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River basin development

The challenge

A river basin is a network of connected ecosystems which is shared by different communities and water users.

The combination of climate change, population growth, economic development and the expansion of irrigated areas means it is becoming increasingly more difficult to manage shared rivers without a collaborative and adaptive approach.

When selecting a site for a hydropower project, decision-makers should examine the entire river basin. This involves considering how to maximise energy generation alongside the environmental, social and economic outcomes for all users.

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Successful river basin development involves a holistic approach which encourages cooperation among a diverse group of stakeholders in the utilisation of river resources.

Site selection at the basin-scale ensures the optimal use of natural resources, supporting water supply, energy and agricultural uses. This minimises impacts, protects the environment and improves livelihoods.


Our strategy and action

IHA helps members and partners to understand how to design collaborative, adaptive approaches to river basin development.

Our strategy is to collect and share experiences and knowledge with members, policy-makers and other stakeholders to support hydropower development planning at basin-scale.

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The river basin development work programme shares knowledge with regulators, state-owned entities and developers seeking a licence to operate, to help them identify risks, challenges and solutions to river basin development.

Throughout 2019, we will continue to gather case studies covering both transboundary and national river basin development as a means of sharing knowledge with our members. These case studies will be showcased during the 2019 World Hydropower Congress in Paris, France.


Recent activities

To learn more about our recent activities, read our Activity and Strategy Report for 2018-2019.

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Join the network

Members interested in exchanging experiences and best practices on river basin development can join our River Basin Development Knowledge Network

Hydropower Pro

IHA members can access the knowledge network in Hydropower Pro, our online member community.

In the online group, network members can connect with each other, exchange experiences and access essential resources, briefings and case studies.

For any questions, please contact IHA analyst Cristina Diez Santos at

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