Building Better Dams: the Past, Present and Future of Dams

February 4, 2020 | 17:00 h - 18:30 h

Date: Tuesday 4 February 2020, 17:00 – 18:30 (with reception afterwards)

Location: German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE), Bonn


More than 3,700 large dams are planned or under construction worldwide, to service growing demands for energy, irrigation, urban water or flood control. This new generation of dam schemes, most in ‘developing countries’, has the potential to make a significant contribution towards achieving economic growth, the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Paris climate change commitments.

But, maximizing the benefits of dams – while minimizing the negative social and environmental impacts – remains a great challenge. Professor David Hulme’s presentation builds on insights from the FutureDAMS project and reviews what is known about dam-building in developing countries and looks at future prospects. Can we learn from past experience or is ‘not learning from experience’ a central feature of decision-making about dams?



Professor David Hulme is Professor of Development Studies at the University of Manchester where he is Executive Director of the Global Development Institute, CEO of the FutureDAMS research center and CEO of the Effective States and Inclusive Development Research Centre.

Waltina Scheumann, associate researcher at the DIE, will reflect on the lecture against the background of her research on social and environmental norms in dam construction in emerging economies. Ines Dombrowsky, head of DIE’s program Environmental Governance and Transformation towards Sustainability, will moderate the discussion.



Welcome and Moderation: Ines Dombrowsky, Head of Programme, German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)

Presentation: David Hulme, Global Development Institute, The University of Manchester

Discussant: Waltina Scheumann, Associate Researcher, German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE), (tbc)



Please register by email at globaldev(at) by 28 January 2020.


Further information:

The FutureDAMS consortium that Professor Hulme leads is investigating how to establish the knowledge base, tools and an approach to enable dam projects to support resilient and sustainable development in a warming world:

An overview on DIE’s water expertise is available here:

For ZEF's work on the themes of land, water, food and energy see website here.


About the Water Lecture:

The Water Lecture series is a joint series organized by the Center for Development Research of the University of Bonn (ZEF), the United Nations Convention on Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) and the Eco-Hydrology and Water Resources Management Department of Geography, University of Bonn.


Please note: During the event photos and/or videos will be taken which may be published in various media for the purposes of documentation and PR-activities. You have the right at any time to point out to the photographer or videographer that you do not want to be photographed or filmed.