Asian Development Bank

Letter to the WCD Chair, signed by the ADB President

December 22, 2000

Following is a letter to the WCD Chair, signed by the ADB President, and information about a workshop organized by WCD at ADB’s headquarters from February 19-20, 2001

Asian Development Bank

Letter to the WCD Chair, signed by the ADB President

22 December 2000

Professor Kader Asmal

Chair, World Commission on Dams

Dear Sir,

Subject: World Commission on Dams (WCD) – Dams and Development

I would like to express my personal thanks to you for inviting me to attend the launch of the Commission’s report, Dams and Development in London on 16 November 2000. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend, but Preben Nielsen, Deputy Director of our Infrastructure, Energy and Financial Sectors (West) Department represented ADB. ADB is proud to have played a role in the work of WCD as a member of the Forum, a participant in, and commentator on the thematic reviews, funder of the fourth regional consultation held in Hanoi, and contributor to the Commission’s knowledge base as a result of our own case studies. These were undertaken as part of ADB’s regional technical assistance program, the final report of which will be issued shortly. We note that, although dams have been the vehicle for WCD’s work, the findings are applicable to many of ADB’s major infrastructure projects.

I share your view that publication of Dams and Development is only the end of the beginning. We have listened as the Commission has told its story and accept that future progress is “up to us.” I would therefore like to outline our proposals to help disseminate the findings and recommendations in the report.

Firstly, we have distributed the report to individual ADB staff. Secondly, Jeremy Bird of the WCD Secretariat made a very valuable presentation in Manila on 29 November, which drew a great deal of interest from a wide range of ADB staff. Thirdly, we have allocated a budget which we will use for two regional dissemination meetings directed at senior government officials, utility managers, academic staff, and NGOs. The first will be held at ADB Headquarters in mid February 2001 and the second will be a follow-up workshop later in the year.

It is heartening to note that the Commission recommends that more attention should be paid to the rights and risks of vulnerable groups, when development projects are being planned. The report provides valuable, concrete information to support ADB’s increased focus on (i) poverty reduction, (ii) the participatory process in development, and (iii) concern for gender and environmental issues. As for dams themselves, the WCD clearly acknowledges that dams are one of the options to be considered in meeting various development objectives. Comparison of alternatives must include sufficient and early recognition of all the costs and impacts and with due consideration for equitable sharing of costs and benefits between all stakeholders for the selected alternative.

ADB will re-examine its own procedures, including our environment and social development policies, and determine the extent to which the report’s recommendations may necessitate changes in these procedures. We will also encourage our member countries to do the same.

Yours sincerely,

Tadao Chino


Workshop: Dams and Development

ADB Headquarters Manila: 19-20 February 2001


The World Commission on Dams (WCD) was initiated by the World Bank and World Conservation Union (IUCN) in May 1998. Funding has been from over 50 different sources to ensure impartiality.

WCDs final report “Dams and Development” was launched in November 2000. The 12 Commissioners represent a wide range of opinions, i.e. from dam owners and contractors, to environmental and social activists. WCD dissolved itself at the end of 2000, but the secretariat will exist until March 2001 to disseminate the WCD findings.

ADB’s Participation.

Findings from ADB’s study of four large dam projects in the Asian region (China PCR, Lao PDR, Philippines and Sri Lanka) were included in the WCD knowledge base. As a member of the WCD Forum, ADB funded the 4th Regional Consultation in Hanoi in February 2000. ADB participated in the thematic reviews as part of the WCD investigation.

WCD Findings
· Many of the recommendations are applicable to large infrastructure projects in addition to dams.
· All 12 commissioners endorsed the conclusions.
· Previous cost-benefit analysis has too often resulted in projects with negative impacts that have not been addressed.
· Dams remain a legitimate option to achieve development objectives.
· Future decision making should be based on a “rights and risks” assessment of all stakeholders.

Workshop objectives
· To increase awareness of the WCD findings amongst decision-makers in the region.
· To demonstrate ADB’s support for the WCD’s work.
· To obtain feedback from representatives of ADB’sDeveloping Member Countries on WCD’s proposals.
· To identify problems associated with implementation ofthe “rights and risks” approach and
· To propose solutions through structured discussion groups.

· The workshop will be led by two WCD Commissioners:
· Donald Blackmore, Chief Executive of the Murray-Darling Basin Commission in Australia, and Judy Henderson, former Chairperson of Oxfam International and a Board member of the Environment Protection Agency of NSW, Australia.
· Workshop facilitators will be drawn from the WCD secretariat, the ADB Study’s Panel of Experts and the Study’s Consultants from Thailand.

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