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First Ever Meeting of the Dams and Development Forum

Nairobi, 8-9 July 2002 - Around 80 people, drawn from a broad range of backgrounds, attended the first ever meeting of the Dams and Development Forum. The Forum, representing governments, affected and indigenous peoples, utilities, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, financing institutions and other agencies, professional associations, researchers and groups working on alternatives to dams, is a key part of the recently established Dams and Development Project (DDP).

The Project was set up by UNEP last year in the wake of the report of the World Commission on Dams (WCD). The stated goal of the DDP is "to promote a dialogue on improving decision-making, planning and management of dams and their alternatives based on the WCD core values and strategic priorities".

This week's meeting considered issues such as developing a work programme for the DDP and developing guidance for the Forum's Steering Committee and UNEP.

The discussions form the basis for the direction of the DDP over the following year and describe the expected outcomes towards which the Steering Committee, UNEP and the DDP will strive. During the working sessions, delegates considered specific follow-up actions they can initiate within their own spheres of influence and identified the nature of support required from the DDP.

Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of UNEP, said it was essential to continue the work that the WCD started through a "process of discussion and the exchange of ideas between all sides of the dams debate".

"We need to include everyone with an interest in dams in this process which is why we supported and established the Dams and Development Project. We aim to ensure that this body is active, imaginative and, above all, neutral in its day to day operation," he added.

The meeting came in advance of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) which opens on 26 August in Johannesburg, South Africa. One issue here will be how to develop and implement so called Type II Projects between the private sector civil society and others in areas such as water, health and agriculture.

Mr. Toepfer told delegates at the Forum meeting that the Dams and Development Project, by bringing together so many disparate parties to work together on such a controversial and complex subject as dams, "was in many ways a blueprint or pilot for how such Type II Projects might work".

Notes to Editors: Reactions to the WCD report have been both positive and negative. It was the work of 12 independent Commissioners from all sides of the dams debate who gave their view of past performance and a way forward for the future. Since the report's launch in November 2000, there has been significant debate within countries and organisations around the world. Overall, there has been considerable support for the core values and strategic priorities of the WCD.

Conflicts over dam projects are however still intense. The focus in this follow-on phase is shifting from global to national discussions on the way forward and each country is responsible for determining its own response. The role of the DDP is to support these processes where requested and to encourage the multi-stakeholder character of the discussions leading to context specific proposals for policy and procedural reforms.

The Forum meeting will be followed by a meeting of the DDP Steering Committee to translate the guidance given by the multi-stakeholder groups into specific actions for the DDP.

The offices of the DDP are located at:UNEP Dams and Development Project, P.O. Box 16002 Vlaeberg, Cape Town 8018,South Africa

Tel:27-21-426 4000; Fax:27-21-426 0036;email:

For More Information Please Contact: Nick Nuttall, Acting Director, UNEP Division of Communications and Public Information and UNEP Head of Media, on Tel: 254 2 623084, Mobile: 254 733 632755 or E-mail:

UNEP Information Note 2002/22