Sharing good practices in climate resilience and risk management

Hydropower operators, financial institutions, academics and humanitarian organisations gathered to share best practices in climate resilience and risk management in the hydropower sector at a workshop in Mexico City.

Organised by the International Hydropower Association (IHA) and the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, the workshop addressed technical, financial and humanitarian aspects of decision-making of risk management in development and operations.    

The workshop, entitled ‘Climate Resilience and the Effective Management of Risk in the Hydropower Sector’, between 14 and 15 May 2018 was a side event at the Understanding Risk Forum organised by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR).

It provided a platform to present outcomes of previous IHA workshops on hydrological and financial risks, as well as for IHA to present draft guidelines on hydropower sector climate resilience.  

María Ubierna, senior analyst at IHA, said: “The guidelines will incorporate climate change resilience and hydrological risk management into hydropower project appraisal, design, construction and operation, resulting in more robust and resilient projects. They will address the needs of the wider financial community, policy makers and local communities.”

Supported by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the World Bank Group, IHA is hosting the secretariat for the coordination of the testing and revision of the guidelines, which aim to provide practical and workable international good practice guidance for project owners, governments, financial institutions and private developers.

During a discussion on factors in advancing climate resilience, Dr Emily Wilkinson, Senior Research Fellow at the Overseas Development Institute’s Risk and Resilience Programme, spoke about the need to build climate resilience into public policy.

“We need to be demonstrating the full benefits of multi-purpose dams and promoting more of a national strategy around investing in hydropower: the full benefits and the co-benefits, thinking about flood risk management and opportunities,” Dr Wilkinson said.  

Another common theme of discussion concerned the importance of involving local communities in decision-making about hydropower project risk management.

Kara Siahaan, Senior Officer at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies shared how National Societies build resilience within their communities through the early action Forecast-based Financing (FbF) model that was developed by the Red Cross and Red Crescent Climate Centre.

“Transforming early warning into early action is about assisting communities to have risk-informed approaches to address vulnerabilities, connecting communities with governments and partners and engaging them in the decision-making process,” said Ms Siahaan.

Iván Rodríguez, Manager of Hydropower Developments at the Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE), suggested that managing social aspects is “the key to unblock” the development of new projects in Mexico, where the last project was built in 2012.

Mr Rodríguez noted CFE’s project planning and monitoring of reservoir levels as particularly important in protecting surrounding areas and downstream communities.

The Mexico workshop was attended by more than 60 participants, who heard from representatives of more than 15 organisations during panel discussions, presentations and working groups. Participants included hydropower companies from France, Haiti, Malaysia and Mexico, including IHA members CFE and Sarawak Energy.

The Understanding Risk Forum, from 14 to 18 May 2018, is organised every two years by GFDRR. It brought together experts for collaboration, knowledge sharing and innovation in identifying and assessing disaster risk.

To see the full list of speakers and workshop programme, please visit the event webpage. To get access to the presentations and the briefing from the workshop please join the Climate Resilience and River Basin Development knowledge networks.

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