Holding the Dam Industry to Account
The dam industry has never embraced the innovative approach of the World Commission on Dams (WCD). Instead, in 2004, the International Hydropower Association (IHA) created its own, weaker sustainability guidelines. In 2007, IHA convened the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Forum (HSAF) to make their guidelines operational. The Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol (HSAP) was then launched in 2011, without any participation of, or support from, dam-affected people or civil society from the Global South.
In contrast to the WCD, the HSAP is a voluntary industry auditing scorecard, not a sustainability standard. It is not as comprehensive as the WCD, and has no binding power in national legislation or on project finance. Yet, IHA is promoting HSAP to dam builders and governments as a way to claim that their dams are "sustainable." If adopted, the HSAP would seriously undermine existing river, water, and energy standards, and the impacts of destructive dams may be greenwashed over.
Held once every three years, the World Water Forum is the largest privately-organized gathering of water officials in the world. It is not a UN-organized event, but developed and managed by the World Water Council, a consortium of mostly private companies active in the water and sanitation sector. The most recent forum was held in Marseille, France in March 2012. Previous Fora were held in Istanbul (2009), Mexico (2006), Japan (2003), the Netherlands (2000), and Morocco (1997).
The World Water Fora are usually dominated by industry executives and government bureaucrats - the World Water Mafia - keen on advocating for more dirty, risky dams and water privatization. International Rivers has attended almost every water forum to convey the message that large dams are not green, and will not solve the water, energy, and climate challenges facing people and the planet. Water and river movements have always organized alternative water events in parallel with the official events - and International Rivers has always supported those events.