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The Dams and Development Project

The Dams and Development Project (DDP) is a follow-up activity of the World Commission on Dams (WCD). It is a time-bound initiative that ends in April 2007.

At its inception, DDP was tasked with promoting a process of analyzing national contexts against the WCD core values and strategic priorities to identify conformities and gaps and, subsequently, needs for policy and procedural reforms. Such analysis results in a set of recommendations to governments and other stakeholders seeking their adoption and implementation. Around 20 countries both in developed and developing world have carried out multistakeholder dialogue activities and processes over the last 5 years of the project implementation. More »

In Phase 2, the goal of the project has expanded to promoting improved decision-making, planning and management related to dams and their alternatives. Further, from focusing on influencing policies and procedures only, the project, in response to the identified needs through Phase 1, has moved to more ambitious and comprehensive objectives of strengthening normative frameworks and building managerial capacities. Thus, the project has actively promoted global, regional and national multi-stakeholder dialogues, as well as worked on the elaboration of non-prescriptive practical tools. Five Dams and Development Forum meetings, five issue-based workshops and a Compendium on Relevant Practices for Improved Decision making on Dams, among many other achievements, attest to that. The DDP Implementation Concept.

In doing this, DDP responds to and influences the challenging context around dams and development:

  • There are more than 45,000 large dams around the world. Some 30 to 40 % of irrigated land world-wide relies on dams and large dams are estimated to support 12 to 16 % of global food production. Hydropower supplies 17% of global electricity production. Renewable energy is expected to meet about 18 per cent of the growth in electricity demand by the year 2030.  More than half of this would come from new hydropower projects.
  • While it is recognised that dams have delivered many benefits and made a significant contribution to human development, their social and environmental impacts have also been very significant. The WCD process undertook an extensive review of the performance and development practices of dams and identified deficits in handling social and environmental aspects and lack of meaningful stakeholder participation. The Commission proposed a new decision-making framework to deal with the issue.
  • Water and energy are essential prerequisites for growth, poverty alleviation and the achievement of internationally agreed development goals. Strategies for sustainable water resources use and energy generation help to eradicate extreme poverty, promote gender equality, improve the health of women and children, and ensure environmental sustainability. This, as UNEP believes, is the foundation which humankind’s long-term development ultimately rests on.
  • Dams are one of a number of options to meet increasing demands and a major feature in water and energy development. However, lessons from the past show that their contribution to sustainable development should be carefully planned and managed taking into account environmental and social issues. Decisions to build a dam should be made on the basis of the assessment of the full range of options available to meet specific needs, through an informed and participatory decision-making process involving all stakeholders together with affected and vulnerable groups.

At this final stage of the project, it is a good time to reflect on its results and achievements. Download the Interim Report, Phase 2 for further details.

UNEP-DDP SECRETARIAT
P.O. Box 30552, Nairobi, Kenya.
Tel: +254 20 7623891 Fax: +254 20 7624763
ddpinfo@unep.org

Further resources:
About DDP
World Commission on Dams
Lessons and achievements of the DDP process
Practical non-prescriptive tools
Promoting dialogues
DDP Publications

UNEP