World Commission on Dams

Activists Protest Greenwashing of Dams at World Water Forum

Activists erect inflatable dam at WWF
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Call for Compliance with the World's Highest StandardsActivists erect inflatable dam at WWF Marseille, France – Activists created a living river and inflated a large dam in central Marseille today against the corporate greenwashing of dams at this week's 6th World Water Forum in Marseille, France. The colourful manifestation of over 100 protestors from China, Turkey, Brazil, Vietnam, France, and others called attention to how dams are destroying the world's freshwater biodiversity and causing irreversible losses to the world's cultures. Ronack Monabay of Friends of the Earth – France, st

Human Rights Hero Passes Away

Kader Asmal and Nelson Mandela at the launch of the WCD report
Kader Asmal and Nelson Mandela at the launch of the WCD report The World Commission on Dams was one of the most unusual experiments in global governance. Mandated to develop a new model for water and energy projects, it brought together, among others, a firebrand activist from India, a corporate CEO from Sweden, an indigenous rights advocate from the Philippines, and a dam engineer from the US. Thanks to the genius and determination of its chair Kader Asmal, this unlikely group of experts from opposite walks of life worked together to produce a breakthrough for human rights and the environm

Civil Society Statement on the Launch of the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol (HSAP)

Thursday, June 16, 2011
Congress of the International Hydropower Association Foz do Iguaçú, Brasil

 Make no mistake: the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol (HSAP) is a purely voluntary assessment tool.  It has little basis in multilateral international agreements, and exerts no binding force.  This proposed Protocol risks weakening existing social and environmental standards and concentrating control over assessments in the hands of the hydropower industry, ignoring the democratic processes of national legislation and international accords.  

The HSAP seeks only to measure, not enforce, the

Tribes Dispute Greenwashing by Dam Builders

Sheyla Juruna at the IHA Congress
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Conflict of Interest at Heart of Sustainability Guidelines, Says Environmental GroupFoz do Iguaçú, Brazil― Indigenous people from Brazil's vast but shrinking Amazon region yesterday interrupted the Congress of the International Hydropower Association, claiming that the Belo Monte Dam was approved illegally by the Brazilian government, vowing to fight as long as it takes to stop the dam. At the same event, environmental activists dismissed a new voluntary environmental tool as an effort by the dam industry to greenwash its practices. Sheyla Juruna of the Juruna tribe, which would be direct

Happy Birthday, World Commission on Dams!

Ngoh Seh Suan/Wikimedia Commons Ten years ago on this day, Nelson Mandela launched the report of the independent World Commission on Dams (WCD) at a glitzy ceremony in London. The Commission – composed of prominent members of governments, the dam industry, civil society and academia – had carried out the first in-depth assessment of the development impacts of dams. It found that while “dams have made an important and significant contribution to human development,” in “too many cases an unacceptable and often unnecessary price has been paid to secure those benefits”. For example,

Defending Rivers and Rights

Thursday, September 9, 2010
Originally published in Pambazuka News Across the globe, from the floodplains of the Amazon to the foothills of the Himalayas, from Burmese forests to Ethiopia's Omo Valley, peasant and indigenous communities are fighting against destructive dams. Dams have deprived hundreds of millions of people of their homes, farmlands, fisheries and forests. Millions more are threatened by projects that are planned or under construction, writes Peter Bosshard. In early September, governments, dam builders, academics and environmental organizations will get together at World Water Week in Stockholm. The

At World Water Week, an Appeal for Rivers and Rights

Tuesday, September 7, 2010
On September 7, dam builders, governments and NGOs are meeting at World Water Week in Stockholm to discuss appropriate social and environmental standards for future dams. They convene on the 10th anniversary of the World Commission on Dams (WCD), which proposed a new decision-making framework for dams emphasizing the rights of affected people and the protection of the environment. Peter Bosshard, Policy Director of International Rivers, pointed out at the Stockholm event that the principles of the WCD have become the most legitimate benchmark for water and energy projects. Recent experience wi

Protecting Rivers and Rights: the Promise of the WCD

Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Ten years after the World Commission on Dams (WCD) report, the WCD is still our best roadmap towards ensuring that future dams minimize social and environmental impacts, the legacy of existing dams are addressed, and affected people directly benefit from the projects. Watch this video, produced by International Rivers and EcoDoc Africa, to learn more about the promise of the WCD.

Protecting Rivers and Rights: Ten Years after the World Commission on Dams Report

We are committed to meeting the world's water and energy needs in an equitable way while preserving healthy rivers and the livelihoods that depend on them. We have ongoing concerns about large dams and the ways in which they are being planned, implemented and operated. A decade after the World Commission on Dams (WCD) issued its groundbreaking report, the evidence continues to mount that large dams – unless they are developed with the strictest environmental and social standards – bring significant costs to people and the planet: The UN's Third Global Biodiversity Outlook (May 201


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