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Turkey's megaprojects: Opportunities and concerns

26-01-2016

In the past five years, the Turkish leadership has announced a series of megaprojects, the purpose of which is both to support national development, and to gain a place for the country in the world's top ten economies. The main megaprojects include the 'Canalistanbul', which will create an additional shipping channel from the Marmara Sea to the Black Sea, a new airport, with the ambition to be the busiest in the world, a third bridge across the Bosphorus in Istanbul, as well as nuclear power plants ...

In the past five years, the Turkish leadership has announced a series of megaprojects, the purpose of which is both to support national development, and to gain a place for the country in the world's top ten economies. The main megaprojects include the 'Canalistanbul', which will create an additional shipping channel from the Marmara Sea to the Black Sea, a new airport, with the ambition to be the busiest in the world, a third bridge across the Bosphorus in Istanbul, as well as nuclear power plants and major pipelines across the country. These projects have led to major debates within Turkish society, as they are planned by the central government with little input from local communities. In addition there is controversy because of their potential impact on the environment, in an area of considerable seismic risk. These two dimensions were criticised in the European Commission's most recent report on Turkey's progress towards EU accession, published in November 2015. In June 2015, the European Parliament criticised Turkey's stance on freedom of speech, which is key to the possibilities for informing and consulting with civil society on large infrastructure developments such as the megaprojects.

Water disputes in Central Asia: Rising tension threatens regional stability

28-10-2015

After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, water management has caused severe disputes in Central Asia, due to conflicting needs and priorities between the upstream and downstream countries, thus endangering regional stability and security. In terms of distribution of natural resources, the countries in the region are divided into two groups: 'energy-poor but water-rich' upstream countries (Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan) and 'energy-rich but water-poor' downstream countries (Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan ...

After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, water management has caused severe disputes in Central Asia, due to conflicting needs and priorities between the upstream and downstream countries, thus endangering regional stability and security. In terms of distribution of natural resources, the countries in the region are divided into two groups: 'energy-poor but water-rich' upstream countries (Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan) and 'energy-rich but water-poor' downstream countries (Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan). While the first group is in dire need of water for energy, downstream countries need water for agriculture. As a result, natural resources have emerged not as tools for facilitating regional cooperation but as a source of conflict. The dispute over Tajikistan's Rogun Hydropower Plant Project represents a concrete example of the water-energy-food nexus in the region. As tension between energy-deprived Tajikistan and water-starved Uzbekistan grows, water becomes a source of conflict, posing a significant threat to regional stability. Bellicose statements from the leaders of Central Asian states reflect the importance of water-related disputes: Uzbek President Islam Karimov stated that 'water-related problems could spark wars'. Disagreement on water management has prompted initiatives from inside the region and from international actors, and the European Union is no exception. The EU's Central Asia Strategy, identified 'environment and water management' as a priority area. The EU has repeatedly stated that water-related disputes pose a major threat to regional security and stability. Recently, the Council Conclusions of June 2015 re-emphasised the critical importance of the issue. Possible acceleration of tension between the Central Asian states may deteriorate stability and security in the region, which already faces various other threats.

The World Bank Considers Feasible the Building of the Tajik Rogun Dam

22-07-2014

Water issues in Central Asia, which have proven contentious since the breakup of the Soviet Union, have attracted international attention with the World Bank's recent impact assessment condoning Tajikistan's plan to build an enormous dam. The Rogun Dam, under construction for decades, is strongly contested by downstream Uzbekistan. Tensions between energy-deprived Tajikistan and water-starved Uzbekistan – exacerbated by the region's endemically unsustainable resource management and growing competition ...

Water issues in Central Asia, which have proven contentious since the breakup of the Soviet Union, have attracted international attention with the World Bank's recent impact assessment condoning Tajikistan's plan to build an enormous dam. The Rogun Dam, under construction for decades, is strongly contested by downstream Uzbekistan. Tensions between energy-deprived Tajikistan and water-starved Uzbekistan – exacerbated by the region's endemically unsustainable resource management and growing competition – have prevented the countries from pooling their complementary resources. Downstream Uzbekistan has applied political and economic pressure to its poorer upstream neighbour to ensure the huge Uzbek cotton fields continue to be watered. For its part, Tajikistan hopes to export electricity to Afghanistan with the hydropower project, which has suffered from a lack of funding as well as political wrangling. The dam, located in an earthquake-prone region, would be the tallest in the world – and the most cost-effective way to boost Tajikistan's economy and energy efficiency. According to the World Bank, whose reports included technological and environmental considerations, the construction and operation of the dam are feasible, and the proper application of international standards would reduce the risk of failure. The Bank also recommends that downstream countries have an equity participation in the project.

Brazil's Belo Monte Dam project: Financial impact, indigenous peoples' rights & the environment

20-06-2013

Brazil is constructing the third largest hydroelectric power plant in the world. The Belo Monte Dam is being built in the state of Pará, Brazil. Its first commercial generation is expected to come on stream in 2015. Opponents criticise the investment because of its environmental impact, lack of consultation of indigenous people and the resettlement of at least 5 100 families.

Brazil is constructing the third largest hydroelectric power plant in the world. The Belo Monte Dam is being built in the state of Pará, Brazil. Its first commercial generation is expected to come on stream in 2015. Opponents criticise the investment because of its environmental impact, lack of consultation of indigenous people and the resettlement of at least 5 100 families.

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