IHA World Congress sees hydro’s role in climate scheme

Hydropower’s status as a renewable, sustainable energy source was ratified by 320 delegates from 43 countries at the International Hydropower Association (IHA) World Congress on Sustainable Hydropower.

IHA’s inaugural international congress, May 29-31 in Antalya, provided a forum for dialog among hydropower companies, investment and development banks, non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders.

IHA President Dogan Altinbilek told the gathering that 2 billion people worldwide lack access to electricity. He said hydropower can contribute to meeting United Nations Millennium Development Goals for poverty reduction, especially in Africa and Latin America.

IHA officials outlined the organization’s Sustainability Assessment Protocol, approved by the IHA board in 2006, and designed to promote greater consideration of environmental, social, and economic sustainability in the assessment of new energy supply options, new hydro projects, and the operation of existing hydro projects. (HNN 5/21/07)

The Sustainability Assessment Protocol was developed to help IHA members assess the performance of their hydropower projects against criteria the association previously established in the IHA Sustainability Guidelines.

IHA forms working group on climate and hydropower

During a session on climate change, Henk van Schaik of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) cited a report on climate change, saying its worst effects could be avoided if action is initiated immediately. Van Schaik, director of UNESCO’s Cooperative Program on Water and Climate, suggested IHA initiate a specialist group on water, climate, and hydropower.

In response to the suggestion, IHA announced it initiated a working group on climate and hydropower. Discussion participants noted hydropower facilities had to potential to reduce risks of flooding and drought arising from climate change.

In the closing session, Chairman Peter Rae of the International Renewable Energy Alliance summed up a conclusion of several sessions that hydropower can be regarded as renewable and sustainable.

Roger Gill, executive general manager of Hydro Tasmania, noted there has been a �sea change� in the acceptability of hydropower by bankers. He noted interests of banks and IHA are coinciding in implementing sustainable projects. Similarly, he said it is significant that the interests of IHA and the Nature Conservancy also are coinciding on hydro’s part in a sustainable system of energy.

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