NGOs as Strategic Actors in the Promotion of Sustainable Dam Development

  • Sara Eichert


Considering the heterogeneity of actors and strategies employed in transnational advocacy networks, as well as the modern governance debate where some activists express their concern about the power shift away from government towards the private sector, this chapter explores the various strategies non-governmental organisations (NGOs) use to persuade private actors to promote sustainable dam development and considers why some NGOs choose to adopt a more or less collaborative attitude towards the dam industry. It analyses the strategies of two international NGOs in a recent industry-driven, multi-stakeholder dialogue, the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Forum (HSAF), and their positions on its outcome, the 2010 International Hydropower Association’s Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol. The analysis suggests that ideological differences might account for the choice of more or less collaborative approaches.


International Rivers Forum Process Transnational Advocacy Network Hydropower Industry World Water Council 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Ählström J, Sjöström E (2005) CSOs and business partnerships: strategies for interaction. Bus Strategy Environ 14:230–240CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Austin JE (2000) Strategic collaboration between nonprofits and businesses. Nonprofit Voluntary Sector Q 29:69–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Atzl A (2012) Transnational NGO-networks campaign against the Ilisu Dam, Turkey. In: Scheumann W, Hensengerth O (eds) Evolution of dam policies. Evidence from the big hydropower states. Springer, HeidelbergGoogle Scholar
  4. Bosshard P (2009a) A giant step back from current rights and standards. A critique of the key components document of the hydropower sustainability assessment forum, March 2009. Accessed 23 Aug 2012
  5. Bosshard P (2009b) The dam industry’s brave new world. Accessed 24 Aug 2012
  6. Brunnengräber A (2001) Offensive des Lächelns. Die NGOs und das Dilemma der Klimaverhandlungen – Vom konflikt- zum konsensorientierten Akteur. Der Freitag, 22 January 2001. Accessed 17 July 2012
  7. Brühl T (2009) Nichtregierungsorganisationen als Akteure internationaler Umweltverhandlungen. Ein Erklärungsmodell auf der Basis der situationsspezifischen Ressourcennachfrage. Campus Verlag, Frankfurt, New York:Google Scholar
  8. Den Hond F, De Bakker FGA (2007) Ideologically motivated activism: how activist groups influence corporate social change activities. Acad Manag Rev 32:901–924CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dobner P (2010) Wasserpolitik. Suhrkamp Verlag, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  10. Doh JP, Newburry WE, Teegen H (2003) Cooperative strategies in environmental nongovernmental organisations. In: Doh JP, Teegen H (eds) Globalization and NGOs. Transforming business, government, and society. Praeger, Westport, CT, pp 65–80Google Scholar
  11. Doh JP, Teegen H (2003) Preface: globalization and NGO—why should we care? In: Doh JP, Teegen H (eds) Globalization and NGOs. Transforming business, government, and society. Praeger, Westport, CTGoogle Scholar
  12. Finnemore M, Sikkink K (1998) International norm dynamics and political change. Int Org 52(4):887–917CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Florini AM (2000) (ed) The third force: the rise of transnational civil society. Carnegie endowment for international peace. Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  14. Glasbergen P, Groenenberg R (2001) Environmental partnerships in sustainable energy. Eur Environ 11:1–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Glasbergen P (2007) Setting the scene: the partnership paradigm in the making. In: Glasbergen P, Bierman F, Mol AP (eds) Partnerships, governance and sustainable development. Reflections on theory and practice. Cheltenham, UK, pp 1–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hogenboom B (2003) Cross-border activism and its limits: Mexican environmental organizations and the United States. Cuadernos del CEDLA 13. CEDLA (Centre for Latin American Research and Documentation), AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  17. Hurwitz Z (2011) Hydropower industry needs standards, not scorecards, to be sustainable. Accessed 24 Aug 2012
  18. IHA (International Hydropower Association) (2004) IHA sustainability guidelines. International Hydropower Association, LondonGoogle Scholar
  19. IHA (International Hydropower Association) (2006) IHA sustainability assessment protocol. International Hydropower Association, LondonGoogle Scholar
  20. IHA (International Hydropower Association) (2009) Forum response to consultation 1 issues, March 2009. Accessed 1 Aug 2013
  21. IHA (International Hydropower Association) (2010a) IHA sustainability assessment protocol, LondonGoogle Scholar
  22. IHA (International Hydropower Association (2010b) Hydropower sustainability assessment forum. Phase 2 consultation outcomes report. Ove Arup & Partners Ltd, London. Accessed 1 Aug 2013
  23. Imhof A, Lanza GR (2010) Greenwashing hydropower: the problems with big dams. World Watch Mag 23(1):8–17Google Scholar
  24. IR (International Rivers) (no year) Accessed 18 July 2012
  25. IR (International Rivers) (2003) Who’s behind the World Water Forums? A brief guide to the world water mafia. Accessed 26 July 2012
  26. IR (International Rivers) (2008) Social and environmental standards for large dams. Comparing the strategic priorities and policy principles of the world commission on dams, the sustainability guidelines and sustainability assessment protocol of the international hydropower association, and the performance standards of the world bank’s international finance corporation. Accessed 24 Aug 2012
  27. IR (International Rivers) (2009) Letter to IHA. Sent on 09-01-12. Accessed 24 Aug 2012
  28. IR (International Rivers) (2010) Voluntary approach will not resolve dam conflicts. A critique of the international hydropower association assessment protocol. Accessed 26 August 2012
  29. IR (International Rivers) (2011) Civil society statement on the launch of the hydropower sustainability assessment protocol at the congress of the international hydropower association in Foz do Iguaçú Brazil on 16 June 2011. Accessed 24 Aug 2012
  30. IR (International Rivers) (2012) Infrastructure for whom? A critique of the infrastructure strategies of the Group 20 and the World Bank. Accessed 20 July 2012
  31. Islam S, Susskind LE and associates (2013) Water diplomacy: a negotiated approach to managing complex water networks. Routledge, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  32. Jordan L, Van Tuijl P (2000) Political responsibility in transnational NGO advocacy. World Dev 28(12):2051–2065CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Keck M, Sikkink K (1998) Activists beyond borders: advocacy networks in international Politics. Cornell University Press, IthacaGoogle Scholar
  34. Khagram S (2000) Toward democratic governance of sustainable development: transnational civil society organizing around big dams. In: Florini AM (ed) The third force: the rise of transnational civil society. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, DC, pp 83–114Google Scholar
  35. Khagram S, Riker JV, Sikkink K (2002) From Santiago to Seattle: Transnational advocacy groups restructuring world politics. In: Khagram S, Riker JV, Sikkink K (eds) Restructuring world politics. Transnational social movements, networks and norms. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, pp 3–23Google Scholar
  36. Locher H, Hermansen GY, Johannesson GA, Xuezhong Y et al (2010) Initiatives in the hydro power sector post-World Commission on Dams—the hydropower sustainability assessment forum. Water Altern 3(2):43–57Google Scholar
  37. Locher H, Hermansen GY, Johannesson GA, Xuezhong Y et al (2011) Hydropower sustainability assessment forum. Statement of conclusionGoogle Scholar
  38. Martínez-Alier J (2002) The environmentalism of the poor: a study of ecological conflicts and valuation. Edward Elgar Publishing, Northampton, CheltenhamCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Mathews JT (1997) Power shift. Foreign Aff 76:50–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Mayntz R (2001) El Estado y la sociedad civil en la gobernanza moderna. Revista del CLAD, Reforma y Democracia (21):7–22 Google Scholar
  41. McCully P (2001) The use of a trilateral network: an activist’s perspective on the formation of the world commission on dams. Am Univ Int Law Rev 16(6):1453–1475Google Scholar
  42. Nadelman E (1990) Global prohibition regimes: the evolution of norms in international society. Int Org 44:479–526CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Nelson PJ (1997) Conflict, legitimacy, and effectiveness: who speaks for whom in transnational NGO networks lobbying the world bank? Nonprofit Voluntary Sector Q 26(4):421–444CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. O’Brien R (2005) Global civil society and global governance. In: Ba AD, Hoffmann MJ (eds) Contending perspectives on global governance. Coherence, contestation and world order. Routledge, London, New York, pp 213–230Google Scholar
  45. Ottaway M (2001) Corporatism goes global: international organizations, nongovernmental organization networks, and transnational business. Glob Gov 7:265–292Google Scholar
  46. Parker AR (2003) Prospects for NGO collaboration with multinational enterprises. In: Doh JP, Teegen H (eds) Globalization and NGOs. Transforming business, government, and society. Praeger, Westport, CT, pp 81–106Google Scholar
  47. Rhodes RAW (1996) The new governance: governing without government. Polit Stud XLIV:652–667Google Scholar
  48. Rohrscheider R, Dalton RJ (2002) A global network? transnational cooperation among environmental groups. J Polit 64(2):510–533Google Scholar
  49. Rowley TJ, Moldoveanu M (2003) When will stakeholder groups act? an interest- and identity-based model of stakeholder group mobilization. Acad Manag Rev 28:204–219Google Scholar
  50. Sikkink K (2002) Restructuring world politics: the limits and asymmetries of soft power. In: Khagram S, Riker JV, Sikkink K (eds) Restructuring world politics. Transnational social movements, networks and norms. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, London, pp 301–318Google Scholar
  51. Simmons PJ (1998) Learning to live with NGOs. Foreign Policy 112:82–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Van Huijstee M, Glasbergen P (2007) The practice of stakeholder dialogue between multinationals and NGOs. Corp Soc Responsib Environ Manag 15:298–310CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Van Huijstee M, Francken M, Leroy P (2008) Partnerships for sustainable development: a review of current literature. Environ Sci 4(2):75–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Van Huijstee M (2009) Interactions between business and nongovernmental organizations. New social practices for sustainable development. Ökologisches Wirtschaften 1:39–42Google Scholar
  55. Van Huijstee M, Glasbergen P (2010) NGOs moving business: an analysis of contrasting strategies. Bus Soc 49:591CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Weiss TG, Gordenker L (eds) (1996) NGOs, the UN and Global Governance. Lynne Rienner Publishers, LondonGoogle Scholar
  57. Williams PB (1998) An historic overview of IRN’s Mission. Unpublished manuscriptGoogle Scholar
  58. Wilson J (2002) The sponsorship scam. In: Lubbers E (ed) Battling big business: countering greenwash, front groups and other forms of corporate bullying. Common Courage Press, Monroe, ME, pp 44–52Google Scholar
  59. Winston M (2002) NGOs strategies for promoting corporate social responsibility. Ethics Int Aff 16(1):71–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. World Bank (2010) Involving nongovernmental organizations in bank-supported activities. Accessed 30 January 2013
  61. WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) (no year) Dams initiative. Accessed 18 July 2012
  62. WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) (2003) WWF’s Dams initiative: hydropower in a changing world. Accessed 18 July 2012
  63. WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) (2005) WWF’s Dams initiative: to dam or not to dam? Five years on from the world commission on dams. Accessed on 18 July 2012
  64. WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) (2007) WWF’s Dams initiative: rivers at risk. Dams in the future of freshwater ecosystems. Accessed 18 July 2012
  65. Zald MN, McCarthy JD (1980) Social movement industries: competition and cooperation among movement organizations. Res Soc Mov Conflicts Change 3:1–20Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.German Development Institute (DIE)BonnGermany

Personalised recommendations