Three Gorges Probe

Big Projects Targeted for Review

Engineering News Record
May 20, 2006

As the International Commission on Large Dams met last week in Beijing, China, international dambuilders are bracing for the release of a report that could rewrite planning and, more importantly, lending criteria for large international dam projects.

International dambuilders were stunned in 1997 by the World Bank’s brokering of a worldwide $10-million effort to provide the first "holistic" review of the megaprojects. Now, they are bracing for release of a report that could rewrite planning and, more importantly, lending criteria for large international dam projects. Over 300 members of the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD) met last week in Beijing, China, to formulate a strategy to smooth acceptance of large dams, at least 50 meters high. A succession of speakers referred to the "critical times" now facing dambuilders. IMPACTS. Their focus was on the World Commission on Dams (WCD), whose report on costs and benefits could redefine methods and practices for moving large dams into actual construction. The report, to be released in November, will emphasize socioeconomic and environmental consequences of large projects‚Äîdefined not only by governmental planning agencies, but also by citizen and other activist groups not traditionally included in planning efforts. "We will be saying that social and economic impacts are undeniable," WCD Commissioner Judy Henderson told ICOLD members. "Indeed, many are now regarded as unacceptable. But we also say they are not necessarily inevitable. Given today’s knowledge and experience, many are avoidable." Topics of particular concern for the industry are resettlement and compensation for people directly affected by large projects and environmental impacts upstream and downstream.

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