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This is a study that anti-dam organizations won’t tell you about. Because it weakens most of their critics portraying dams as powerful agents of river destruction.
That study suggests on the contrary that large dams provide “ecological and engineering resilience” to climate change in the Columbia River basin.
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United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, following consultations with the Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), wrote to the President of the General Assembly requesting the General Assembly to confirm Achim Steiner of Germany as the new Administrator of UNDP for a term of four years. The General Assembly confirmed the nomination on 19 April.
The 55-year-old Brazil-born German citizen has been in the trenches of environmental activism since before his service at the UN, including work with the Washington-based International Union for Conservation of Nature.
He’s even devoted his professional life – for example, while working as secretary general of the World Commission on Dams (WCD) – to pet projects.
A commentator said : “In 2000, the WCD published a report showing how reservoirs posed dangers to the environment despite their importance for development. Notable for its holistic and sustainable approach, it is this viewpoint that Steiner brings to his new office.” (our emphasis).
The UN had been considering other candidates, not just Steiner. France’s environmental minister, Segolène Royal, was a final contender – and noticeably unhappy about the UN’s selection. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had actually promised the job to a woman, Royal said. She speculated that the UN tapped Steiner due to Germany’s role as an important donor for the UNDP, which relies on (voluntary) donations from individual nations.
Mr Steiner was Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme between 2006 and 2016. He previously served as Director-General of the United Nations Office in Nairobi from 2009 to 2011, Director-General of the International Union for Conservation of Nature from 2001 to 2006, and as Secretary-General of the World Commission on Dams, in South Africa, from 1998 to 2001.
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Dam Failure in Laos
The International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD) is following the situation very closely as information is just coming out about the collapse of the saddle dam at the Xe Pian Xe Namnoy Hydroelectric Dam, in Laos.
ICOLD newly elected President Michael Rogers made the following statement:
“Our deepest condolences go out to the people of Laos impacted by this tragedy, especially those families who have lost loved ones and/or their homes.
Dams are critical pieces of not only physical, but also socio-economic infrastructure that supply renewable power, storage for agricultural, industrial, municipal and community water supply. Like other large infrastructure in our societies, dams provide critical service, but also pose high risks that must be addressed during the planning, design and construction phases. The precautionary principle of dams to prevent and/or mitigate adverse downstream safety consequences informs and is at the heart of the ICOLD Mission.
ICOLD has been working for 90 years to promote the safe and sustainable design and construction of dams. As an organization of 100 nations committed to the safety of all dams around the world, ICOLD stands ready to assist and support the project owner and the national dam safety organization in Laos to assess the situation and work towards recovery. Moving forward, it will be important to understand the full cause of this apparent failure so that important lessons may be shared with other nations and dam owners. This is the heart of ICOLD mission and the main reason why it was founded. For example, during its recent Congress in Vienna (July 1-7 2018), ICOLD organized an important open workshop on the lessons learned from the Oroville Spillway Incident (USA, 2017).
Again, our heartfelt condolences go out to the thousands of persons downstream of this dam that have been impacted by this tragedy and ICOLD stands ready to support Laos in any way possible.”
Oroville Dam, ICOLD President intervenes on the radio
By Michael Rogers and Emmanuel Grenier
Aerial View of the Oroville Dam (photo by California Department of Water Resources)
There is now a rush to repair the spillways at the Oroville Dam in Northern California and lower the water level in Lake Oroville before rain arrives again. It is feared that damage to an emergency spillway could dump large amounts of water into the Feather River, which runs through downtown Oroville. This fear led to the evacuation of nearly 200 000 people living under the lake. The main dam (235m high) was never in danger and remains safe. The Oroville Dam issue started with an unexplained structural failure of a lower part of the 3000-foot-long gated service spillway.
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