Press Release - Monday, March 13, 2002

EDC criticized on International Day of Action Against Dams and for Rivers
Canadian organizations call on Export Development Canada to change new, weak environmental policy
For Immediate Release
Ottawa, March 13, 2002. Export Development Canada (EDC) needs to adopt recommendations of World Commission on Dams, as its new environmental policy, the Environmental Review Directive (ERD) falls short of this international standard to protect dam-affected people. As communities around the world prepare to take part in tomorrow's fifth annual International Day of Action Against Dams and for Rivers, Water, and Life, a Canadian coalition of environment, development, and labour groups say EDC should halt support for dams until recommendations from the World Commission on Dams (WCD) are fully implemented.
"By ignoring WCD recommendations, EDC will continue to support dam projects that are economically, socially and environmentally unviable. The new environmental policy needs to be changed so that Canadians can know that EDC is not lending recklessly," says Melanie Quevillon, Coordinator of the NGO Working Group on the EDC.
EDC has been involved in controversial dam projects around the world that have created a legacy of profound negative economic, social and environmental impacts on the communities affected by the dams. Equally disturbing are human rights violations associated with these projects.
"People in northern Colombia are still experiencing lasting effects of the devastation caused by the Urrá dam that EDC helped to finance", says Kathy Price of KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, a church organization that conducted an on-site visit to the area to document conditions. "Embera Katio indigenous communities continue to suffer from the flooding of their land, loss of livelihood, and food security, and an increase mosquitoes that has coincided with an epidemic of malaria and dengue. Meanwhile, the abduction of leader Kimy Pernia by gunmen last June, and death threats against other leaders who have called attention to the impact of the dam, have created a climate of terror. We believe Canadians do not want investments that help to create such a situation."
The World Commission on Dams (WCD) report, released in November 2000, was written by industry, government and civil society leaders. The recommendations set out a new framework for decisions on dam building in developing countries, with a clear methodology for assessment of large-scale hydro-projects. In contrast, EDC's new environmental policy released December 21, 2001 has no clear or transparent assessment standards allowing it to get involved in any project, irrespective of the impacts.
For more information: contact Mel Quevillon at the Halifax Initiative, 613-789-4447. Further information on the March 14 International Day of Action can be found at