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United Nations Environment Programme


Dams and Development Project

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The World Commission On Dams

The World Commission on Dams Forum

The reference group of 39 people that formed part of the establishment of the Commission was reconstituted as the WCD Forum, which was expanded later to 68 organisations while maintaining the balance of perspectives. The Forum provided the WCD with a unique mechanism for consultation and collaboration involving all stakeholder groups.

The Forum offered a consultation model that works at a somewhat different level than other forms of consultation. It was seen as a ''sounding board" for the work of the Commission and not intended as a steering committee. Since the Commission was facilitating debate on the complex issue of the development effectiveness of dams the Forum members helped to build ownership of the work of the Commission amongst a broader, larger range of constituencies.

The summary of the first Forum meeting were captured in the Interim Report (July 1999), and the WCD compiled full proceedings of the 2nd and 3rd Forum meetings. These reports are available as part of the knowledge base on the CD-ROM.

Prague, March 1998

The first Forum meeting held in March 1999 in Prague assisted the WCD to formalise the interaction between its members and the Commission. The Forum members also provided the Commission with direction and focus in the development of the work programme and many members continued to actively contribute to the various WCD activities throughout the life of the Commission.

Cape Town, April 2000

The Forum met for the second time in Cape Town, South Africa in April 2000. 56 representatives of the Forum's 68 member institutions based in 34 countries attended the meeting. The two-day gathering brought together governments, non-governmental organisations involved in environmental and social activism, international professional bodies dealing with irrigation and dam building, development agencies, private engineering and construction firms, utilities, financial institutions, and UN organisations.

After an 18-month intense research phase, the World Commission on Dams passed a critical point in time in April when it wrapped up its work programme. In the weeks preceding the Cape Town meeting the Forum members were provided with access to 128 studies and other documents produced by or for the WCD in assembling the knowledge base that would underpin the Commission's final report.

The group provided an assurance mechanism that the WCD did a thorough survey of the nature and extent of important issues in the dams debate and provided further comments on specific findings and recommendations of the work programme. Working groups discussed key elements emerging from the work programme and concerns which later became important principles of the final report.

Spier, February 2001

After the WCD final report was published and stakeholders had an opportunity to study the Commission's findings and recommendations, Forum members met at their own request for the third time in February 2001. The purpose of the meeting was to provide feedback and examine ways in which they respond to, and promote implementation of the report's recommendations within and across constituencies. After extended discussions in the ensuing two days, members of the Forum agreed to work through their diverse governmental, private sector and civil society organisations and affiliations:

To ensure widespread dissemination and understanding of the report, its findings and recommendations, in particular within countries from the national to local level and among all sectors. Further translations of the report will be promoted.

To promote testing, refinement and adaptation in implementing the Commission's proposed guidelines in the varied practical contexts worldwide.

To promote dialogue, information exchange and networking in working with the WCD report.

Download the Spier Report [PDF 1,724 KB]

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