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The World Commission on Dams +20 years - revisiting dams, decision-making and development 
Roshan Adhikari (University of Manchester)
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David Hulme (University of Manchester)
Thomas Higginbottom (University of Manchester)
Christopher Schulz (University of Cambridge)
Infrastructure and energy
Thursday 1 July, 15:00-16:45 (UTC+1)

Short Abstract:

20 years ago, the World Commission of Dams published its relatively critical report to improve the planning construction and operation of dams. What has changed? This panel convenes cross disciplinary researchers to analyse the evolution in decision-making around dams and their impacts.

Long Abstract

In November 2000, Nelson Mandela launched the Report of the World Commission on Dams (WCD). The commission sought to assemble evidence on why, where and how to (not) build dams to establish a scientific and political consensus around how future dams should be envisaged, designed and operated to achieve social and economic goals whilst minimising impacts on host communities and the environment. While there was a slowdown in dam construction in the immediate aftermath of the WCD report, large-scale water infrastructure projects are back on the development agenda; with over 3,700 large dams under construction or planned in the developing world.

Twenty years since the WCD report, this panel offers a forum to bring together learning from the social, natural and engineering fields about the evolution in decision-making around dams, particularly in the context of the WCD report and the following global dam-building ’renaissance’ of 2005-2020. In particular, we welcome contributions that explore the evolution in decision-making around: water management interventions (political economy of large infrastructure projects, political actions and counter movements), integrated water-food-energy-environment nexus and resource management decisions (decision-making frameworks and integrated assessment toolsets), and socio-environmental ex-ante and ex-post impacts (ecology, hydrological and climate science, resettlement, benefit sharing). Moreover, we also invite abstracts that explore the overarching question “what has changed in the dams and development arena in the last two decades?”

This forum will span two paper panel sessions.

Accepted papers: