The World Commissions on Dams final report describes an innovative framework for planning water and energy projects. The WCD framework covers key areas for improved planning of dams, including the need to fully assess all available options for meeting water and energy needs; addressing outstanding social issues from existing dams before building new ones, gaining public acceptance for key decisions, and the importance of protecting healthy rivers. The WCD recommendations form the basis for many decision-making processes for dams around the world and constitute international soft law. They are also being adapted to national contexts in various public dialogue processes around the world. The commission was a global multi-stakeholder body initiated in 1997 by the World Bank and the World Conservation Union (IUCN) in response to growing opposition to large dam projects.1
Goal: The report intends to protect dam-affected people and the environment, and ensure that the benefits from dams are more equitably distributed.
- Needs assessment: validating the needs for water and energy services.
- Selecting alternatives: identifying the preferred development plan from among the full range of options.
- Project preparation: verifying that agreements are in place before tender of the construction contract.
- Project implementation: confirming compliance before commissioning.
- Project operation: adapting to changing contexts.
Strategic Priority 1: Gaining Public Acceptance
1 Stakeholder Analysis
2 Negotiated Decision-Making Processes
3 Free, Prior and Informed Consent
Strategic Priority 2: Comprehensive Options Assessment
4 Strategic Impact Assessment for Environmental, Social, Health and Cultural Heritage Issues
5 Project-Level Impact Assessment for Environmental, Social, Health and Cultural Heritage Issues
6 Multi-Criteria Analysis
7 Life Cycle Assessment
8 Greenhouse Gas Emissions
9 Distributional Analysis of Projects
10 Valuation of Social and Environmental Impacts
11 Improving Economic Risk Assessment
Strategic Priority 3: Addressing Existing Dams
12 Ensuring Operating Rules Reflect Social and Environmental Concerns
13 Improving Reservoir Operations
Strategic Priority 4: Sustaining Rivers and Livelihoods
14 Baseline Ecosystem Surveys
15 Environmental Flow Assessment
16 Maintaining Productive Fisheries
Strategic Priority 5: Recognising Entitlements and Sharing Benefits
17 Baseline Social Conditions
18 Impoverishment Risk Analysis
19 Implementation of the Mitigation, Resettlement and Development Action Plan
20 Project Benefit-Sharing Mechanisms
Strategic Priority 6: Ensuring Compliance
21 Compliance Plans
22 Independent Review Panels for Social and Environmental Matters
23 Performance Bonds
24 Trust Funds
25 Integrity Pacts
Strategic Priority 7: Sharing Rivers for Peace, Development, and Security
26 Procedures for Shared Rivers
- International Rivers (2014): The World Commission on Dams [↩]
- International Rivers (2000): Dams and Development. A New Framework for Decision-Making [↩]