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Sustainable Hydropower in the Mekong Region

Kate Lazarus, IFC senior operations officer, discusses how hydropower companies can better engage their stakeholders for sustainable development of the sector.
In river basins where multiple projects are planned, companies should consider working together to address the cumulative impacts that are likely to result.
“Chinese banks are among the leading lenders in neighboring Southeast Asia and Africa, making them important players in international development finance,” said Morgan Landy, IFC Transaction Risk Solutions Director based in Washington D.C.
“Hydropower demands are growing too fast to limit your scope to one country,” said Kate Lazarus, team leader for IFC’s Mekong sustainable hydropower program. “We’re approaching sustainability from an Asia-wide perspective.”
Sustainable hydropower develpoment can be done better. Experts agree that three areas needing improvement are addressing environmental and social risks upfront, improving sustainable lending, and strengthening regional cooperation.



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IFC offers tailor-made advisory services, technical expertise, and training opportunities to stakeholders in the hydropower industry.

With hundreds of hydropower projects planned throughout the Mekong region, IFC supports environment, water, and energy ministries to improve policies and regulations, with the aim of developing projects that follow good international industry practices to protect the environment and local people’s livelihoods.

To meet growing energy demands, neighboring financial institutions are increasingly investing in the region’s hydropower projects. These institutions can increase overall project and financial performance by putting in place effective environmental and social management systems and mitigating risks upfront, and IFC can help them do that.

An open and transparent dialogue between different stakeholders can help raise environmental and social standards for hydropower projects. That is why IFC seeks to partner with a wide range of stakeholders to ensure all parties are able to better anticipate, evaluate, and manage the cumulative impacts of hydropower development.

IFC has established a platform for hydropower developers to discuss the challenges they are facing and voice concerns to the government. The Hydropower Developers’ Working Group meets quarterly and is open to all companies interested in improving hydropower standards. The working group has a chapter in Lao PDR and is planning to establish one in Myanmar.

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