The Ilisu dam in Turkey and the role of export credit agencies and NGO networks

(2010) This paper from Christine Eberlein (Berne Declaration), Heike Drillisch (CounterCurrent), Ercan Ayboga (Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive) and Thomas Wenidoppler (ECA Watch Austria) analyses the actions of three ECAs in relation to the Ilisu dam in Turkey, and explores the roles of NGOs within the process of achieving best practice.

Abstract: The World Commission on Dams (WCD) report focused attention on the question of how those displaced by large dams can be adequately compensated and properly resettled. An important debate from the Dams and Development Forum concerned the appropriate roles of different stakeholders, and the question as to how governments and 'external stakeholders' such as international institutions, financial investors and non-government organisations (NGOs) can be encouraged to implement the WCD recommendations and international standards on resettlement and environmental protection. This article analyses the actions of three European Export Credit Agencies (ECAs) aimed at improving the outcomes of the Ilisu Dam and hydroelectric power project in Kurdish-populated southeast of Turkey. It also explores the role of NGOs within the process of achieving best practice and preventing poor outcomes. Even though the ECAs’ efforts to meet World Bank project standards were unsuccessful and ended in July 2009 with their withdrawal, this was the first case in history where ECAs tried to implement specified social and environmental project conditions. This article aims ultimately to analyse the reasons for the failure to meet the ECAs’ conditions, and the lessons to be learned from this process.

First published in Water Alternatives 3(2): 291-312

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