Electricity

New initiative to support sustainable hydropower in the Western Balkans

IHA SECO KESH initiative sustainable hydropower Western Balkans

Photo: Fierza Hydroelectric Power Station operated by KESH

Published

January 13, 2021

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Published:

January 13, 2021

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The International Hydropower Association (IHA), the Albanian Power Corporation (KESH), and the Swiss government’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) have launched a new initiative in the Western Balkans designed to support authorities, investors, and developers to implement international good practices in hydropower development.

Starting in early 2021, the three-year initiative will see IHA Sustainability, the organization’s non-profit subdivision, work with project developers, alongside regulators, investors, and civil society organizations from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, North Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia.

Hydropower projects to comply with the Hydropower Sustainability Tools – internationally recognized guidelines

According to IHA, the aim is to ensure hydropower projects comply with the Hydropower Sustainability Tools, a set of guidelines and assessment tools developed by governments, industry, and social and environmental NGOs. These tools are aligned with the lending criteria used by international institutions such as the World Bank and International Finance Corporation.

The training program will be organized for key decision-makers and NGOs

Reaching key decision-makers as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the training program will strengthen institutional capacity and widen awareness about the good practice requirements expected of all hydropower projects, according to the IHA press release.

Participants will become proficient in using the Hydropower Sustainability Tools

The training program will examine all aspects of project development, including siting and design, community consultation, biodiversity, and environmental risk management. With a combination of face-to-face workshops, e-learning and webinars, in-country and remote support, participants will become proficient in using the Hydropower Sustainability Tools and will participate in an assessment of a hydropower project in Albania.

Hydropower sustainability is very important to address climate change

Alain Kilajian, the Senior Sustainability Specialist at IHA, said that one of the main outcomes of this program will be to ensure local stakeholders from the Western Balkans are better equipped with the necessary tools to understand and assess the sustainability performance of hydropower projects in line with internationally recognized guidelines.

“Our future challenges concern increasing the energy production and ensuring electricity independence, while at the same time, ensuring a positive environmental and social presence in the communities living close to hydropower plants, as well as promoting sustainable social, economic and environmental development. Therefore, we are committed to adopting the best practices and standards of sustainable hydropower,” said Benet Beci, Executive Director of KESH.

IHA Sustainability has successfully delivered multiple capacity-building programs across the world

Patrik Meier, Deputy Head of Mission at the Swiss Embassy in Albania, said that all hydropower plants affect water resources and have an impact on the environment and livelihoods of affected communities.

Hydropower sustainability is more relevant than ever to address climate change and economic development, he added.

IHA Sustainability has successfully delivered multiple capacity-building programs across the world: including with the World Bank in the Zambezi River Basin, with the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation in Nepal and Myanmar, and with SECO in Ghana and Indonesia.

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