June 13, 2003
Dear Mr. Varma Civil society organizations around the world call on the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD) to incorporate the recommendations of the World Commission on Dams (WCD) into their new Code of Ethics. This call coincides with the 21st Congress of ICOLD being held in Montréal, June 16-20, 2003.
As you know, the World Commission on Dams was formed in 1998 after a realization that the construction of large dams was consistently highly contested, and often resulted in irreparable harm to ecosystems and communities. The Commission was made up of representatives from affected communities, NGOs, academia, governments and industry; industry representatives included the ICOLD honorary chairman, Jan Veltrop.
The result is an innovative framework within which to examine dams both existing and planned. The Commission’s final report, Dams and Development: A New Framework for Decision Making, lays out a process to ensure that the construction of large dams and other energy and water projects avoids negative social, environmental and economic impacts.
After decades of conflict surrounding dams, ICOLD is now developing a Code of Ethics. We urge ICOLD to use this new Code as a foundation for responsible corporate behaviour, and as a vehicle for putting into practice the WCD’s call on industry, with the support of governments and financial institutions, to “Develop projects in an open and transparent manner [that is] inclusive of all legitimate actors involved” (WCD Report, p. 211). Implementing this new approach to project development will at minimum require implementation of the Policy Principles elaborated in Chapter 8 of the WCD’s report. Specifically, the following Policy Principles should be incorporated into the Code of Ethics:
- Achieve demonstrable public acceptance through informed, open and transparent negotiations that lead to binding and formal agreements. (PPs 1.1-1.3)
- In the case of indigenous groups, guide processes by free, prior and informed consent. Informed consent requires making environmental and social information available in local languages. (PP 1.4)
- Conduct transparent and participatory comprehensive assessments of needs and options, prior to the selection of any specific development plan, that result in a full range of possible policy, technical and institutional choices that meet the needs of communities. (PPs 2..1-2.2)
- Recognize that equal weight should be put on social, environmental, technical, and economic factors in the assessment process. (PP 2.3)
- Build post-project monitoring, evaluation and periodic reviews of the benefits and impacts of dams into licensing agreements, and set aside appropriate resources to meet these challenges. (PP 3.1)
- Modernize and upgrade existing facilities, and introduce measures to address outstanding social issues and strengthen outstanding environmental mitigation and reparation claims linked to existing dams, and act upon them. (PP 3.2-3.4)
- Recognize the entitlements of rights holder and risk bearers to “negotiate mutually agreed, formal and legally enforceable mitigation, resettlement and development entitlements” and to be the first to share in the benefits of the project. (PPs 5.1-5.4)
ICOLD is far behind other industry sectors in its failure to adopt a Code of Ethics. As Geoff Sims, then Vice President of ICOLD, noted in his response to the Commission’s report in November 2000: “The Report is the nearest we have to global guidelines for the development of projects involving larger dams. To avoid the waste involved with the bitter arguments of the past we have a duty to adapt our working methods to conform to the guidelines WCD have revealed”.
We urge you to use the occasion of ICOLD’s 21st Congress to adopt the WCDpolicy principles and to lay out a plan of action to ensure industry compliance with them.
|Fraser Reilly-King Peter
NGO Working Group on EDC, International Rivers Network,
Dra. Anna Petra Roge de Marzolini
Elisangela Soldatelli Paim
Akong Charles Ndika
Patrick Obel Okeli
David B. Brooks
Dr. Richard Tavarov
Pimicikamak Cree Nation
Friends of the Earth France
Jorge Varela Marquez
Ben E.T. Van-Tonder
Jose Luis Aguilar Garcia
Anabela Lemso and
Ganga Prasad Subedi
Gopal Siwakoti ‘Chintan’
Hope E. Ogbeide
Dr. Anthony E. Ogbeibu
For more information, please contact Marcos Orellana.
|Rev. David Ugolor
African Network for Environmental and Economic Justice (ANEEJ)
Earthlife Africa Ethekwini
Benedict Chacha Peter
Bubelwa E Kaiza
Dr. Ute Collier
Sister Mary Turgi CSC
Manna Jo Greene
Marcos A. Orellana
Sister Ann Oestreich