World Rivers Review, Vol. 24, No. 1 - March 2009

Monday, March 2, 2009

Cover story: Hydro Industry Seeks to Weaken Standards

For decades, communities affected by dams were asked to trust the good intentions and promises of project developers. This voluntary approach left a legacy of environmental degradation, corruption, conflict, and development disasters.

For more than 20 years, civil society promoted binding standards to safeguard the rights of affected people and the environment. Their struggles resulted in policies to protect indigenous peoples’ rights, promote land-for-land compensation, and preserve ecological no-go areas. Now, the dam industry is now trying to roll back this progress, with voluntary guidelines being formulated by a small, closed group known as the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Forum (HSAF). The HSAF document doesn’t identify minimum standards, and indicates that all impacts can be mitigated through a host of consultants’ reports and management plans. Read our cover story about this flawed process.

What's inside:

  • Commentary: A river of hope flowed through Washington, DC for Pres. Barack Obama’s inauguration. Our executive director was on the scene, soaking up the inspiration.
  • Energy Efficiency: Interview with efficiency expert John Wilson, who shares lessons from the California experience.
  • Energy Efficiency: South Africa: Sustainable Energy Africa pushes for an energy efficiency plan with teeth.
  • Ethiopia: The Gibe 3 dam will do great harm to Lake Turkana in Kenya.
  • Amazon: The Enawene Nawe tribe rebels against dozens of smaller dams being built in their territory.
  • Center spread (pdf): A map of the world’s dam-induced earthquakes, and hotspots where proposed dams could trigger more seismic activity.
  • Himalayas: A dam boom proposed for the Himalaya will create mountains of risk.
  • China-Russia: China’s plans to dam the Amur-Heilong river system, the longest free-flowing river in the eastern hemisphere, threaten its fish, rare birds, and people.
  • China: New dams to support the Three Gorges Dam (by keeping sediments out and helping regulate flow) are being constructed and planned on the tributaries of the Yangtze.