Thursday, December 23, 2010

Facing reality on dam development, according to a dam developer

Jia Jingsheng, head of an international dam organization, speaks out in favor of dams in International Water Power and Dam Construction: In 2001 the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD) issued its final comments about the World Commission on Dams’ report. In fact, the goals of dam construction that ICOLD insist upon aim to achieve the maximum possible benefits by minimising negative effects on social, environmental and ecological aspects, including cultural relics, through the full and rational utilisation of natural resources. The different kinds of schemes have to be carefully and thoroughly studied and screened by current regulations in order to attain a harmonious co-existence of mankind and nature. This idea can be viewed in various ICOLD bulletins and publications, and is something which is not significantly different from the goals mentioned in the WCD report.

However, the WCD report overlooked the huge benefits and improvements made on society and the environment by dam construction. And in many aspects, the 26 guidelines proposed in the report for the planning and implementation of future dams, don’t fully take into account the special conditions and the specific development phase of different countries. They are somewhat too idealistic. Therefore, it is inappropriate to require all countries and all international banking organisations to follow the same guidelines.

…Today, sustainable development and sustainability of the life in many parts of the world continue to be threatened by the scarcity of supplies of water, food and energy: 1.1B people are still lacking access to safe drinking water; 2.4B people are without the service of sanitation; and 2B people are waiting for electricity supply. We need more water and energy on one the hand; we need blue sky and clean water on the other. Multi-purpose dams and reservoirs are vital for human development.

…More and more people are recognising that water resources development is essential to achieve sustainable development. Insufficient water storage facilities will delay our ability to respond to global changes and to meet the Millennium Development Goals. In this context, a developing country has more urgent need for water storage facility development as the construction of water storage facilities is not only a crucial matter relating to economic development but also to survival and the alleviation of poverty….

Water intake tubes at Itaipu Dam in Brazil and Paraguay, shot by Wutzofant, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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