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Regional consultations

Regional consultations
In total 1,400 individuals from 59 countries took part in the 4 WCD regional consultations held for South Asia (December 1998), Latin America (August 1999), Africa and the Middle East (December 1999) as well as East & Southeast Asia (February 2000). The meetings were carefully organised to ensure broad-based participation by NGOs, governments,industry/utilities, irrigation interests, academics, financiers, and other interested parties. The WCD also participated in two hearings organised for its benefit by NGOs in Southern Africa (November 1999) and Europe (January 2000).

In December 1998 the WCD held its first regional consultation in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Thirty panelists representing governments, NGOs, utilities and affected people presented their submissions and approximately 200 people attended the two-day meeting.

The consultation was conducted in a spirit of openness and enquiry. The consultation achieved what it had set out as its goals - access to stakeholder input, wide representation of expertise, and learning from regional experiences in large dams and their alternatives - and set the precedent for the following meetings.

The WCD's Second Regional Consultation was convened for Latin America on 12-13 August 1999 in São Paulo, Brazil. Prior to the consultation the WCD received 80 submissions from which 31 were selected as presentations for delivery during the consultation. In line with the Commission's commitment to inclusive and broad-based participation, the presenters came from 12 countries on the continent and represented the full range of stakeholders in the debate including public officials, business leaders, officials from international development agencies, scholars, and representatives of NGOs and social movements. In total, 650 people attended the first day's sessions and over 250 attended the following day.

The regional consultation for Africa and the Middle East was co-hosted with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Cairo, Egypt. WCD's Africa-Middle East consultation on 8-9 December 1999 highlighted the implications of the dams debate for countries struggling to make urgent investments in water and energy resources for poverty alleviation and sustainable development. The Commissioners listened to and discussed 33 presentations from across Africa and the Middle East as to the costs and benefits of large dams as a development tool.

The WCD hosted its final regional consultation with financial support from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in Hanoi, Vietnam where various speakers from the East and South East Asia Region presented their experience of large dams directly to the Commission. The quality of presentations was exemplary, and has allowed the Commission to gain insights into the benefits and impacts of dams in East and Southeast Asia as well as some of the potential alternatives.

The regional consultations provided an effective forum for those with different perspectives in the debate to meet and better understand the reasoning and views of the parties. The issues that emerged via the regional consultations were:

Participation and transparency in planning and decision-making on dams; Brief11Feb04.doc
displacement, resettlement and reparation for those negatively affected by dams;

  • Dams as a way to satisfy demands for food, energy, drinking water, and flood control;
  • Assessing the costs and benefits of alternatives in providing irrigation, flood control, electricity and water supply;
  • The importance of environmental sustainability;
  • Regional/transboundary approaches to sharing water resources, and conflict resolution; and
  • How to ensure those engaged in dam building comply with regulations, laws, and policies.
    The proceedings of the 4 regional consultations and summaries of the presentations were published as separate reports and are available on the WCD website and CD-ROM.


The WCD has received 950 submissions from 79 countries via e-mail, fax and mail. Of those, 400 papers were submitted in relation to the regional consultations. All submissions were entered into a central database. They were catalogued along the lines of the thematic reviews, namely social-, environ-mental-, economic-, institutional issues, and options assessment. The cataloguing system permits sorting by issue, region, and country. The submissions database is available on the WCD website.

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