From the outset and by deliberate design, the WCD adopted a partnership approach in fulfilling its mandate. The World Bank and IUCN stepped back from their initial leadership role in establishing the Commission and did not attempt to influence the direction of the WCD, but remained active as core partners of the WCD.
These vital partnerships matured to include financial and institutional support, information exchange,facilitating funding from third parties, resource persons, as well as providing institutional support to the WCD in its translation and outreach activities across the globe.
The WCD's partner institutions' commitment to the WCD process and their decisive involvement as equal partners among various organisations has contributed to the WCD's success by empowering it to engage in a similar fashion with other stakeholders involved in the dams debate. Such openness and confidence exhibited by the leadership of these organisations greatly enhanced the WCD's perceived legitimacy and ability in undertaking its work programme and formulating recommendations.
Apart from contracted expertise and facilitated inputs through submissions and consultations, the WCD was privileged to formally collaborate with a number of important constituencies. The WCD fostered such partnerships with various organisations in order to learn from the experience and expertise on a wide range of issues related to large dams and water and energy resources management.
The WCD collaborated with:
- the Environmental Monitoring Group (to assist NGOs to participate in the WCD process);
the International Association on Impact Assessments;
- the International Commission on Large Dams (on technical issues related to large dams);
- the International Energy Agency (on the Implementing Agreement for Hydropower Technologies and Programmes);
- the International Rivers Network (to communicate with the various NGO networks);
- the IUCN - The World Conservation Union (environmental policy, WCD fiduciary responsibility, management support); Transparency International (on corruption and integrity of business transactions);
- the United Nations Environment Programme (on environmental aspects associated with large dams and mechanisms for financing sustainable development projects);
- the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (on dams and inland fisheries);
- the World Archaeological Congress (on dams and cultural heritage);
- the World Bank (on technical aspects, fundraising and networks of expertise); the World Health Organisation (on health impacts associated with dams);
- the World Resources Institute in association with Lawyers' Environmental Action Team (LEAT, Tanzania) and Lokayan (India) - on the relevance of the WCD process as a model for global public policy.
The WCD's multi-stakeholder nature and partnership approach permitted a global public policy process that overcame the constraints of unilateral and bilateral organisations. The WCD work programme covered 5 continents irrespective of political milieu, sectoral interest, administrative arrangement and power relations. This approach amplified the WCD's ability to collate a state of the art knowledge base, learn from experiences worldwide, and ultimately develop a common understanding of international experiences with large dams and associated options for water and energy resources management.