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Recognizing Dams as a World Heritage Threat

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By Katy Yan, International Rivers | United States, Jun 30 2011


The UNESCO World Heritage Committee just concluded its 35th session in Paris, and for the activists and experts who worked long and hard to protect many dam-threatened World Heritage Sites, the results were a mixed bag.

In early June of this year, 18 organizations and individuals sent a letter to World Heritage Committee members urging them to list a number of threatened sites on the List of World Heritage In Danger.

Here are some of the recent decisions:


Free flowing rivers are at the heart of many of these sites and the reason why they are so beautiful, healthy and vibrant. Natural flows help maintain groundwater levels, nutrient flows to downstream fields, and fish migrations. Free flowing rivers are often also the last refuge for many endangered aquatic species. A host of other World Heritage Sites are currently threatened by dam building planned within and around their borders. 

The World Heritage Committee will publish further decisions on actions to take for these sites in the next couple of weeks. We hope that the Committee will commit to stronger actions to discourage dam-building impacts to our world's most treasured sites, and we will urge host country governments to step up their own protection measures.

We will update you on our efforts to continue fighting for the protection of Lake Turkana, Three Parallel Rivers, and other dam-threatened sites around the world. Stay tuned.

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