Sustainability must be a common goal for public and private sectors alike. IFC’s global experiences have shown that investing in sustainable operations helps companies run smoother, improves revenue, and attracts the right investors. IFC led discussions at the 2016 International River Symposiums to make the case for private sector participation in the hydropower space.
“Our rivers need the private sector on board,” said Kate Lazarus, IFC Hydro Advisory Team Lead based in Yangon. “We are introducing new concepts that will encourage influencers and companies to think basin-wide, work together with local authorities, and better engage their stakeholders. We are aiming for stronger leadership in the hydropower sector—it’s the way forward.”
Lazarus, who was delivering a keynote, called on private and public sectors to work together to improve benefit sharing, break down silos, and build trust among companies and their stakeholders. She said, “These are the basic requirements to reach effective and fair hydropower governance.“
“Hydropower governance encompasses all aspects of hydropower decision-making," said John Dore, Senior Asia Regional Water Resources Specialist with the Australian Government. "This includes the ways in which projects are conceptualized and promoted, approved or rejected, and if built, how they are operated and oversighted.”
Farhat Ali Mir, Additional Secretary, Government of Pakistan said the Jhelum-Poonch River Basin in Pakistan is one example where hydropower governance is at work. One hydropower project’s biodiversity action plan was scaled up to a basin-wide level, getting private and public sectors on board, and engaging stakeholders throughout the process.
“Managing the Jhelum-Poonch River Basin well means looking at all development and evaluating the cumulative impacts of all projects. Public-private partnerships have been key to our success,” he said. Mir was speaking at a special session on hydropower governance at the symposium, hosted by IFC and the Australian Government.
Dr. San Oo from Myanmar’s Environmental Conservation Department, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation based in Nay Pyi Taw, also presented in the same session on Myanmar’s hydropower potential and the need for stronger policy reform. Good hydropower governance involves promoting meaningful relationships between the private sector and stakeholders.
“In Myanmar, we are overcoming legacies of hydropower development that was pursued without stakeholder engagement,” he said. “We are at the very beginning, and therefore learning by doing. With stronger policy and a better understanding of environmental and social risks, we will reform the hydropower sector.”
With support from the Australian government, IFC has worked with the government of Myanmar since September 2015 to build capacity on raising environmental and social standards in the hydropower sector. This year, the government of Myanmar and IFC commenced a country-wide strategic environmental and social assessment that will shed light on sustainability options for hydropower development. The assessment will help the government make decisions through a sustainability lens.