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News IHA 2011 Congress Concluding Recommendations

World attention on the International Hydropower Association’s 2011 Congress on Advancing Sustainable Hydropower

The IHA 2011 World Congress concluded on Wednesday 22 June with the successful completion of the post-Congress tour to the Madeira river projects, Santo Antonio and Jirau, in northwest Brazil. 

The 2011 Congress was the largest yet, with around 500 high-level delegates from 71 countries attending. Representing governments, civil society, finance, research and industry, delegates received a welcome message from the President of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, congratulating IHA on building a common understanding on hydropower at the international level, and emphasising the importance of this feeding into the Rio+20 Conference in 2012.

The discussions during the IHA World Congress were intensive and inclusive of many perspectives, from personal experience on the needs of indigenous people, through to the requirements of power-intensive industry. Priorities focussed on the need for strategic approaches and broader engagement in energy and water planning, together with associated climate action. Included below are some general conclusions:

  • Hydropower development offers the potential to both mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and to support adaptation to climate change. By managing water, including its environmental services, clean energy can be incorporated in multipurpose water management infrastructure, and thereby help pay for it. Industry should emphasise the multipurpose aspects of hydro in convincing policymakers that hydro can contribute to their policy goals;
  • Continued collaboration is required to explore synergies between man-made infrastructure and natural systems, such as floodplains and wetlands. Great care must to be taken to avoid blanket approaches to the estimation of water losses and rules for flows through water infrastructure;
  • The launch of the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol, with a multi-stakeholder Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Council formed at the Congress, is a major landmark for more informed decision-making and improved performance in the hydro sector. There was an exceptional level of interest in the Protocol by all groups represented at the Congress, including the world’s media, representing a very promising signal for its future utilization. Further information is available at the following
  • The Protocol’s use in options assessment during the early stage of development is of great interest, and assessment of options within the context of wider river basin planning is important;
  • High sensitivity should be given to communities affected by new development, especially those that utilize differing cultural systems; there is genuine recognition that meaningful engagement and negotiations with such communities needs trust to be established and maintained between all parties. A workable solution to the debate on free, prior and informed consent is required;
  • Hydropower, in the context of regional development, is extremely important in progressing equitable benefit-sharing, trade and good relations between riparian nations. River-basin initiatives, power pools and economic communities are fundamental ingredients for regional development;
  • Establishing and extending transmission networks are as important and complex in their development as hydropower projects; along such transmission corridors, important opportunities for trade and benefit sharing should include communications and transport initiatives where possible;
  • The research community needs to become more connected in relation to hydropower; the paucity of data compromises the ability to dispel dubious statements. Increased effort is needed to analyse the impact of the energy sector on water, for example.
  • The IHA World Congress will be reconvened in 2013; the venue will be Sarawak, Malaysia.

Detailed reporting on the 2011 IHA World Congress can be found on the website of the International Institute for Sustainable Development:  Additional information, including key presentations, can be found at the IHA Congress website:  

A summary video of the Congress, together with links to several interviews with sector figureheads filmed live at the Congress, have also been posted on this website.  We encourage you to view and share these videos. Additional information, presentations and photographs will be added over the coming days and weeks. Follow @iha_org on Twitter to be amongst the first to be told when new material becomes available.

IHA would like to thank all those who participated in the Congress. The Association would particularly like to acknowledge the support of the Brazilian Government, and especially its representative for the Congress, Dr Marcio Zimmermann, Deputy Minister, Mines and Energy.

Contact information n/a
News type Inbrief
File link
Source of information
Keyword(s) water scarcity, water demand management, water supply and demand
Geographical coverage Brazil,
News date 30/06/2011
Working language(s) ENGLISH