Protecting Rivers and Rights
The 10th Anniversary of the World Commission on Dams Report
Hoai ThanhThe most comprehensive guidelines for large dams that protect the rights of river-dependent communities were outlined by the World Commission on Dams (WCD) in 2000. The WCD assessed the development effectiveness of dams in an independent, participatory process, and established what has come to be regarded as the gold standard for dam building.
The WCD principles encompass basic values of human rights and sustainable development that are essential to minimizing the negative impacts of large dams on people and the environment. Certain WCD principles have also been incorporated into various international and national laws and policies. Important WCD principles include:
- The need to assess all available options for meeting water and energy needs before proceeding with a dam project;
- Demonstrating public acceptance and requiring free, prior and informed consent of affected indigenous peoples;
- Fixing problems from existing dams before building new ones;
- Managing downstream impacts and environmental flows;
- Sharing benefits with affected people; and
- Ensuring compliance with project agreements.
To commemorate the WCD 10th anniversary (WCD+10), International Rivers and organizations worldwide are organizing dialogues, conferences and other events to highlight the progress that has been made and the work that still needs to be done to protect rivers and rights. You can follow these activities here and on our Dam Standards email list.
- NGO Platform on the WCD+10
- Watch a video by EcoDoc Africa and International Rivers on the WCD+10
- Volta Basin Development Foundation holds press conference on Ghana Dams Dialogue
- Society for Water and Public Health Protection (Nigeria) holds a meeting on the WCD and how dam-affected communities can engage in a new water bill .
- World Water Week, Stockholm, September 5-11, 2010: follow us online as we promote a new global dams dialogue that puts people and the planet first.
- Rivers for Life 3: the Third International Meeting of Dam-Affected People and Their Allies in Temacapulin, Mexico, will examine dam standards ten years after the WCD.
- "Protecting Rivers and Rights: The World Commission on Dams Recommendations in Action," July 2010, a briefing kit for activists and allies.
- Map of WCD dialogue processes around the world
- World Rivers Review: Focus on Dam Standards, June 2010
- Water Alternatives online journal, special issue on WCD+10
- Why do we need strong environmental and social standards?
- Dams and Development: A New Framework for Decision-Making, the World Commission on Dams final report, 2000