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European NGO-hearing on WCD related issues
and strategy meeting on future campaigns 
against destructive large dams

Bratislava, Slovakia January 16-19 - 2000

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3 Feb 2000 Letter from European Hearing to WCD

Prof. Kader Asmal, President World Commission on Dams
5th Floor, Hycastle House, 58 Loop Street PO Box 16002 Vlaeberg,
Cape Town 8018, South Africa
All the Commissioners World Commission on Dams Bratislava,

19 th January 2000 Subject: European NGO hearing on WCD related issues Dear Mr. President and Commissioners of the World Commission on Dams, At the conclusion of the European NGO-hearing on World Commission on Dams related issues held in Bratislava on 17th and 18th January 2000, representatives of NGOs working on river and human rights issues met to review the progress of WCD. We wish to convey to you the following concerns: 1. We find it regrettable that the Commission was unwilling to sponsor a European hearing and that despite the efforts of Friend of the Earth Slovakia in organising this meeting in consultation with WCD staff, only one member of the Commission was able to attend the hearing despite the fact that the meeting was convened on the date set by the Secretariat. 2. We are concerned that the lack of attention that the WCD has paid to European dam issues and the destructive role of European dam industry world-wide could lead to important failings in the WCD report. 3. We believe that it is essential that the WCD counters the myth that dam building in Europe has not been associated with the same environmental destruction, social disruption, violation of human rights and economic waste that is occurring world-wide. We also believe that it is essential for WCD to address the role and responsibility of European dam building industry, which is now largely obsolete in its home countries, but encouraged to perpetrate the destruction elsewhere in the world with the connivance export credit agencies, multilateral development banks and European private financial institutions. 4. We have now had an opportunity to review the first drafts of certain work products produced by the WCD. We have to convey to you our deep disappointment on the quality and objectivity of certain of these reports. Specific comments on their content will be sent to the WCD separately, but an underlying concern is that wherever there is limited information on a particular issue, it appears that the WCD is requiring NGOs to provide the burden of proof in addressing these issues. This tendency implicitly and unfairly accepts the unsubstantiated arguments of the dam building industry as legitimate, and its critics arguments as speculation. Another concern is that few if any of the draft work products are referencing NGO submissions. 5. We are concerned that key questions are being ignored or misrepresented in the WCD work products. These questions include: - Will the WCD assess the financial and economic record of dams built to date? Will it compare planned costs against actual costs? Will it document the extent of cost and time overruns? Will it mention names where consultants underestimated the costs? - Will the Commission be examining the full impacts of dams on climate? Will it look into the evidence that silt trapped by dams could disrupt a vitally important mechanism for locking away carbon? - Will the Commission examine the links between aid agencies and the use of development aid to bail out failing European dam building companies under the pretence of helping the South? - Will the WCD consider the moral and financial obligations that European companies have to the communities whose lives have been so violently disrupted by the projects from which they have benefited? - Will the Commission be proposing mechanisms that would oblige Northern countries to behave abroad as they would be expected to behave at home? Or legislative proposals which would prevent the dumping of outdated and outmoded technologies on the South? - In fulfilling its mandate to examine the development effectiveness of dam, will the Commission document how companies, consultants, bureaucrats, richer farmers and the like have benefited from dam-based development strategies, how those strategies have proved effective for them, and the extent to which they have benefited? Will it, for example, document the sums that have been returned to Northern countries in the form of contracts? Will it examine the profits made by shareholders in European dam companies? - Will it examine the role that dam-based development strategies - and the political infrastructure underpinning them - have privileged certain forms of expertise and institutional power over others? Will it document how this may have closed off alternative (and possibly more equitable) means of achieving various development goals? - Will it examine the role that dam-based development strategies have played in increasing the indebtedness of countries, in encouraging corruption and patronage politics? And will it examine who has benefited from these trends at whose expense? - Will it investigate the full range of long-term impacts of dams on riverine, floodplain wetlands, estuarine, and coastal ecosystems, identifying whether these impacts can be reasonably mitigated? - Will it examine the true impacts of dams on flood hazards and the discrepancy between the claims of flood control by dam proponents and the actual record of flood damages downstream of dams? - Will the Commission address costs and liability of decommissioning of dams at the end of their life cycle? - Will it address the important question of dam safety, downstream emergency preparedness, liability for dam safety? - Will it address how dams have altered key physical processes that sustain river ecosystem, particularly in large lowland rivers typical of central and eastern Europe? Will it examine how sediment captured in reservoirs depletes floodplains, and erodes river banks and shorelines. We hope that you will direct your staff to fully address these concerns.



Dammed at home, damming abroad
Europe, the World Commission on Dams and Large Dams
18th January, 2000, Bratislava

NGOs from 22 European countries at the regional NGO-hearing on World Commission on Dams related issues held in Bratislava on 17th and 18th January 2000,  warmly welcomed the presence of Commissioner Joji Carino from the Philippines and two staff members of the Secretariat of the World Commission on Dams.
At the same time the meeting expressed extreme regret that other members of the Commission were unable to attend the hearing despite the fact that the meeting was convened on the date set by the Secretariat with the committment by NGOs to cover conference expenses. 
NGOs at the meeting felt that the World Commission on Dams has missed an opportunity to hear about the controversial  performance of dams in Europe and abroad and European NGOs’– as well as visiting NGOs from Lesotho, Thailand, Guatemala, Chile and United States - contributions to the international debate on the future of such economically, environmentally and socially questionable development projects. Above all the Commission failed to respect European NGOs’ efforts in organising such an important regional consultation meeting.

The meeting represented a unique opportunity for dam affected people throughout Slovakia - who held a separate session during the two-days hearing - to make links with other dam affected communities around the world and to share information about anti-dam campaigns currently in progress in several countries, both in Europe and abroad. Meeting participants endorsed the call for a moratorium on new dams in Slovakia promoted by 60 Slovakian civil society organisations.

The meeting concluded that there is no evidence that large scale dams have to have a future in energy and water management strategies.
The meeting examined in detail the case made by dam builders in Europe and abroad and it rejected the thesis that  dams provide a cheap and economic source of energy. 
Participants clearly reported how trans-national companies based in European countries adopt double standards depending whether they operate in Europe or abroad. While social and enviornmental guidelines start to be used in their operations at home, they still support the dumping of outdated and outmoded technologies on the South and use inadequate procedures while confronting local communities’ needs.
Meeting participants agreed that dams are not an environmentally benign source of energy which should benefit from international incentive mechanisms under the United Nations Kyoto Protocol for the reduction of green house gases emissions into Earth’s atmosphere. In particular, the meeting documented how in several cases dams have increased human induced green house gas emissions.
The meeting also reported resistance to dams in Europe and how trans-national engineering companies based in northern countries have used development aid to bail themselves out. The meeting highlighted how leading international development institutions failed to bring long-term development through supporting dams in developing countries.
The meeting was shocked to learn of the gross violations of human rights that have accompanied dam building – in particular the massacres of the Aché people at Chixoy – and determined to call on the whole international NGO community to do all it can to support the victims of such abuses and to make those responsible accountable.

The meeting raised a series of specific issues which should be fully addressed by the World Commission on Dams:
the political and financial infrastructure that have supported large scale dams
 the undemocratic and unparticipatory decision making process which has usually accompained the building of dams worldwide
 how companies have benefited from dam building in Europe in the past and now abroad
 the destructive process of dam building in the last century
 dam safety worldwide
 ecological impacts on lowland rivers in central and eastern Europe
 problems which constantly occurred in companesation and resettlement process during dam building in Europe and abroad
 the need for decommissioning  of old, unsafe and useless dams
 how women have been particularly affected by dams
 ineffectiveness of flood control in Europe and abroad
 Double environmental, social and technical performance standards that companies currently adopt depending on whether they operate at home or abroad
 corruption cases which occurred in Europe and abroad during dam building processes

Finally, meeting participants urged the World Commission on Dams to fairly and fully analyse what has been the politics of dam building in the 20th century and not to let those who have benefited from dams escape their responsibilities to those who have suffered at their expense.    ___________________________________________________________________________________
For any further information, please contact meeting organisers at Friends of the Earth, Slovakia
Contact person: Juraj Zamkovsky, tel. 088 4193324, 0905 560159, 0903 797602, e-mail: zamkovsky@changenet.sk


As European NGOs working on dams in Europe and European involvement in dam-building abroad, particularly in the South, we would like to invite you to take part in a meeting planned for January 16th-19th in Bratislava.
The main meeting will held on January 17th and 18th and will be hosted by Friends of the Earth Slovakia. It is intended both to strengthen European networks working on dams and to bring the concerns of the NGO community to the attention of the World Commission on Dams, which is due to report in 2000. The date of the meeting has been agreed with the WCD in order to enable WCD commissioners and secretariat staff to attend.
There will be a small, informal strategy meeting on Sunday January 16th for NGOs to discuss what they hope to get out of the main meeting. Wednesday January 19th will be a closed session for NGOs to strategize on future co-operations and campaigns against destructive large dams in Europe and European support for destructive dams abroad.

All accomodation and meals will be paid for by the conference organisers. Travel expenses will be paid for speakers from the South and from Eastern Europe. A small budget is being raised for smaller European NGOs wishing to attend the meeting but unable to do so due to shortage of funds.

For those who are willing to participate, please contact us as soon as possible at the following e-mail address: zamkovsky@changenet.sk or at phone/fax number: +421 88 4193324. 
We will then immediately send you detailed information on how you can get to the hotel, etc. If it is possible, please indicate your arrival and departure dates as well, but it is not absolutely necessary at this phase. We first need to know your willingness to come.
We look forward to hear from you soon.

With the best wishes,
Juraj Zamkovsky, Friends of the Earth - Slovakia


In the original work programme of the WCD, a European consultation - dealing with issues unique to the European experience 
with large dams - was planned. Due to funding constraints, the WCD was forced to cancel this event. Since then European 
NGOs have lobbied for a re-consideration of this decision but to no avail.

At the first "European wide strategy meeting on dams, water and people" hosted by Klub Gaja in Bielsko-Biela, 
Poland April 21-25th, it was decided that European NGOs working on large dams should proceed with arranging 
an independent hearing and a steering committee was formed.

This meeting is totally independent of the WCD in terms of selection of speakers, themes, invitees etc. 
Funding has been raised entirely by NGOs.

However, several commissioners of the WCD has been invited to take part in the hearing as observers 
in order to ensure that input from the European NGOs can be passed on directly to the commission.


We believe that it is very important that a strong "European voice" is heard in the WCD process. In particular, we believe it 
essential that the commission is disabused of the widely-held view that dams are uncontroversial in Europe and informed 
of the deleterious impact of Europe's dam building industry abroad. We also feel that Europe has much to offer in terms of 
innovative approaches to flood control and water management, many of which are the direct result of popular opposition to 
dam building.

The panels are chosen so as to provide a framework in order to present some of the most important experiences of 
movements in Europe workingon dams and dam related issues:

  • The role of European companies, aid and ECAs in dam-building in the South
  • The loss of biodiversity in freshwater ecosystems caused by large dams and difficulties in obtaining 

  • successful mitigation measures 
  • Past and present struggles against large dams
  • Examples of dam-decommissioning
  • Critical research on the socio-economic and climatic impacts of dams worldwide.
Presentations, submissions and panel discussions - where WCD commissioners participate - will altogether provide a substantial 
contribution to WCD's knowledge base and hopefully strongly influence the commissions final report.


„Dammed at Home, Damming Abroad:
Europe, the WCD and Large Dams“

International Conference

Hotel „Ano, prosim“, Bratislava, Slovak Republic
January 17-18, 2000

January 17th

9-9.30 Opening remarks and Overview
Nicholas Hildyard, The Corner House, United Kingdom: Damned at Home, Damning Abroad

9.30-11.00 Exploding the Myths
Juliette Majot, International Rivers Network, USA: The Economics of Dam Building
Bina Srinivasan, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, India: Gender – The Ignored Dimension

11.00-11.15 COFFEE BREAK

11.15-1.15 Impacts and Ways Forward
Lars Lvgren, River Savers, Sweden: The destruction of riverine ecosystems – A Scandanavian Case Study
Roberto Epple, SOS Loire, France: Dam Decommissioning works
Philip Williams, International Rivers Network, USA: Flood management - learning to live with floods

1.15-2.00 LUNCH

2.00-3.30 European Experience with Dams: Past Struggles
Lars Lvgren, River Savers, Sweden: 90 Years of Dam Struggles in Scandanavia
Roberto Epple, SOS Loire, France: The Campaign to Save the Loire
Juraj Zamkovsky, Friends of the Earth Slovakia, Andras Janossy, For the Danube Foundation, Hungary: Campaigns on the Danube River

3.30-3.45 COFFEE BREAK

3.45-5.15 Current Struggles
Jacek Brozek, Klub Gaja, Poland: Dams on the Vistula
Chus Lopez, COAGRET/ARA, Spain: Itoiz and Spain's secret water transfer agenda
Elena Kiritchok, East-Euroasian Campaign, European Rivers Network, Russia: The Struggle Against Belaia, Russia

5.15-5.30 TEA BREAK

Roberto Epple, European Rivers Network, France: TransEuropean Networks – A Threat in the Making
Renzo Tranzin, Vajont Victims, Italy: The Vajont Experience
Roman Havlicek, Friends of the Earth, Slovakia: The Call for A Moratorium on Large Dams


January 18th: Dam Building Abroad

9.00-11.00 Financing Dams Abroad - Overview
Jaroslava Colajacomo, Reform the WB Campaign, Italy: The World Bank and Dams
Peter Bosshard, Berne Declaration, Switzerland: Export Credit Agencies (ECAs)
Heffa Schuecking, Urgewald, Germany: The Private Sector – The Maheshwar Case Study
Oyvind Eggar, FIVAS, Norway: Dams and Nordic Aid - A Case Study

11.00-11.15 COFFEE BREAK

11.15-1.15 The Companies
Kate Gearry, Freelance Journalist/Chris Lang, EarthArk, United Kingdom: European Dam Builders Abroad – The Record of Europe’s Largest Companies
Witoon Pempongsacharoen, TERRA, Thailand: European companies and consultants on the Rampage – A Mekong Case Study

1.15-2.00 LUNCH

2.00-2:10 Statement of the dam affected from Slovakia (they will have a separate meeting in the morning and after lunch they will join the conference)

2.10-3.30 Case Studies
Rebecca Wood, Kurdish Human Rights Project, United Kingdom: The Ilisu Dam, Turkey
Thabang Kholumo, Highlands Church Solidarity Action Center, Lesotho and Juliette Majot, International Rivers Network, USA: The Lesotho Highlands Water Project
Juan Pablo Oreggo, GABB, Chile: Dams on the Bio Bio, Chile

3.30-3.45 COFFEE BREAK

3.45-4.45 Case Studies
Goran Ek, Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, Sweden: Swedish Support for the Urra Dam, Colombia
Carlos Chen Osorio, Rio Negro Community, Guatemala: The Chixoy Massacre

4.45- 5.00 COFFEE BREAK

5.00- 5.30 Consultation or Negotiation
Nicholas Hildyard, The Corner House, United Kingdom:: Prior Informed Consent - Sharing Power



for more information :

Ponicka Huta 65, 976 33 Poniky, Slovakia
tel/fax: +421-88-4193324
email: foe@changenet.sk
web: http://www.changenet.sk/foe/


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