IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, and the Australian government have approved a $5.4 million grant to encourage sustainable hydropower in Lao PDR and safeguard river health, a key resource for food and trade.

In Lao PDR, about 80% of the population depends on rivers for daily subsistence, including fishing and trading. IFC said it is working to ensure that downstream impacts from hydropower projects are minimized via improved environmental and social standards, which in turn will support the livelihoods of riverine communities, improve river ecology, and ensure more sustainable management of hydropower projects.

“The Australian government’s support underscores the importance of developing hydropower in a sustainable manner, and aims to tackle challenges of water resource governance," said Simon Andrews, IFC Regional Manager for Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.

With more than 70 hydropower projects planned in Lao PDR, the grant allows IFC to significantly increase its efforts to encourage the private sector, governments, and financiers to implement sustainable hydropower development options.

“Sustainable hydropower begins with the commitment of all stakeholders," said Andrews. "By advising developers, holding public consultations, and training government officials, IFC is working to ensure that projects in the pipeline are sustainable and meet good international and industry practice."