderungen der Erklärung von Bern, die bereits seit mehreren Jahren die schweren ökologischen Folgen des geplanten Staudamms Kraftwerks kritisiert und Menschenrechtsverletzungen anprangert. Der Ausstieg der UBS kommt allerdings reichlich spät. Spätestens seit Erscheinen der offiziellen Umwelt- und Sozialverträglichkeitsprüfung (UVP), im Juni 2001, war offensichtlich, dass das Mammutkraftwerk nicht den gängigen Standards entspricht. Der Ausstieg der UBS stellt allein noch kein Scheitern des Projekts dar, bedeutet allerdings eine wesentliche Verzögerung des Baubeginns. Die verbleibenden Firmen müssen nun eine neue Bank suchen, welche die finanzielle Abwicklung des Projekts koordiniert. Dies dürfte auch angesichts der schweren Finanz- und Wirtschaftskrise der Türkei schwierig werden, die für Banken ein hohes Länderrisiko darstellt. Bei der schweizerischen Exportrisikogarantie hat das Projekt deshalb vorerst keine Priorität. Die Erklärung von Bern sieht sich mit dem Rücktritt der UBS in ihrer scharfen Kritik am Ilisu Kraftwerk-Projekt bestätigt.

Infos zur Pressemitteilung der Erklärung von Bern :
Christine Eberlein, Tel. 031 372 73 07 (nur am 27.2.) und am 28.2. 01 277 70 08
- Ilisu Webpages der Erklärung von Bern
- Webpage UBS
- Weitere Infos zu Ilisu und den türkischen Flüssen


26.02.02: Germany : the parliamentary majority declares its opposition to dam building on the Danube.

"The Danube will remain a river."

On February 26th the coalition SPD/Green declared itself in favour of a Danube with no further dams or canalization, following the expert hearing of February 20th. This is a clear decision of the parliamentary majority in
favour of the "A" solution for the improvement of the navigability of the Danube.
This will keep the Danube free-flowing between Straubing and Vilshofen and respect the priceless floodplains of the area.This decision will enable the Danube to be developed in an ecological way. The "A" solution, respecting the river structure, can also be implement veryquickly, is the cheapest solution, and is the only one to be compatible with European legislation.
(ERN - From the the Press release of Albert Schmidt, spokesman and coordinator of the alliance "Bündnis 90/Green party".)

- more Information on Waterways Projects
- more information on the Danube river basin

26.02.02: Die Donau bleibt ein Fluss! Rot-Grüne Koalitionsmehrheit lehnt Stauregulierung der Donau zwischen Straubing und Vilshofen ab.

Pressemitteilung von Albert Schmidt, MdB (Verkehrspolitischer Sprecher und politischer Koordinator des AK II der Bundestagsfraktion BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN).

Berlin, 26.02.2002: Zu den anstehenden Entscheidungen über den Donauausbau (Staustufen und Kanalisierung oder "sanfter" Ausbau) erklären Rezzo Schlauch, Fraktionsvorsitzender, und Albert Schmidt, verkehrspolitischer Sprecher der Bundestagsfraktion Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen: Die Donau bleibt ein Fluss ! Heute Vormittag haben sich die Spitzen der Koalitionsfraktionen von SPD und Bündnis90/DIE GRÜNEN darauf verständigt, im Anschluss an die Expertenanhörung vom 20. Februar 2002 den Ausbau der Donau ohne Staustufen und ohne Kanalisierung voranzutreiben.

Dies ist eine klare Entscheidung der Parlamentsmehrheit für die Verbesserung der Schiffbarkeit der Donau nach Variante A und für den Erhalt des freifließenden Flusses zwischen Straubing und Vilshofen mit seinen unschätzbaren Auenlandschaften. Mit dieser Grundsatzentscheidung steht einem raschen und umweltverträglichen Donauausbau nichts mehr im Wege. Die Anhörung vom 20. Februar hat klar ergeben: 1) Der "sanfte" Ausbau mit flussbaulichen Mitteln (Variante A) wird nicht beklagt und kann somit ohne gerichtliche Verzögerungen am schnellsten realisiert werden. 2) Er ist mit einem Nutzen-Kosten-Faktor von 8,3 die mit Abstand wirtschaftlichste Variante und kann über 90% des Verkehrs aufnehmen. 3) Nur die Variante A ist ökologisch vertretbar und mit dem europäischen Umweltrecht vereinbar, da sie die einmaligen Flusslandschaften (u.a. FFH-Schutzgebiete) auf Dauer erhält. 4) Die Behauptung der Bayerischen Staatsregierung, wonach der Bund gegenüber Bayern vertraglich zu einem Ausbau mit Staustufen verpflichtet sei, wurde eindeutig widerlegt: Die Vertragslage schreibt das Wie des Ausbaus gerade nicht vor. Wir erwarten, dass der Bundesverkehrsminister die folgenden Schritte in Übereinstimmung mit dem politischen Willen der Koalitionsmehrheit einleitet. Die heutige Übereinkunft ist eine historische Entscheidung zum Schutz der Donau und für eine Verbesserung der Schiffbarkeit. Heute ist ein Freudentag für zahllose Menschen, die seit Jahren für diese Lösung gekämpft haben.

- mehr Infos zum Ausbau europäischer Flüsse zu Grosswasserstrassen (english)
- mehr infos zur Donau und ihren Zuflüssen

24.02.02: The EP Environment Committee approves the am. against the PHN

With 29 votes in favor and 28 against the Environment Committee has approved today the amendment against the PHN tabled to the resolution on the sustainable development strategy for the Barcelona Summit.
Here is the text of the amendment:
6a. Is deeply worried about the precedent set by proposals for the development of unsustainable water management schemes across Europe, such as the Spanish National Hydrological Plan (NHP), adopted by the Spanish Senate on 20 June 2001 and which includes proposals to build up to 118 new dams and widespread irrigation infrastructure, as they do not address the issue of sustainable water use through pricing mechanisms and other water conservation measures and calls on the European Commission for these reasons not to provide any EU funding for these transfer water projects.
We have now to expect an EPP campaign either to remove the resolution on the Barcelona summit from the agenda of the plenary session of next week or to influence the vote of the liberals (ELDR group), who was split during the vote on the amendment!
More information on the Spanish National Hydrological Plan.

22.02.02: New technique compares pollution at different estuaries

Researchers at Cornell University in the US have developed the first methodology for directly comparing levels of polluted run-off from agriculture and industry between estuaries.
Read full article


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