An Examination of China's Three Gorges Dam Project Based on the Framework Presented in the Report of The World Commission on Dams
Allin, Samuel Robert Fishleigh
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This paper views China's Three Gorges Dam (TGD) Project in light of The World Commission on Dams (WCD) Report, Dams and Development: A New Framework for Decision Making (2000). A brief overview is given on the current state of dambuilding, the process used by the WCD in writing Dams and Development, and general technical aspects of China's TGD. I then examine the major social, environmental and economic factors associated with the TGD Project as they relate to relevant sections of the WCD report, government documents and other sources. Analysis of the TGD based on the World Commission on Dams' Seven Strategic Priorities and Five Key Decision Points shows that an insufficient and improper process was used for planning China's Three Gorges Dam. The primary finding of this paper is that the TGD was planned with a non-participatory approach. The proposal for a dam at the Three Gorges site took shape 80 years ago and has since been in the plans of the Chinese government. When construction of the dam finally became technologically and economically feasible, the political momentum behind the project made participatory needs assessment and thorough consideration of social and environmental issues secondary. This paper serves as an example of using the WCD Report as a basis for evaluating a large-scale water resource project. This analysis may also serve as a comparison for similar evaluations of large-scale water resource projects in other areas of the world and in the future to assess possible changes in China's water resource policies over time.