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The World Commission On Dams

Milestones and Scheduling

The Commission functioned for approximately 2.5 years from May 1998 to November 2000. The Commission was established in the months prior to May 1998 through a multi-stakeholder process involving a sub-committee of the Reference Group and the support of an interim secretariat.

A.Pre-Commission Phase:

Appointment of Chair Sep 1997

Appointment of Commissioners Feb 1998

Selection of Secretary General Mar 1998

B.Start-up Phase:

Establishment of Secretariat May - Sep 1998

Development of strategy and work programme Jun - Oct 1998

C.Implementation Phase:

Fieldwork programme initiated Oct 1998

Review Activities completed Mar 2000

D.Synthesis Phase:

Draft Synthesis Reports prepared Mar 2000

Final Report and Recommendations Sep 2000

E.Dissemination and Process Review:

Global & Regional Launch Events Nov - Dec 2000

Global Dissemination Activities Oct - Mar 2001

Progress in terms of the work programme of the WCD was monitored through regular Commission meetings and on a daily basis and worldwide by its numerous stakeholders, including the members of the original Reference Group, the WCD Forum and partner organisations.

The Secretariat of the Commission published regular newsletters, progress reports and information briefs, which were disseminated on the Internet and by air mail (where appropriate). Drafts of case study reports and thematic reviews were posted on the web as they reached key stages of development. In addition, individual progress reports (narrative and financial) were provided to financial contributors on a 6-monthly basis or per agreement. By December 1999 it was clear that the agreed target date of June 2000 for completion of the final report was not attainable and a six month extension was agreed. The schedule overrun was due to:

  • Extensive negotiations with national governments in the selection and confirmation of the case study dams due to the political nature of these large projects. In two cases preliminary decisions to support the WCD case study process were reversed after the projects were initiated. This required lengthy intervention by Commissioners and Secretariat staff alike.
  • From a practical point of view, the stated objective of the World Commission on Dams to ensure that a balanced perspective was captured in all the components of its work programme, made the selection of consultants and composition of review panels a complex and time-consuming process.
  • The short delivery schedules for contributors also placed immense pressure on them, with some delivery dates for individual reports having to be postponed.
  • Financially, cash flow constraints as a result of delayed transfers from financial contributors at times caused the postponement of individual activities or made the payment of consultant fees very difficult, putting the WCD at risk of not honouring its contractual obligations.
    The Commission reached consensus on its findings and recommendations at its final meeting in August 2000 and the final report was published in November 2000.

Although the Commission was officially disbanded as intended at the launch of its report in November 2000, Commissioners and Secretariat agreed to a 6-month dissemination phase from October 2000 to March 2001*. The purpose of the dissemination phase was to present the findings and recommendations of the Commission to its stakeholders, as well as to facilitate the 3rd Forum meeting that was requested by its members (section 2.2.2).

* Footnote: On request of the WCD Forum the Chair agreed to a 7-month transition phase from April to October 2001 to facilitate the establishment of the Dams and Development Unit.


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