VIDEO: Establishing Baselines to Better Protect the Environment and Local Livelihoods



Environmental and socioeconomic baseline studies are crucial tools for planning, developing and managing hydropower projects. A baseline evaluates the existing status of the environmental and socioeconomic conditions, such as a river’s water flow, fish and mammal species, and income levels in local communities. Such information gives project developers or regulators a base to compare with future data of a project’s impact on a site, allowing them to minimize, mitigate or compensate for any negative effects.  


To spread this message, IFC co-organized a training workshop last December with German developmental organization GIZ and environmental protection group WWF for 45 representatives working in hydropower and water resources management across the Mekong. IFC invited Any Chaves, representative of the Costa Rican Electricity Institute, an IFC client, and Leeanne Alonso, an IFC biodiversity specialist, to participate in the event, held in Bangkok. They shared their experiences in setting baselines for hydropower projects in Costa Rica and gave their recommendations for the Mekong region.


At the workshop, presenters from Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin and North America talked about how they conducted baseline studies in their respective regions. To access the report and presentations from the event, please visit


IFC aims to increase the share of new hydropower projects that follow international environmental and social standards in Lao PDR. The workshop on baseline studies was part of our larger effort to support government agencies, river basin committees, and other local stakeholders in Lao PDR to better anticipate, evaluate, and manage the cumulative impact of hydropower investments in select river basins.