Hydropower Back on the Agenda – are we any better at making decisions around large dams?

In their latest report, Watered Down? A review of social and environmental safeguards for large dam projects, IUCN Member IIED review the current resurgence of interest in large dams.

DAM Photo: Thanyapat Wanitchanon_Shutterstock

The report looks at the new financing mechanisms that have evolved since the World Commission on Dams in 2000, including carbon trading. The report highlights a worrying estimate – that only 10-15% of new hydropower dams around the world are covered by any dam-specific international environmental and social safeguard processes.

The majority of dams today are built under national legislation, which is often not able to cope with the scale of impacts from dams. The report further highlights that China has become the largest single financer of hydropower in developing countries – and yet it has no explicit safeguard policy.

Only 40% of the hydropower dam projects supported by the World Bank in Africa meet the Bank’s own safeguards at ‘satisfactory’ or ‘better’ grades. Furthermore, the report highlights challenges in adequately implementing EU Linking Directive guidance for large hydropower projects wanting to access carbon credits from the EU emissions Trading Scheme.

Read the IIED report here:

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