Handbook of the International Political Economy of Energy and Natural Resources
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Handbook of the International Political Economy of Energy and Natural Resources

Edited by Andreas Goldthau, Michael F. Keating and Caroline Kuzemko

This Handbook offers a comprehensive overview of the latest research from leading scholars on the international political economy of energy and resources. Highlighting the important conceptual and empirical themes, the chapters study all levels of governance, from global to local, and explore the wide range of issues emerging in a changing political and economic environment.
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Chapter 14: International political economy and the global governance of hydroelectric dams

Michael F. Keating


Hydroelectric dams are massively controversial, and the social, economic and environmental backlash against them in the 1990s led to the emergence of new modes of global governance, wherein local social movements and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) formed effective anti-dam alliances with global civil society. This in turn led to the 2000 World Commission on Dams – an attempt to create new, shared norms for establishing systems global governance. However, with the emergence of the 2011 Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol (HSAP), based on corporate social responsibility (CSR), competing norms in effect exist – with conflict between global civil society on the one hand, and states, the hydropower industry and global governance institutions on the other. This conflict revolves around participation – the World Commission on Dams’ (WCD) attempt to ‘mainstream participatory governance’ versus HSAP’s requirements for ‘community engagement’ in the context of involuntary resettlement. The chapter traces the process through which participatory norms were watered down, attempts to institutionalise global governance failed, and civil society itself was weakened.

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