Global voices call for sustainable hydropower to address climate change, as World Hydropower Congress begins

New declaration and industry standard to promote clean, green and responsible hydropower

The world needs sustainable hydropower to help tackle the climate emergency, with investment in the long duration energy storage and grid resilience it provides becoming ever more urgent to expand growth in renewables.

The potential absence of sufficient hydropower capacity is the “ignored crisis within the climate crisis” agreed Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Blair on the opening day of the 2021 World Hydropower Congress.  

“Long duration storage is absolutely essential and pumped hydro is going to be one of the principal means of achieving that,” commented Mr Blair, Executive Chairman of the Institute for Global Change, in an online session now available to view on-demand.

“The question is, how do we implement sufficient projects at scale to make a difference?”  

Line-up of speakers

The two former prime ministers are among a roster of high-level speakers seeking to answer this question during the 2021 World Hydropower Congress, including IHA President Roger Gill, COP26 Chair Alok Sharma, former New Zealand PM Helen Clark, US Deputy Energy Secretary David Turk, GEIDCO Secretary-General Wu Xuan, UN Special Envoy Mark Carney, EDF CEO Jean-Bernard Lévy, Sarawak Energy CEO Sharbini Suhaili, Fortescue Metals Group Founder Andrew Forrest, and the heads of the International Energy Agency, International Renewable Energy Agency, The Nature Conservancy and WWF-International.

As official host of the World Hydropower Congress, the President of Costa Rica Carlos Alvarado will lead the opening plenary today at 16:00 GMT+1. The virtual event is free-to-attend by registering at Registrants gain access to more than 30 events over the three weeks.  

The World Hydropower Congress will see a range of major announcements and commitments made by and on behalf of the hydropower sector, including the San José Declaration on Sustainable Hydropower, the launch of the Hydropower Sustainability Standard, a new ESG certification scheme, as well as recommendations from the International Forum on Pumped Storage Hydropower, co-chaired by the US Department of Energy.

San José Declaration on Sustainable Hydropower

The San José Declaration on Sustainable Hydropower, to be debated by delegates during the next three weeks, is intended to be a manifesto for change to spur more sustainable hydropower developments.

Roger Gill, President of IHA, said the declaration will define the standards upon which future  hydropower will be built. “The San José Declaration provides an opportunity for the sector to define, for governments, for policymakers, for the community, exactly what it is prepared to do to ensure hydropower is developed sustainably throughout the 21st century.”

“The San José Declaration on Sustainable Hydropower is going to provide the blueprint for the new generation of hydropower, the construction and delivery of which is so critical if we are going to achieve the cut in emissions that we need, and keep global warming within tolerable constraints,” added Mr Turnbull.

Dr Andrea Meza, Minister of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica, further added: “The employment of renewables must follow principles that will protect people, the environment and our planet, and this is the value of the San Jose Declaration. It seeks to promote sustainable hydropower development, and it is a call for best practices to maximise positive impacts among governments, the private sector and stakeholders.”

World Hydropower Congress to COP26  

Ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), the World Hydropower Congress provides an opportunity to hear how the massive roll-out of solar and wind power is dependent on the clean generation, storage and grid resilience services offered by sustainable hydropower. The San José Declaration will be handed to COP26 Chair Alok Sharma on the closing day.

For the first time in its 14-year history, the World Hydropower Congress is now fully virtual and free to all. It brings together industry, government, finance and civil society. More than 4,000 attendees have already registered to-date from over 130 countries.

The World Hydropower Congress is organised by the International Hydropower Association (IHA) and hosted in partnership with the Government of Costa Rica and Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), under the theme 'Renewables Working Together'. Strategic partners to the event are China Three Gorges Corporation, EDF, Sarawak Energy and Yalong River Hydropower Development Company, with Supporting Partners GE Renewable Energy and Voith Hydro.

No go commitment on World Heritage Sites

On the eve of the event, IHA, representing around 100 public and privately owned developers, operators and manufacturers, announced an historic no-go commitment on future development in UNESCO-designated World Heritage Sites. This was accompanied by a duty of care requirement for new projects in legally designated Protected Areas.  

The next day, 8 September, will see the launch of the Hydropower Sustainability Standard, a new certification scheme for hydropower projects globally.

Register now

Opening plenary: launch of the World Hydropower Congress

7 September 2021 / 16:00-17:30 GMT+1

This opening high-level plenary will set the scene for the 2021 World Hydropower Congress, highlighting global trends and the future for the energy transition. Speakers include:

  • Carlos Alvarado Quesada, President of Costa Rica
  • Dr Fatih Birol, Executive Director, International Energy Agency
  • Helen Clark, Former Prime Minister of New Zealand
  • Andrew Forrest AO, Chairman and Founder, Fortescue Metals Group
  • Roger Gill, President, IHA
  • Dr Ashok Khosla, Chair, Hydropower Sustainability Council
  • Jean-Bernard Lévy, Chairman and CEO, EDF
  • Dr Andrea Meza, Minister of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica
  • Sharbini Suhaili, Group CEO, Sarawak Energy
  • Pavan Sukhdev, President, WWF International
  • David Turk, Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy
  • Wu Xuan, Secretary General (GEIDCO), GEIDCO
  • Guo Xuyuan, General Manager, Yalong Hydro

For more information, visit

Privacy Policy