International community sets new ambition for hydropower to enable sustainable growth
The Bali Statement on Powering Sustainable Growth – released today at the World Hydropower Congress 2023 in Bali, Indonesia – states that sustainable hydropower must be the backbone of national strategies to build thriving, low carbon economies bolstered by clean, renewable energy.
As the world’s largest source of renewable energy generation and storage, hydropower has underpinned industrial development in many of the world’s most advanced economies, while also strengthening water management. Most of the untapped hydropower potential that remains today is in developing regions and this is where the Bali Statement urges for more changes and investments to take place.
“The industrial revolution was powered by water. Water, wind and sun together will power the sustainable growth of the future.”
This is the key message of the Bali Statement, which following an open public consultation, has provided four recommendations to policymakers to ensure this necessary collaboration can take place:
1. Planning for future energy needs. With more variable renewables like wind and solar power in use, decision-makers must work together across boundaries where necessary, to identify the most optimal overall mix of low carbon renewable energy technologies to enable sustainable development.
2. Incentivising sustainable hydropower development through financial and market-based mechanisms. To meet Paris Agreement aims and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the IEA estimates that investment in hydropower needs to double to $100 billion a year, while the fleet of existing assets must be retained and enhanced. To make this happen, hydropower must be on a level playing field with other renewables. Decision-makers should implement appropriate market frameworks to incentivise and de-risk new hydropower investment and modernisation activities in order to meet climate targets, including remuneration for the non-energy services provided by hydropower projects.
3. Accelerating the development of renewables through transparent and efficient permitting and licensing processes. Hydropower planning and approval processes typically take more than five years before new projects and substantive modernisation activities can even begin construction. Meanwhile, the default option is often to fall back on fossil fuels. This licensing process must be accelerated by improving the efficiency of these processes wherever possible without compromising sustainability.
4. Incorporating hydropower sustainability practices into government regulation and financial sector obligations. Accelerating development does not mean cutting corners. Application of best sustainability practices, built and governed through multi-stakeholder consensus such as the Hydropower Sustainability Standard, should be either integrated into regulatory frameworks or referred to as a preferred tool to maximise the benefits of projects and mitigate any negative impacts.
The Bali Statement on Powering Sustainable Growth follows on from the global hydropower community’s reaffirmed commitment to the sustainable development of projects through both the adoption of the San José Declaration on Sustainable Hydropower and uptake of the Hydropower Sustainability Standard.
The full statement is available to download here.
Statements of support
“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. 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,” - Malcolm Turnbull, IHA President.
“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” – 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” – 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.” – 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,” - 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.
“We have an opportunity for hydropower to set a new standard for sustainable growth, as outlined in the Bali Statement.” – 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.” – Yudo Dwinanda Priaadi, Director General of New Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, Government of Indonesia.