Q6- KM for Development: a Triple(?) Bottom Line

The Chico River Dam proposed in 1973 in the northern Philippines with World Bank funding was a famous development disaster. The 1000 MW hydroelectric dam would have submerged large areas of Bontoc and Kalinga ethnic ancestral lands, including burial grounds and sites sacred and valuable to the cultural communities. It generated massive local and international opposition. Martial Law President Marcos sent in soldiers. Many died including tribal leader Macli-ing Dulag. The social crisis gave ammunition to the insurgent New Peoples Army. It united the traditionally warring ethnic groups in the Cordillera mountain ranges and triggered the organization of the Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army. After the famous 1986 “People Power Revolution” threw out President Marcos, the next President Cory Aquino completely stopped the project. So much was lost in terms of money, lives and goodwill of the people on the Manila government.

KM is learning from mistakes.

Similar development disasters all over the world led the World Bank to adopt “Safeguard Policies” to protect third parties from negative impacts of development projects (lower right box in the figures in the previous blogpost Q5- Market value and/or? development value). In 1978, the Philippine Government adopted a law requiring Environmental Impact Assessments prior to approval of big projects. The Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of the Philippines requires free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) from communities that would be affected by a project, to avoid, minimize and/or compensate for social and cultural costs [thanks to Ann Lily Uvero for pointing this out]. Finally, in the 1992 Rio Summit, 178 nations adopted Agenda 21 which enshrined “sustainable development” among the universal development values of mankind.

But a lesson has not been learned by the last two Philippine presidents: that military solutions to social conflicts do not work. So the killing continues: killing of people and killing of the goodwill of their kins and communities.

Learning has been slow and costly.

Let us reproduce the diagram in the previous blogpost (Q5- Market value and/or? development value), but replace “enterprise” with “project.”


The social and environmental costs (lower right box) do not enter into project accounts, and therefore they are not part of Go-No Go and other project decisions. This is another example of sub-optimization we saw in the previous blog. It is the source of social conflicts because people who suffer the external costs and who do not enjoy the project benefits will oppose the project.

The lesson is this: development of infrastructure/economic capital should not proceed at the expense of social capital and natural capital, and vice versa — this is the essence, stated in KM language, of sustainable development adopted at the Rio Summit in 1992. It asserts that a purely economic or financial bottom line is dangerous; we must adopt a “triple bottom line” embracing the economic, social and natural value domains.

Does this make sense to you? Tell us what you think (use the Comments link below).

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4 Responses to “Q6- KM for Development: a Triple(?) Bottom Line”

  1. Ann lily Says:

    Do we consider the netwelfare benefit that a development intervention accrues. Read this from an AIM book.

    In KM – sharing of lessons learned and other advocacy for reform, include a free and prior consent, informed decision making process, other social safequards, etc. There are also other risk – cost of displacement, sense of community, culture-archeological site, etc. For example, the Kaptai lake in bangladesh – (another source of the CHT conflict which ended in 2000) submerged a heritage site

  2. apintalisayon Says:

    Hi Ann Lily,

    Are you in Afghanistan?

    Yes, the correct project criterion is net welfare or benefit = private benefit + social benefit — private cost — social cost.

    Free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) from the community that would be affected by a project is another solution invented to prevent social/cultural costs (or to compensate it). I will now add this in the main texts in Q5 and Q6 (with due credit to you).

  3. Losing Weight…Yeah Right! » Blog Archive » Saints At War: Project Hopes To Share Lds Soliders’ Experiences … Says:

    […] Q6- KM for Develoment: a Triple(?) Bottom Line « Apin Talisayon’s … […]

  4. Bob from Portland OR Says:

    Love your stuff!

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