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The World Commission On Dams

The DDP Phase 2: February 2005-April 2007

The decision by UNEP to undertake a second phase of the Dams and Development Project was based on the positive recommendation of the Steering Committee and donors following an external evaluation of Phase 1 completed in February 2004. The evaluation recommended a time bound extension to fully develop the project objectives and it also provided direction to better streamline the goal, objectives, work programme and governance of the next phase including actions to improve the costs effectiveness of the DDP Secretariat.

Building on the outcomes and experiences from the first phase and backstopped by the substantial support of donors, Steering Committee and UNEP, DDP Phase 2 (2005-2006) was established in February 2005. It was aimed at further promoting dialogue and producing recommendations on policy as well as facilitating the development of tools to improve decision making and best practices for water and energy management.

Goal, Objectives and Work Programme

Goal: To promote improved decision-making, planning and management of dams and their alternatives building on WCD core values and strategic priorities and other relevant reference materials.


  • Support multi-stakeholder dialogues at country-level, regional and global levels on improving decision making on dams and their alternatives with the aim of engaging all stakeholders with emphasis on governments.
  • Produce non prescriptive tools drawing on all relevant existing bodies of criteria and guidelines for planning and management of dams and their alternatives, which can help decision makers.

To support these main objectives, DDP Phase 2 would:

  • Further strengthen interaction and networking among participants in the dams debate.
  • Further disseminate information on activities, processes and outcomes of national, regional and global dialogues on dams and development.
  • Further disseminate, tailored to a country and regional basis, the WCD report and the report of the Third WCD Forum, and make available other stakeholders' responses.
  • Further facilitate the flow of information and advice concerning initiatives relevant to dams and development in partnership with other appropriate organisations.

The mandate of DDP Phase 2 excludes it from taking positions or making judgements on individual projects or associated practices.

Major activities, key outcomes and results

The summary below presents the major activities undertaken, key outcomes and results from the project. More details on the lessons learned, challenges encountered, future prospects and recommendations are captured in the Final Report of Phase 2.

National dialogues

National dialogues activities and processes took place in over 20 developed and developing countries throughout the life span of DDP. In Phase 2, national dialogue processes were launched in Ghana, Nigeria, Togo, and Uganda, while others continued to make progress such as in RSA, Nepal and Sweden. The processes aimed at raising awareness on dam issues and producing broadly agreed recommendations on improving the frameworks and practices in the planning and management of dams. The processes varied and depended on the local situation.

Some of the key outputs from these processes were:

  • an improved generic process for national dialogues;
  • increased awareness on the WCD analytical framework, the DDP knowledge base and dams and development issues;
  • bringing persons of diverse views on dams and development together for discussions and networking;
  • and recommendations to improve frameworks and practices filling gaps and addressing local needs.

The dialogues inspired other countries and regions to pursue this approach. UNEP was explicitly requested by stakeholders to put in place a mechanism to support and monitor national dialogue processes.

Global Dialogue

In the course of DDP, the global dialogue took place in the form of the Dams and Development Forum annual meetings, Issue-based workshops and the DDP multistakeholder side-events at international meetings. The global dialogue aimed at clarifying contentious issues; reaching consensus on substance; and providing opportunities to exchange experiences and network.

A total of five Dams and Development Forum meetings were convened since 2001, of these two took place in Phase 2. The 4th Forum meeting held in 2005 reviewed progress in national dialogues; prioritized the issues to be included into the Compendium; and approved the methodology for elaborating the Compendium. The 5th Forum meeting held in 2006 provided comments on the draft Compendium; reviewed diverse approaches promoting the consideration of social and environmental issues in the development of dams; assessed the impacts and relevancy of national dialogues; and provided recommendations on the way forward beyond DDP.

Five Issue-based workshops were organized during DDP. Of these, only ‘Gaining Public Acceptance’ was held in Phase 2 (October 2005) due to time constraints and the shift in focus to non-prescriptive tools. The main aim of these workshops was to clarify the WCD Strategic Priorities for consideration at national level. A set of concrete recommendations emerged from the workshop on ‘Gaining Public Acceptance’.

During Phase 2, the side events were organized by DDP at two international meetings: at the African Ministerial Conference on Hydropower and Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg, RSA in March 2006 and at the 4th World Water Forum held in Mexico City, Mexico also in March 2006. DDP messages were communicated to the broader public and developments in the dams and development debate were ascertained.

At the Conference on Hydropower, African Water and Energy Ministers endorsed the need to address social and environmental issues in the development of hydropower and an Action Plan to enhance their consideration. At the side event at the 4th World Water Forum, a sense of general agreement emerged that both large and small scale infrastructure measures play a role in meeting the world’s needs of water and energy and complement one another. What is needed is careful planning.

The stakeholders recommended that the global dialogue be sustained beyond DDP. UNEP was requested to organize these meetings annually with the support of an advisory multistakeholder group.

Practical tools

During both Phases, the DDP work also largely focused on the development of the three practical information tools:

  • Database of experiences and lessons learned;
  • Inventory of normative frameworks;and

  • the Compendium of relevant practices.

The effort of producing them responded to the need to further clarify the WCD Strategic Priorities for use in national dialogues and in improving frameworks and capacity building.

The online database of experiences and lessons learnt was established in Phase 1. It was enriched in Phase 2 with examples collected during the compilation of the Compendium.

The online inventory of normative frameworks was developed in Phase 2 as the initial step of developing the Compendium on relevant practices. The information on frameworks captured in the development of the Compendium on relevant practices enriched this tool.

The Compendium of relevant practices was the major output of Phase 2. It deals with nine key issues on the planning and management of dams:

  • Stakeholder participation; Identification of options;
  • Addressing outstanding social issues;
  • Environmental management plans; Compensation policy;
  • Social impact assessment; Benefit sharing;
  • Compliance mechanisms;and
  • International policy on shared river basins.

The document characterizes these key issues and provides information on how the key elements of these issues are captured in normative frameworks and handled in practice based on selected case studies. It is supported by detailed Reports on the nine issues accessible for commenting.

The Compendium was published and is available online for download or purchase through the UNEP online bookstore.

Communication and Reporting

Communication and reporting were incorporated into DDP’s Work Programme for purposes of enhancing the impact of the project. Further, the evolving nature of the dams debate and associated processes required constant communication with stakeholders.

The communication strategy was revised in Phase 2. The strategy identified approaches to be pursued, streamlined internal processes, outlined mechanisms for delivering messages, activities and timelines.

DDP developed guidelines for translating key documents into other languages. The WCD Final Report is available in 5 languages while the WCD Overview is available in 14 languages. During Phase 2, the Report was translated into French. At the 5th DD Forum a request was made to translate the Compendium into other languages.

The DDP website was launched in April 2004. It was maintained throughout Phase 2 by a DDP focal point backstopped by the Internet Unit of DCPI. The website has a number of interactive tools. It played an important part during the consultation phase of the Compendium. Statistics were collected to monitor reference to DDP information.

DPP employed other communication means: Information sheets, Brochure, Posters, Reports and the ‘Confluence’ newsletter . Information materials (Information sheets and Posters) were revised and updated in Phase 2. A new brochure was developed. The ‘Confluence’ newsletter was published bi-annually. All these materials were widely disseminated.

The Final Project Report was produced in April 2007 while the Interim Report was prepared in 2006. The regular progress reports were prepared and presented at the Steering Committee, GACG and Forum meetings. The Reports of Proceedings of meetings were also compiled and circulated.


The performance of the DDP in its various activities and the quality of its products were assessed by stakeholders at the 5th Dam and Development Forum. The majority expressed their satisfaction at how DDP had been executed. The value of the whole effort was confirmed by the desire of stakeholders to see continuity to some of the project processes and to promote the use of some of its outputs. Some stakeholders requested to build on the lessons learnt from the process thus illustrating the value of the experiment.

The debate on dams and development carried out during DDP Phase 1 and 2, indicates some strong shift departing from a polarized discussion on ‘whether dams should be built or not’, to a discussion now around ‘how to build a good dam’ when it comes out that it is the preferred option. A more holistic approach of considering alternatives as complementary measures rather than mutually exclusive approaches also emerged from the global dialogue. The dams and development community is now more inclined to discuss issues in a more amicable and constructive manner with the view of reaching consensus. The discussion is now much more sober and focused on how to meet water and energy needs sustainably.

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