WWF's Global Freshwater Programme uses a scientific process that recognizes the tradeoffs between the role of dams and water abstractions for water and energy development, and their detrimental effects on biodiversity, ecosystem services and riparian livelihoods.
The work includes:
- Conducting environmental flow assessments and developing related guidelines
- Promoting sustainable dams, hydropower and other water infrastructure
- Influencing decision makers to integrate environmental water needs into national laws and polices while allowing equitable water allocation
- Integrating environmental water needs into river basin polices and plans
Practical guidance for strategic water management
It is estimated that half the world's population will live in water-stressed areas by 2025, and floods already cause billions of dollars worth of damage each year. Better planning and management of river basins is needed urgently to reduce further pressure on our planet and its inhabitants.
WWF worked in partnership with the General Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Planning and Design, Chinese Ministry of Water Resources, Asian Development Bank and UNESCO to produce a series of technical publications that bring together experiences and lessons from around the globe on how to better plan and manage our precious water resources.
The books offer guidance on how to allocate water resource effectively to meet competing demands while ensuring environmental needs are still met, and how to reconcile the many competing demands for water resources within a basin.
Summaries can be found on the right of this page, and the complete books are available for download from WWF-UK
Rivers have been dammed to meet people’s needs since early history, but construction of large and very large dams increased spectacularly in the second half of the 20th century. Dams are planned and built for water storage and abstractions (mainly for agricultural and urban use/consumption), hydropower, navigation and flood protection.
Dam projects often trigger significant land-use changes, infrastructure
development and socioeconomic changes. While many dams have brought significant benefits, they have also caused environmental damage, contributed to the decline in freshwater biodiversity and threatened the livelihoods of people in the wider basin.
WWF helped develop the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol
to measure and guide environmental and social performance in the hydropower sector.