The legacy of the World Commission on Dams as a science-policy interface
Christopher Schulz (University of Cambridge)
Bill Adams (University of Cambridge)
Paper short abstract:
The World Commission on Dams (1998-2000) was a science-policy interface which sought to resolve long-standing controversies around large dams. We aim to understand the WCD's impact by combining a review of the academic literature with qualitative research with those involved with it at the time.
Paper long abstract:
The World Commission on Dams (WCD) (1998-2000) was a global science-policy interface which sought to resolve long-standing controversies between supporters and opponents of large dams. The mandate of the WCD was "to review the development effectiveness of large dams and assess alternatives for water resources and energy development" and "to develop internationally acceptable criteria, guidelines and standards where appropriate, for the planning, design, appraisal, construction, operation, monitoring and decommissioning of dams". The WCD itself consisted of 12 commissioners representing most world regions, and who covered most positions and interests with regards to large dams. The WCD sought to incorporate known scientific evidence on large dams by commissioning a large number of studies around the impacts of dams; it also held many public engagement events to gauge a wide range of stakeholder views. It concluded its work with the publication of a report entitled "Dams and Development: A New Framework for Decision-Making", which summarised known scientific evidence on dams, and made recommendations for best practice in the form of five core values, three global norms, seven strategic priorities with 33 associated policy principles, five key criteria for planning, and 26 guidelines. It was launched in November 2000 in London with a speech by Nelson Mandela. WCD members hoped these recommendations could inspire lasting positive change around the globe. We aim to understand the WCD's impact on academic thinking and policy by combining a review of the academic literature with qualitative research with those involved with the WCD at the time.
Dams, development & decision-making [paper]