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The World Commission on Dams (WCD)
La Commission Mondiale des Barrages
Die Weltkommission zu Stauddämmen

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What is the WCD ?

In April 1997, with support from the World Bank and IUCN-The World Conservation Union, representatives of diverse interests met in Gland, Switzerland, in light of a recent World Bank report, to discuss highly controversial issues associated with large dams. The workshop brought together 39 participants from governments, the private sector, international financial institutions, civil society organisations and affected people. One proposal that came out of the meeting was for all parties to work together in establishing the World Commission on Dams (WCD) with a mandate to:

  • review the development effectiveness of large dams and assess alternatives for water resources and energy development; and
  • develop internationally acceptable criteria, guidelines and standards, where appropriate, for the planning, design, appraisal, construction, operation, monitoring and decommissioning of dams

    The WCD began its work in May 1998 under the Chairmanship of Prof. Kader Asmal, who was then South Africa's Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry; its members were chosen to reflect regional diversity, expertise and stakeholder perspectives.

  • The WCD was independent, with each member serving in an individual capacity and none representing an institution or a country
  • The Commission conducted the first comprehensive global and independent review of the performance and impacts of large dams, and the options available for water and energy development
  • Public consultation and access to the Commission was a key component of the process. The WCD Forum, with 68 members representing a cross-section of interests, views and institutions, was consulted throughout the Commission's work. The European NGOs organised their own hearing in Bratislava in January 2000.
  • The WCD pioneered a new funding model involving all interest groups in the debate: 53 public, private and civil society organisations pledged funds to the WCD process
  • The final report of the World Commission on Dams, Dams and Development: A New Framework for Decision-Making, was released in London, on November 16th 2000.
  • A final meeting was held in February 2001.

    For a comprehensive information, go to the official site of the WCD.

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Download the official WCD Report

"The WCD report is a milestone in the evolution of dams as a development option. The debate about dams is a debate about the very meaning, purpose and pathways for achieving development. Through its Global Review of the performance of dams, the Commission presents an integrated assessment of when, how and why dams succeed or fail in meeting development objectives. This provides the rationale for a fundamental shift in options assessment and in the planning and project cycles for water and energy resources development."

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  • 15.09.05 : Announcement: WCD+5: Implementing the Recommendations of the World Commission on Dams. (Expert Workshop, Panel Discussion and Media Conference in Berlin, November 15)
  • 14.03.02: Citizens' Guide to the WCD Now Available!
  • 06.01.02: The World Bank Position on the Report of the World Commission on Dams
  • 01.11.01: Dams And Development Project Established
  • 05.11.01: IUCN launches new strategy - global action to improve dams
  • 30.10.01 : A dam-builders' perception of post WCD-context
  • 13.09.01: International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD) thinks that "The WCD recommendations are not universally applicable" and could lead to "potentially disastrous" results "for developing countries".
  • 13.09.01: ICOLD Meeting: Large Dams and the WCD - an NGO Perspective
  • 06.08.01 : Commission's spinoff to carry torch for reform

  • Four months after the release of the report, the World Bank announced its refusal to adopt the WCD recommendations. NGOs are strongly reacting :
    * the common letter of 85 NGOs to the World Bank
    * other NGO's declarations
    the position of opponents of the WCD recommendations

  • 09.04.01 : WCD Mention in G8 Environment Summit Communiqué
  • 05.04.01 : Changing of the Guard: New Director Appointed for Transition Period
  • 05.04.01 : WCD Wins 2001 Institutional Award from International Association of Impact Assessment

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