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ICOLD welcomes World Commission on Dams

The international-commission-on-large-dams has welcomed the foundation of the World Commission on Dams, in an announcement made on 11 May 1998.

In its announcement, ICOLD identifies its own mission: ‘to develop and disseminate know-how such that dams and dikes built for different purposes are safe, environmentally compatible, socially acceptable and economical’. ICOLD notes the arguments between proponents and critics of dams, and says that ‘clashes between dam proponents and critics have brought the large dams issue into focus as one of the most intensely debated infrastructure issues’.

The announcement adds: ‘ICOLD’s policy and goals are clearly stated in its Position paper on dams and environment. ICOLD realises that there unfortunately are examples of projects in the past which were not sufficiently well-planned, or the necessary know-how was not available at the time.

‘ICOLD therefore welcomes the initiative taken by the World Bank and the World Conservation Union to create a special commission (named World Commission on Dams) with the following two-year mandate: (a)review the development effectiveness of dams and assess realistic alternatives for water resource and energy development, and (b) to develop standards and criteria for future decision making in the planning of dams’.

ICOLD notes that the Commission chairman, Kader Asmail, has stressed the importance of a balanced Commission, and that ‘While expressing concerns about potentially adverse effects of dams, he emphasises that the industrialised world must understand the legitimate development needs of the developing world.’ The Committee says it ‘Endorses the Commission’s objectives and will support it in its efforts to provide information and guidance to facilitate communication and conflict resolution’.