Hydro power could bring 5 of 17 U.N. Sustainable Goals closer to resolution
Hydroelectric projects could have a positive effect in helping achieve five of the U.N. Sustainable Development goals – this was the main conclusion of the San Jose Declaration on sustainable hydropower signed at the close of the World Hydropower Congress held last month.

    These goals were:

          No. 6) Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

         7) Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

          8) Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, decent work for all.

         9) Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation.

      13) Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

       “Our shared task is to advance sustainable hydropower’s role in a clean energy future,” the declaration says in its preamble.

       The text of the declaration contains principles and recommendations which can be summed up as follows:

  • All types of river- and water-based infrastructure should deliver net positive benefits to project-
    affected communities and the wider environment to merit their construction and continued
  • Dams that no longer provide benefits to society, have safety issues that cannot be cost-effectively mitigated, or have disproportionate environmental
    impacts that cannot be effectively addressed, should be assessed for potential decommissioning.
  • New hydropower projects should not be developed in UNESCO World Heritage Sites (in Russia, this applies to Lake Baikal).
  • Sustainable hydropower alone will not be sufficient to address the world’s water and energy needs. In planning, developing and modernising
    hydropower projects, industry, government and civil society should produce integrated energy systems and seek synergies between renewable
    energy sources, including the use of solar panels on reservoirs.
  • As a renewable energy source, hydropower plays an essential role in decarbonising the energy system, achieving net-zero carbon targets and helping to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

    The preamble of the Declaration contains a reference to the recent report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), “Net Zero by 2050,” that global hydropower capacity needs to at least double by 2050 in order to contain global warming to within 1.5 degrees Celsius.

    By way of comparison: In the period from 2011 to 2020, world-wide installed capacity of hydropower stations rose by 26 %, from 1,057 to 1,332 GW, according to data from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). By 2030, according to IEA forecasts, this indicator will rise by 17 % , with the leading countries being China, India, Turkey and Ethiopia.


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October 2021