An international forum for sustainable hydropower

6 June 2011



2011 IHA World Congress on Advancing Sustainable Hydropower takes place in Iguassu, Brazil, from 14-17 June. Here we take a look at what visitors to this pivotal event can expect


In a period of continued financial uncertainty; climate, water and energy issues remain high on the global agenda. As the pace of hydropower project development in many places is significantly increasing, with major investments in hydropower potential being announced in Africa, Asia, and South America, decisions that will determine hydropower’s role in energy provision, water management and climate adaptation/mitigation for future generations are being made now.

Successfully harnessing hydropower’s potential, to meet the rapidly growing needs of the developing countries, let alone to meet the increasing demands for cleaner energy in the developed economies, is a key component in achieving several of the world’s goals.

A recurring question is how to effectively balance the environmental, social and economic dimensions of hydropower development? Decision makers are seeking comfort in project proposals being optimized within the context of sustainability. Investors are calling for clarity on how to successfully overcome the capital constraints of investing in hydropower projects. There are many actors determined to see a renewable energy portfolio that supplies the demand, is resilient to climate-change, and makes business sense. And how can the private sector better drive new deployment within broader strategic development plans?

Hydropower certainly has enormous potential to provide solutions for smarter power systems , reliable water management and making its contribution to addressing climate challenges – but are those making decision today aware of these opportunities? Decision-makers in many countries are seeking dynamic, interactive forums in which to develop and compare strategies and experience in generating solutions to the world’s challenges. Much can be learned from the experiences of others, between regions, and in different sectors.

To address the above, the international-hydropower-association (iha) is hosting the 2011 IHA World Congress on Advancing Sustainable Hydropower, with a cutting-edge programme defining the future of sustainable hydropower development.

Event Overview

2011 IHA World Congress, a pivotal event in the world’s hydropower calendar, takes place in Iguassu, Brazil, on 14 to 17 June.

Several hundred participants from more than 50 countries are expected to attend the three day congress. Industry leaders, policy makers, regional agencies, civil-society representatives, researchers and colleagues from the financial sector will be among those actively participating in sharing regional and global perspectives, expertise, and practical experience in developing and operating sustainable hydropower.

The World Congress programme will address key strategic issues in the hydropower sector, including:

• Energy security

• Climate challenges

• Integrating policies

• Sustainability performance

• Sharing water

• Optimising renewables

• Emerging economies

• Markets and incentives

As in previous IHA Congresses, (Turkey in 2007 and Iceland in 2009), the 2011 World Congress in Brazil provides an international forum to present and discuss the real issues interlinking investment in resolving energy, water and climate challenges, enabling future strategy and action to be formulated and shaped.

Delegates participating in Iguassu, will have the opportunity to get directly involved in discussions on the future role of hydropower. The World Congress will leave delegates with a firm understanding of the critical issues of today and tomorrow, as well as the tremendous opportunities for the hydropower sector.

Congress Programme

Opening Session: Hydropower Perspectives

Investment in hydropower has reached unprecedented levels. Governments, industry and civil society agree that hydropower should be advanced in a sustainable manner, but despite a more consensual and informed debate, clear divergences of opinion remain. In this first plenary session, world leaders will set the scene and share their views on what they perceive to be the pathways to sustainability.

Session 2: Integrating water and energy policies

Attention in policy-making is increasingly focused on the interactions between water and energy. There is a clear need for improved coordination in responding to rising demands for water and energy services. Speakers will provide insights into optimisation of water/energy storage, multipurpose use of water, and synergies between natural and man-made infrastructure.

Session 3: Climate change: what does hydropower offer?

The Cancún climate negotiations placed adaptation on a par with mitigation – what can hydropower do to help address climate change on both fronts? How vulnerable is water infrastructure to climate change, and how can hydropower accommodate its consequences? What role can hydropower play in solutions for managing uncertainty? Presentations will be followed by commentary and questions.

Parallel Sessions

4a: Hydropower’s greenhouse gas footprint: where’s the truth?

Based on the UNESCO/IHA ‘GHG’ Research Project and similar initiatives, this session will update delegates on the state of the science, the challenges of gathering meaningful data and correctly identifying the sources of greenhouse compounds. The ramifications for greenhouse gas inventories and calculated offsets will also be considered.

4b: Does hydropower consume water?

Exploring different interpretations of water ‘consumption’ in an attempt to recognise the energy impacts on water. There is a compelling need to clarify the debate, and the terminology in which it is communicated; speakers will offer new ways of framing the discussion to guide policy-makers and practitioners.

4c: Hydropower development and freshwater conservation

Across hydropower developing regions, infrastructure projects are developed in parallel with nature conservation efforts. Often, incompatibilities are only recognised at later stages of the planning process. From this perspective, how can cooperation between governments, developers and conservationists be achieved in determining which rivers or river stretches are developed and which are kept free-flowing?

Session 5: Assessing Sustainability Performance

Sustainability assessment has become fundamental for decision-making by industry, finance, and governments. Organisations involved in the development and use of the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol will present how this tool can structure dialogue, inform decisions and manage risk. The session will clarify how developers and operators, as well as other stakeholders, can benefit from the Protocol in practice.

Session 6: Diverging Views on Social Issues

Resolving social issues is a prerequisite for any successful hydropower development, but achieving this can be a challenge. This session brings together speakers and respondents from a range of backgrounds presenting different legal perspectives on project-affected populations in order to set the context for current human rights debates. Recent resettlement initiatives and sector guidelines on interactions with Indigenous Peoples will be discussed.

Session 7: Sharing Water for Development

Transboundary rivers are often portrayed as sources of conflict. This session will explore innovations in water management and how resource sharing in transboundary catchments poses significant challenges in information exchange.

8a: Using the Sustainability Protocol

This session is designed for participants interested in knowing more about how to use the Protocol, particularly potential assessors and those being assessed. Specialists will present case studies and specific aspects of the Protocol, including the assessment process, roles and responsibilities, types of evidence and timeframes involved.

8b: Downstream Flow Regimes

Flow regimes downstream of hydropower facilities need to be planned with an awareness of their environmental, social and economic dimensions. Speakers will discuss information needs, flow management, stakeholder engagement and definition of acceptable outcomes reconciling multiple objectives.

8c: Hydro in the 21st century: the rise of emerging markets

The rise of emerging markets in the developing world, complementing developed economies in the OECD, is one of the defining trends of our time. Hydropower is emblematic of this story – leading developing countries could now account for up to 70-80% of global hydro growth. Yet the rest of the world is often unaware of these developments – this is in part a problem of statistical tracking and lack of communication by the sector. Representatives from Brazil, Russia, India and China, and other emerging markets will share insights into the major hydropower trends in their countries and regions.

9: Our Renewable Future: Combining Technologies

The world is calling for renewables to provide for the majority of energy needs by 2050. Achieving a secure, stable and affordable renewable energy system will require significant contributions from combinations of technologies. Policy-makers, civil society, industry and academia are working together in pursuit of this ambitious goal. How is hydropower engaging in this process? Several dynamic initiatives will be presented and responded to by a panel of renewable energy experts.

10: Regional Cooperation for Hydropower Development

Hydropower development is accelerating across a wide range of geographic areas, serving different market requirements. Regional cooperation is providing opportunities through expanding networks and international basin approaches. Case studies will be presented of power pool development, the role of power intensive industries, and bilateral projects. The output of the session will be an initial agenda of recommendations, including transferable solutions.

11: Markets and Incentives

A growing diversity of feed-in sources and energy off-takers are leading to an ever more complex energy matrix. Markets will not, however, evolve unless decision-makers and financiers are informed and engaged - the first challenge is communication. The second challenge is to reconcile the particular demands attached to different revenue streams (carbon, renewables, ancillary services, storage) in powerplant design and financial modelling.

12: Closing Session: the Future of Sustainable Hydropower

Bringing together heads of the host organisations, governments and IHA, the closing session will reflect on the proceedings and recommendations offered during the Congress. Speakers will set out their perspectives for further advancing sustainable hydropower.

Workshop on Regional Cooperation (13 June)

IHA, in partnership with the world’s leading multilateral development banks, is hosting the first Global Workshop on Regional Cooperation for Hydropower Development on 13 June, prior to the World Congress. Planning agencies, governmental policy and decision makers, as well as multilateral and commercial bank representatives have been invited to compare and contrast initiatives to optimize hydropower development in various regions of the world. Focussing on opportunities for regional cooperation (for example, through river-basin development, power-pool trading and cross-border investment), participants will share experiences, discuss challenges and offer solutions for regional approaches to hydropower development.

Recommendations from the Workshop will be summarized in a report to be presented at a special session on the final day of the Congress. Participants will be invited to join an informal network to facilitate on-going dialogue and future meetings on regional cooperation for hydropower development. Further information on the Global Workshop on Regional Cooperation for Hydropower Development can be obtained through the following email address: [email protected]

Launch of Protocol

The Sustainable Hydropower Assessment Protocol, a sustainability assessment tool being used to measure and guide performance in the hydropower sector, will be officially launched at the Congress. The Protocol follows an intensive review conducted between 2008 to 2010 by the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Forum, a multi-stakeholder body with representatives from social and environmental NGOs (Oxfam, The Nature Conservancy, Transparency International, WWF); governments (China, Germany, Iceland, Norway, Zambia); commercial and development banks (Equator Principles Financial Institutions Group, The World Bank); and the hydropower sector, represented by IHA.

Congress Networking Tour

A Congress Networking Tour will visit the Itaipu dam and powerhouse giving delegates the opportunity to informally meet and network while gaining an in-depth understanding of the world’s most productive powerplant. The Tour also takes in a visit to the Bela Vista Ecological Refuge, and the famous Iguassu Falls.

Further information on the IHA World Congress can be found at: www.hydropower.org




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