International hydro congress focuses on sustainability

“Sustainability” became the key word for hydro industry representatives from about 50 countries who attended the International Hydropower Association (IHA) World Congress in Iceland.

About 300 people gathered June 23-26, 2009, for sessions on energy and water policy, linkage between hydropower and climate change, hydro development, investment and finance, and hydropower markets.

As chronicled by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), the IHA Congress further advanced IHA’s Draft Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol, a tool for assessment of sustainable hydropower development. (HydroWorld 6/4/09)

Summing up the event, IISD quoted Roger Gill of Hydro Focus Pty, who noted many people came to the Congress expecting to discuss the business of hydropower, but discovered they were “here to discuss the sustainability of the world.”

Reporting on the work of the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Forum, a multi-sector collaboration to advance the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol, Kristin Nyman of GTZ said participation of the forum’s many stakeholders is reflected in a new draft of the protocol, making it more comprehensive.

Reginald Hernaus of the Netherlands’ Ministry of Environment, suggested IHA increase its outreach activities and promote the revised sustainability assessment protocol. He told delegates the central challenge for the hydropower sector is to convince the international community, especially climate change rules negotiators, that hydropower is a sustainable energy source.

Paul Soffe of EcoSecurities said hydropower projects are being demonized in climate policy arenas, with many buyers shying away from hydro carbon credits. He said the hydropower industry should lobby U.S. and European Union governments to convince them of hydro’s sustainability.

President Luis Berga of the International Commission on Large Dams emphasized that water policy, energy policy, and hydropower development and operation are interconnected. He called for adoption of integrated water resource management policies, energy efficiency activities, and increased water infrastructure and storage capacity to develop a holistic strategy for addressing water and development.

A full report by the IISD on the IHA Congress may be obtained via the IHA Internet site, Information on the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol is available on the Internet at


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