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Development organisation calls for moratorium on new dams

The Berne Declaration is opposed to the construction of the Three Gorges Dam in China

(Keystone Archive)

A Swiss non-governmental organisation has called for a moratorium on the planning and construction of large dams.

It follows the release of a report by the World Commission on Dams (WCD), which concludes that large dams are often uneconomic and harmful to the environment.

In a statement released on Friday, the Berne Declaration said the WCD report vindicated many of the concerns raised by NGOs.

The WCD report argued that large dams had a huge social and environmental impact and tended to benefit the well-off at the expense of poorer sectors of society. It called for fundamental changes to the way water and energy projects are planned and carried out.

The Berne Declaration's spokesman, Peter Bosshard, urged public financial institutions, including the World Bank, to adopt the recommendations included in the report. One of the key recommendations is that no dam should be built without the consent or acceptance of the local community.

Speaking in Zurich, Bosshard called for a moratorium on funding new dams and a review of major projects already underway - including the highly controversial Three Dams Project in China - to establish whether they comply with the WCD recommendations.

In addition, he said financial institutions should assume responsibility for unresolved problems and pay compensation to people whose way of life has been harmed by the construction of large dams.

The Berne Declaration was formed in 1968 to promote equitable, sustainable and democratic North-South relations.

swissinfo with agencies

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