World Bank attacked on dams report

5 April 2001

Some 87 NGOs and movements from 30 countries involved in the World Commission on Dams (WCD) sent a letter in March to World Bank President Wolfensohn stating that NGOs will hesitate to engage in future dialogues with the Bank if it does not comprehensively adopt the Commission’s recommendations. The groups say the Bank’s response to the Commission’s report published in November 2000 has been “ill-advised, disappointing and in parts inappropriate”.

After consulting with governments involved in dam building, the Bank informed the WCD Forum in Cape Town in February that it would not adopt the Commission’s new guidelines. Instead, they will be used as a non-binding reference point when considering new dam projects.

NGOs certainly agree that borrowing country governments have an important role to play, and are interested in having an active dialogue with them on the implementation of the WCD report”, says Himanshu Thakkar of the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People, one of the authors of the NGO letter. “Yet if the World Bank simply consults the water and energy ministries which build the largest dams, it should refrain from pretending to be an honest broker, and should make it clear that it represents one interest group”, Thakkar adds.

For World Bank, NGO and industry presentations to the WCD:

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