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Joint Press Release: Mekong+ Forum Explores New Frontiers in Sustainable Hydropower Development

Oslo, Norway, 7th Sep 2017

7 September 2017, Oslo, Norway – On 4-6 September, stakeholders of hydropower-interest groups gathered in the Norwegian Capital at a forum themed “Mekong+ New Frontiers in Sustainable Hydropower Development”. The forum explored sustainability policies, guidelines, and safeguards as the core of project planning and implementation in a growing number of investment portfolios, or so called ‘New Frontiers’ in hydropower development.

Hydropower developers and specialists, government, research institutes, development partners and other regional and international organizations debated challenges and practical ways forward for sustainable hydropower planning and development. These New Frontiers in hydropower development are reflected in initiatives by the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, the International Hydropower Association and others.

“I am honoured that this Forum was inspired by stakeholder dialogues that first started in the Mekong” said  Mekong River Commission CEO Dr Pham Tuan Phan.“We’re also in Oslo today because of the country’s unique expertise and experience in sustainable hydropower development.”

The Forum embarked from the initiatives in the Mekong basin and sparked interaction and lessons learned with other initiatives around the world.  It was jointly organised by the Mekong River Commission (MRC), Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and Multiconsult and received financial and technical support from Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD), the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Deltares (the Netherlands).

Acknowledging the urgent need for action, the first Oslo forum called on developers, financiers and governments alike to continuously improve and truly operationalise international, regional and national sustainability principles, policies and safeguards into tangible and practical guidelines and initiatives so that the wider development benefits to societies can be fully realised.

Hydropower Sustainability Forum Mekong

“All these sustainability considerations need to become an integral part throughout the project planning and thereafter be systematically implemented during construction and operation” said Multiconsult CEO, Mr Christian Nørgaard Madsen.

Participants agreed that hydropower is an important development opportunity, not only in the Mekong River Basin, but for many countries across the globe. If carefully planned and implemented in an integrated water resources management framework, it can contribute towards the achievement of several of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

The cumulative and transboundary impacts of existing and proposed hydropower schemes on the environment, fisheries, and people’s livelihoods have been brought to the forefront globally by a wide range of stakeholders including River Basin Organizations such as the Mekong River Commission.

Further, participants agreed on the global significance and practical relevance of strategic portfolio planning. There was widespread consensus that multiple stakeholders need to join forces in order to reach the new frontiers in sustainable hydropower development. This also implies an improved understanding of necessary roles and responsibilities, and some paradigm shifts and unconventional partnership approaches. As a step forward in this direction the organizers will shortly release a summary of the forum’s deliberations and recommendations in a so-called “White Paper”.

“This is a unique collaboration arrangement between MRC as a basin organisation, Multiconsult as a consulting company and GIZ as an implementer of German development cooperation” commented  Ms Maria Koenig, GIZ Advisor. “All parties add to the variety of perspectives on sustainable hydropower that are highly relevant to the Mekong and beyond. In that sense, it is exemplary of the new partnership approaches that are needed in order to reach the New Frontiers in sustainable hydropower development.”

For more information, please visit: http://www.mrcmekong.org/news-and-events/events/oslo-forum-2/

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Note to Editors

The MRC is the intergovernmental organization established to promote cooperation on the sustainable management of the Mekong Basin whose members include Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam. The MRC acts as a platform for water diplomacy and regional cooperation in which member countries share the benefits of common water resources despite different national interests, and address transboundary pressures in the basin. It also serves as a knowledge hub that promotes regional cooperation and policy-making based on scientific evidence. The commission looks across all sectors including sustaining fisheries, identifying opportunities for agriculture, maintaining the freedom of navigation, flood management and preserving important ecosystems. Superimposed on these are the future effects of more extreme floods, prolonged drought and sea level rise associated with climate change.

The MRC have conducted many studies, tools, and guidelines that draw on international experiences while also developing technical expertise in the region (see: http://www.mrcmekong.org/about-mrc/completion-of-strategic-cycle-2011-2015/initiative-on-sustainable-hydropower/). Multiconsult as a consulting company and GIZ GmbH representing technical development assistance are among MRC’s many competent partners supporting this process. These tools and guidelines are now ready to be applied by MRC member countries. The MRC is currently updating its Sustainable Hydropower Development Strategy aimed at designing optimal and sustainable hydropower development pathways: enhancing benefits beyond national borders and minimising adverse transboundary impacts while supporting water, food, and energy security.

GIZ GmbH is supporting the MRC, both in the development of hydropower in an environmentally friendly and poverty-aware manner, and in its efforts to protect the population from the adverse impacts of climate change in the Lower Mekong Basin. It is also supporting the ongoing institutional transition of the MRC in its various components such as the structural, financial and staff reforms. The GIZ programme works directly with expert staff and managers in the MRC Secretariat, and involves the National Mekong Committees and the ministries for water, energy and environment in the member countries as much as possible in its work.

Multiconsult is one of the leading firms of consulting engineers and designers in Scandinavia. With more than 2,500 staff, the company provides a range of multidisciplinary consulting and design services worldwide. In renewable energy, Multiconsult has been a trusted partner of governments, utilities and private industry for more than 1000 hydropower and energy-related projects. We take a comprehensive approach to natural resources and create environmentally and socially sustainable energy solutions for the future.

 

 

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