The World Bank Group and the International Hydropower Association (IHA) will assist Myanmar in developing a more sustainable hydropower sector by promoting best practices in technical, environmental and social standards, the DC-based lender said.
The bank said a sustainable hydropower sector will help “mitigate environmental and social risks while realising the country’s huge energy potential,” contributing to economic growth.
“Around the world, different approaches are applied to hydropower development to make sure hydropower is developed sustainably and for the benefit of all stakeholders,” said Cameron Ironside, IHA’s sustainability director.
“What they all have in common is that it is essential to put a good political and technical framework in place to promote regional collaboration and make projects successful.”
Myanmar has enormous hydropower potential of up to 100,000 megawatts (MW) which would be almost 30 times the currently installed capacity of 3,500MW if realised. Currently less than 30 percent of households in Myanmar have access to electricity, and electricity consumption per capita is among the lowest in the world.
“Electricity is fundamental to reducing poverty and improving living standards for Myanmar’s people, and hydropower is an important part of Myanmar’s energy future – but it has to be done in an environmentally and socially sustainable way,” said Karin Finkelston, vice president for Global Partnerships at IFC, WB’s private sector arm.
“Done well, hydropower offers cleaner, affordable, and reliable electricity access to help drive economic growth, poverty reduction, and sustainable development.”
Supported by the Australian government, the WB and IHA hosted a two-day hydropower workshop on January 19-20 in Myanmar’s capital Naypyitaw between about 100 representatives from government, private sector and civil society.
Participants from Myanmar and neighbouring countries discussed hydropower planning, taking regional examples and lessons learned into account on managing river basins with cascades of hydropower, sustainable financing mechanisms and sustainability approaches.
Workshop discussions centred on the opportunities and challenges of Myanmar’s hydropower development. Participants talked about the urgent need for a policy framework that encourages sustainable hydropower development and the adoption of good international environmental and social practices in the industry.
The workshop was a part of the lender’s strategy to engage a range of different stakeholders on key topics relevant to the hydropower sector, which will be taken forward in the bank’s support of sustainable hydropower development in Myanmar. Highlights of the workshop will be presented in other global and regional forums on water and energy, including the World Hydropower Congress 2015 in Beijing, China.