River basin development
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.
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 understand how to design collaborative, adaptive approaches to river basin development.
Our approach is to collect and share experiences and knowledge with members, policy-makers and other stakeholders to support hydropower development planning at basin-scale.
Together with a multi-stakeholder group, we spearheaded the creation of the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol, in which site selection and river basin planning is part of the early stage assessment process.
The Protocol is used by regulators, state-owned entities and developers seeking a licence to operate, and as a risk evaluation tool to identify challenges and solutions to river basin development.
Throughout 2018, we will be developing a compendium of case studies on this topic, covering both transboundary and national river basin development, as a means of sharing knowledge with and among our members.
In May 2017, at the World Hydropower Congress in Ethiopia, we organised a focus session on strategic basin planning, with members and stakeholders presenting their experiences of basin-scale planning.
In September 2017, IHA’s new Board approved the new River Basin Development knowledge programme at its inaugural meeting.
In October 2017, we initiated research on hydropower in river basin development and began the process of gathering case studies for a forthcoming compendium.
In November 2017, 35 senior representatives of hydropower companies in 18 countries participated in a Africa-focused workshop on planning hydropower at basin-scale to reduce vulnerability to hydrological variability. We convened the workshop in partnership with the World Bank, the Nordic Development Fund and the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ).
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Latest associated content
There is growing recognition that site selection is critical for successful hydropower development.Type:Programme itemDate:13 October 2016
With the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement, governments from around the world have sent a clear signal to decision-makers and civil society.Type:Programme itemDate:13 October 2016
Myanmar’s rivers provide a reliable source of water for navigation and irrigation, and support food production and livelihoods.Type:Blog postDate:8 June 2016
The IHA Blue Planet Prize will be awarded in 2017, and is open for participation. The award recognises hydropower projects that demonstrate excellence in sustainable development.Type:Blog postDate:11 March 2016
33 GW of new hydropower capacity was commissioned in 2015, including 2.5 GW of pumped storage, according to estimates in our new briefing, 2016 Key Trends in HydroType:Blog postDate:1 March 2016