The World Hydropower Congress 2023, hosted in Bali, Indonesia, has unveiled a groundbreaking vision for the future of sustainable energy production, emphasizing the pivotal role of hydropower. The Bali Statement on Powering Sustainable Growth, released today, calls for water, wind, and solar energy to unite in facilitating the sustainable growth of economies worldwide, marking a significant milestone on the road to COP28.

The Bali Statement underscores the need for sustainable hydropower to serve as the linchpin of national strategies aimed at fostering thriving, low-carbon economies powered by clean, renewable energy. As the world's largest source of renewable energy generation and storage, hydropower has historically underpinned industrial development in some of the world's most advanced economies while bolstering water management efforts.

A notable aspect of the statement is its emphasis on untapped hydropower potential in developing regions. These regions offer immense opportunities for further development and investment, thereby addressing the global demand for sustainable energy solutions.

The core message of the Bali Statement has been summarised as: "The industrial revolution was powered by water. Water, wind, and sun together will power the sustainable growth of the future."

To put this vision into practice, the Bali Statement presents four key recommendations for policymakers:

  • Planning for future energy needs: In light of the increasing use of variable renewables like wind and solar power, decision-makers must collaborate across borders to identify the most optimal mix of low-carbon renewable energy technologies, ensuring sustainable development.
  • Incentivising sustainable hydropower development through financial and market-based mechanisms: To meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, investment in hydropower needs to double to $100 billion annually, while existing assets must be maintained and enhanced. The statement advocates for creating market frameworks that incentivize and de-risk new hydropower investments.
  • Accelerating the development of renewables through transparent and efficient permitting and licensing processes: Hydropower projects often face prolonged planning and approval processes, slowing down progress and sometimes leading to fallbacks on fossil fuels. The statement calls for expediting these processes without compromising sustainability.
  • Incorporating hydropower sustainability practices into government regulation and financial sector obligations: The development of hydropower projects must adhere to best sustainability practices, integrated into regulatory frameworks to maximize benefits and mitigate negative impacts.

The Bali Statement builds on the global hydropower community's renewed commitment to sustainable project development, as demonstrated through the San José Declaration on Sustainable Hydropower and the uptake of the Hydropower Sustainability Standard.

The statement has received wide-ranging support from influential figures and nations.

“Reaching net zero is not about 'stop the world, I want to get off'. There doesn't need to be a trade-off between growth and cutting emissions,” said Malcolm Turnbull, IHA President. “Countries, like Indonesia and mine – Australia – whose industries have been heavily reliant on coal, can have a clear path to continued growth. The Bali Statement on Powering Sustainable Growth sets out what this Congress sees as priorities for how to go about that. What the Statement makes clear is that the energy transition will not be possible without sustainable hydropower as the backbone of future energy systems.”

“Canada is supportive of the Bali Statement on Powering Sustainable Growth and its recommendations to incentivise hydropower development, accelerate the development of renewables and embed hydropower sustainability practices in government regulation” said Catherine Stewart, Canada's Ambassador for Climate Change. 

“We are proud to endorse the Bali Statement and its four recommendations, as we believe they represent the strategic path to promote sustainable growth,” added Rosy Ruiz, President of the Executive Council, Empresa de Generación Hidroeléctrica Dominicana (EGEHID). 

“The Solomon Islands is in support of the Bali Statement on Powering Sustainable Growth.” said Christopher Vehe, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Mines, Energy and Rural Electrification, Solomon Islands 

“The Bali Statement on Powering Sustainable Growth calls for hydropower to form the backbone of national strategies. To build thriving, low carbon economies, hosted by clean, renewable energy. Its key recommendations include future energy planning; incentivising and accelerating sustainable hydropower developments, as well as embedding hydropower sustainability practices into government and financial sector regulations. All of this is particularly relevant to encourage continued investment in renewable hydropower,”  commented Sharbini Suhaili, Chief Executive Officer, Sarawak Energy

“By mainstreaming environmental and social sustainability across AIIB-financed hydropower projects, we will contribute to enhanced asset quality and the maximisation of hydropower benefits, which are highlighted by the Bali Statement,” Danny Alexander, Vice President, Asian Infrastructure Development Bank, said.

“We have an opportunity for hydropower to set a new standard for sustainable growth, as outlined in the Bali Statement,” commented Gia Schneider, CEO, Natel Energy

“The Bali Statement sends a clear message to governments and financial leaders around the world that hydropower must be a part of the solution to grow economies sustainably while decarbonising our industries and ensuring we stay on track with global climate goals,” said Yudo Dwinanda Priaadi, Director General of New Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, Government of Indonesia

The Bali Statement on Powering Sustainable Growth stems from the San José Declaration on Sustainable Hydropower, which was issued in 2021. It emphasizes hydropower's potential to drive large-scale sustainable industrial growth in developing regions when combined with other renewables. However, the statement underscores that the commitment to sustainable hydropower development must be reinforced by aligned policy and regulatory frameworks and financial mechanisms.