Share this:
02/16/1998 08:00:00

Caltech Anthropologist Named to World Commission on Dams

PASADENA—Thayer Scudder, a professor of anthropology at the California Institute of Technology, has been appointed to the World Commission on Dams. The announcement was made today in Cape Town, South Africa, during a press conference formally launching the commission.

The commission is being organized by the World Conservation Union and the World Bank to review the costs and benefits of large dams throughout the world. According to organizers, the matter is a source of controversy that can be addressed during the commission's two-year mandate.

"Proponents [of large dams] point to the social and economic development benefits that dams make possible, such as providing electric power, flood control, irrigation for agriculture, and water supply to growing towns and cities," the commission noted.

"Critics argue that project sponsors, public and private, systematically downplay the adverse environmental, social and economic impacts of dams," the commission continued.

The overall goals will be to review the development and effectiveness of dams and assess alternatives for water resources and energy development, and to develop internationally accepted standards, guidelines, and criteria for the planning, design, construction, monitoring, and decommissioning of dams.

Scudder, an authority on social issues associated with river–basin development, has worked on sustainable resource use in Africa as well as other parts of the world. His focus is on resettlement and social issues related to infrastructure development.

Scudder will be joined on the commission by 10 other social scientists, engineers, policy analysts, industrial leaders, environmentalists, and representatives of indigenous peoples.

Written by Robert Tindol