Bali Statement urges sustainable hydropower to spearhead low-carbon economies

Jakarta – The World Hydropower Congress issued the Bali Statement on Powering Sustainable Growth on 2 November 2023, emphasising the crucial role of sustainable hydropower in fostering vibrant, low-carbon economies propelled by clean, renewable energy.

The International Hydropower Association (IHA), serving as the congress’s Secretariat has pledged to champion the recommendations of the Bali Statement through its global advocacy and operational endeavours in partnership with its members and stakeholders.

Recommendations aimed at policymakers and stakeholders stress the urgent need for concerted efforts to ramp up sustainable hydropower development, lest industrial growth in developing regions rely heavily on fossil fuels, leading to an inevitable shortfall in meeting global climate targets. To this end, the Congress proposed four key actions: plan for future energy needs; incentivise sustainable hydropower development through financial and market mechanisms; accelerate the development of renewables through transparent and efficient permitting and licensing processes; and incorporate hydropower sustainability practices into government regulation and financial sector obligations.

Planning for future energy requirements entails fostering cross-border collaboration, particularly in light of the escalating utilisation of variable renewables like wind and solar power, to determine the optimal blend of low-carbon energy technologies conducive to sustainable development.

Facilitating sustainable hydropower growth by implementing financial and market mechanisms, thereby aligning with the objectives outlined in the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This necessitates doubling the investment in hydropower, estimated at USD100 billion annually, alongside revamping existing assets. Equitable market frameworks are pivotal in incentivising and derisking new hydropower investments and upgrades, crucial for attaining climate targets while acknowledging the non-energy benefits of hydropower projects.

Streamlining the permitting and licensing procedures is crucial to expedite the development of renewable energy sources. Delays in the approval processes, often exceeding five years, impede progress, leaving fossil fuels as the default option. Bolstering the efficiency of these processes without compromising sustainability is imperative for accelerating the deployment of renewables, which is instrumental in meeting global climate objectives.

Integrating hydropower sustainability standards into governmental regulations and financial sector obligations is paramount in ensuring responsible development practices. Implementing comprehensive sustainability benchmarks, such as the Hydropower Sustainability Standard, should be an integral aspect of regulatory frameworks, thereby maximising project benefits and mitigating any adverse impacts.

The Bali Statement represents a clarion call for unified action, underlining the indispensable role of sustainable hydropower in propelling the global transition toward a low-carbon future while nurturing economic prosperity and environmental stewardship.

As a non-profit organisation, the International Hydropower Association (IHA) operates within a robust network spanning over 120 countries. (nsh)

Banner photo: Sketch of Kayan Hydropower project (Source: North Kalimantan Energy and Mineral Resources Office)

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